The problem with revisionist pop music is that once bands become self-conscious about their sources of inspiration, most get mired in wide-eyed nostalgia (history on a pedestal) or cross-eyed cynicism (history as bunk). Two poised, clever, tuneful exceptions from the New York/Hoboken scene are arriving for separate club dates. Although the dBs may never recapture their early heyday with Chris Stamey, they remain pop cult demigods that deserve a larger audience. Straddling the book-smart and street-smart banks of the Hudson, leader Peter Holsapple shines with a good number about changing with the times and a great one about a femme fatale who took everything but his amplifier. The Ben Vaughn Combo's namesake is among the funniest hipsters since Nervous Norvus, but instead of puffing pompadours and tossing trash, the band plays it cool and suave. Modestly catchy guitar and accordion riffs accent simple songs in which Vaughn brags about his m-m-motor vehicle, gets assassinated for having the wrong haircut, and finds a woman who makes him feel "like Jerry Lewis in France." Saturday, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 549-0203 (dBs); Thursday, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison, 327-1662 (Ben Vaughn Combo).
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Robert Matheu, Adrienne Bennet.