Comets on Fire | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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For a while there it looked like Comets on Fire was at risk of becoming an undernourished side project: two years back cofounder Ethan Miller started another group, Howlin Rain, earlier this year drummer Utrillo Kushner released the first disc by his own group, Colossal Yes, and guitarist Ben Chasny has become something of a star playing solo as Six Organs of Admittance. But the quintet's new full-length, Avatar (Sub Pop), explodes any such concerns, though it's a low-key album by the anarchic space-rock standard they set on 2004's Blue Cathedral. They're not turned up to 11 all the time, but between the delicate piano and the hushed hippie-blues-rock chanting they prove that, heavy as they are, they can also walk on cosmic eggshells. Imagine a more workmanlike Sir Lord Baltimore meeting an angst-free Soundgarden. Lichens and the Lovely Public open. Sun 9/3, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

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