Like those dingy storefronts that get torn down to make room for condos, Busker Soundcheck have been around so long they've become almost invisible--but when they go, a little piece of Chicago will go with them. After 11 years and more than 750 shows, guitarist Paul Kamp, bassist Chris Klein, and drummer Dan Sopher have decided to call it quits. Kamp has posted a chronicle of the power-pop trio's history at www.buskersoundcheck.com; if that document is accurate, the Buskers must have spent the past decade papering one wall of their practice space with reviews numbering them among the best unsigned bands in the nation and another with rejection letters from record labels. Welcome to Buskerland (1999), their self-released second album, amply demonstrates the band's modest charms and tossed salad of classic-rock influences: "Come on Around," its guitar arpeggios draped with angelic three-part harmony, trumpets a giant Cheap Trick chorus and then makes a sharp left into doo-wop time, while the title song opens with a jazzy drum workout and closes with a hammering Black Sabbath coda. On their last out-of-town jaunt, the band discussed plans for recording a new disc starting this month, but late last year Klein announced to the others that he'd "had enough," and they realized that after all this time he'd be irreplaceable. This weekend the Buskers will take their final bow on the same stage recently occupied by the departing Smashing Pumpkins, whose career was roughly contemporaneous with theirs. I can't argue that Busker Soundcheck are in the same league as the Pumpkins artistically, but I suspect that in the greater Chicago metropolitan area they'll be just as sorely missed--and if you can't see why, you're probably living in one of those condos. Friday, January 19, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Drew Photography.