Chris Knox | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


One of the founding fathers of New Zealand's fertile punk rock scene, Chris Knox has quietly built up a substantial body of work that clearly establishes his highly unusual but thoroughly persuasive pop smarts. After graduating from the Enemy and Toy Love in the late 70s and forming the legendary Tall Dwarfs with Alec Bathgate, Knox developed a distinctive style that nonchalantly presaged America's lo-fi movement; his recordings tend to be thrifty affairs, guided solely by creative invention. The last Tall Dwarfs albums, for example, eschew not only drums but drum machines, opting instead to sample everyday sounds and inventively loop them into rhythm tracks. Whereas TD's music bristles with delightful oddness, Knox's solo work relies on unabashed hook-laden pop melodies and idiosyncratic, somewhat strident, but extremely personal lyrics. His latest opus, the 21-song collection Songs of You & Me (Caroline), offers little musical change from his previous solo efforts, but you won't confuse it with anything else out there. Knox's live performances are equally distinctive. Armed with an electric guitar, a microphone headset, and occasionally abetted by a cheap portable keyboard called an Omnichord, Knox darts around the stage--part comedian, part cheerleader, part rocker, part crooner, all thoroughly entertaining and compelling. Two prime shakers of California's Inland Empire bedroom-rock scene open: Mountain Goats and John Davis, who serves in the Folk Implosion with Sebadoh's Lou Barlow. Thursday, July 6, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620. Free in-store performance next Friday, July 7, 1 PM, Ajax Records, 2156 W. Chicago; 772-4783.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →