Blackouts | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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I tried to get a pal to bet me that the guys in the Blackouts started playing together in the mid-to-late 90s--these Champaign-Urbana rockers borrow both from standout garage bands of that era and from punk acts that were by then mainstream (hint: the Sex Pistols). My friend wouldn't bite, though, or I'd be 50 bucks richer: in their mid-20s now, the Blackouts formed in front man Steve Ucherek's parents' basement in downstate Odell in 1997, five long years before the release of Everyday Is a Sunday Evening, their first proper disc and the debut venture of Deerfield upstart Lucid Records. A couple weeks ago Lucid put out the Blackouts' sophomore album, Living in Blue, whose kickoff track sounds remarkably like the New Bomb Turks covering a Supercharger song (a moment of silence for the golden age of Rip Off Records, please). After that shattering opener, though, the tempos slow down and the textures get richer: "No Tomorrow" mixes Old 97's rhythm guitar with a lead tone that suggests the Insomniacs (or the Monkees, if you're feeling perverse), and several songs are sprinkled with Fleshtones-style organ. By the time I got to the last tune, "Open Casket Access," which pitches more Rhett Miller rhythm over a jaunty "Goody Two Shoes" drum shuffle, I was sold on the Blackouts' shtick (and wishing I'd thought of that trick first). Opening for Bang! Bang! and the Audreys (see Spot Check). Friday, April 30, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.

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