When: Sun., Feb. 28, 8:30 p.m. 2016
Though many bands struggle to keep it together even when all their members live in the same city, Ashtray Boy have persevered for more than two decades while occupying two continents. Front man Randall Lee and bassist-percussionist Carla Bruce-Lee live in Melbourne, Australia, but the group’s long called Chicago home too—they both lived in town off and on for years—though Ashtray Boy’s membership behind the husband-and-wife team often changes (occasionally with the former Lee even hitting the road without Carla). Tonight is their first show in Chicago since the release of their tenth album, September’s Painted With the Mouth (Minty Fresh). Lee’s resounding vocals can enliven the driest indie-rock melody, and he often acts as a prism to the mood of a song—on the sauntering “IL Sorpasso” he sings, “I need some smokes and the use of your bones.” Ashtray Boy speckle colorful flourishes throughout the 17 tracks, and I’m particularly fond of “Oh Gilberto,” which sounds like a meditative Durutti Column number left to bake in the sun. They perform as a “power trio” tonight, Lee backed by bassist Mark Yoshizumi and drummer (and onetime Reader contributor) J. Niimi.