Bobby Conn, Cave | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Bobby Conn, Cave Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Thu., Feb. 10, 9 p.m. 2011

If you're not familiar with the work of homegrown Chicago genius Bobby Conn, you've got some catching up to do—and this show is a good place to start. Back in 1998 Conn released his second full-length, Rise Up!, a terrifying concept album drenched in 70s excess and relentlessly (if not quite sincerely) advancing an agenda indistinguishable from the mania of a Christian apocalypse cult. Many a would-be provocateur in the realms of punk and industrial has explored similar themes, but Conn and his crack band outdo them all by giving their record the seductive pull of the shallowest, most hedonistic pop-cultural product—it's glittery, bombastic, and joyous, a dancing queen with the vacant eyes of a true believer. The album sounds designed to be a full-blown stage spectacle, but it's only been performed in its entirety once, at least in Chicago—and that was at its release party. Like a lot of Conn's older work (particularly his "Continuous Ca$h Flow System" meta-scam of the mid-90s), it now sounds prescient, like an early diagnosis of the spiritual and economic mess we're in this decade. The band from Rise Up! is long gone—Conn and his wife, violinist Julie Pomerleau, are the only members left from that era—but his current crew includes formidable showmen like drummer Josh Johannpeter (Mahjongg, Lazer Crystal), bassist Jim Cooper (Detholz!, Baby Teeth), and keyboardist Job Steinmeier (Detholz!). They'll play two sets at this show: one of the complete Rise Up!, the other of new material that's been in the works for a couple years. Conn plans to record it next month for a September release. -Monica Kendrick

Price: $10