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Early in the group's 14-year career, Jon Langford explained that he saw the Waco Brothers as a bar band that would let him bash out loud rock 'n' roll on a regular basis. For many years that's just what the Wacos did, becoming one of Chicago's most dependable (and drunken) live acts. But it's been ages since they've been scene fixtures, since original drummer Steve Goulding moved to New York long ago (Joe Camarillo subs when Goulding can't make a gig) and other members have committed themselves to nonmusical careers--singer and guitarist Dean Schlabowske, for instance, opened the Wicker Park wine shop Cellar Rat a couple years back.
But the Wacos still make a new record every year or two and play raucous live shows a bit more frequently. There's really only one question to ask about their new live album, Waco Express: Live and Kickin' at Schubas Tavern (Bloodshot): What took them so long? Recorded in December 2006, it captures a typical high-octane set, with the band smashing through a sturdy batch of tough rockers twanged up by Mark Durante's overdriven steel guitar. The Wacos have made some fine albums over the years, but they all ultimately pale next to what the group pounds out onstage--if you need a reminder of their, um, well-lubricated performances, this will do the trick. To celebrate the record's release, the band returns to the scene of the crime for a gig on Saturday
Helena Espvall, Nimis & Arx (Fire Museum/Pax)
Michael Thieke Unununium, Where Shall I Fly Not to Be Sad, My Dear? (Charhizma)
Vladislav Delay, Multila (Huume)
Copperpot, WYLA? (EV Productions)
Tom Lucas, Red Letter Day (Radioactive)