Dadadah | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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DADADAH

Composer and vocalist Kitty Brazelton has chosen a cute but misleading name for the impressive genre-crunching "rockestra" she formed in 1990: unlike the dadaist art of the teens and twenties, Dadadah is neither nihilistic nor incomprehensible. In fact, Brazelton's synthesis of fine rock songwriting, personalized folk imagery, psychedelic guitar, soul-band horns, free-improv sensibilities, and classical instrumentation (the nine-piece ensemble features French horn, cello, and harp) proves her a master builder--vigorously postmodern, but never merely eclectic. She's ranged from highbrow to down and dirty, performing at both the Whitney Museum and CBGB; she's written music for Terence Trent D'Arby, Joan Jett, and Madonna, but despite her songs' surface variety, they share an unusually strong structural base. At one point Brazelton studied composition by day and gigged in rock clubs by night: "Resolving the conflicts of modernism versus early music versus free jazz versus acid rock versus folk was really my motivation for further study," she told one interviewer. On the recent Love Not Love Lust Not Lust (Buzz) her vocals range from banshee flutters to Grace Slick flash to Annie Lenox's peculiar mix of power and cool. She spins a beguiling web of lean melodies, spacious harmonies, and sometimes silky lyrics: in "Sex Wind Dream" she writes "There is no island continent safe from the weather of my soul," and in "Beauty Wild and Curious" she observes that "Cocaine is wasabi but wine is the thought of love." This is the first road performance for Dadadah's full stage show, which debuted at the Public Theater in New York earlier this month; it frames the music with lighting effects, movement, and spoken-word interludes. Sunday, 8 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707. Neil Tesser

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Judy Schiller.

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