Dirtbombs | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Dirtbombs

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Mick Collins has been trying for ten years to get people to stop calling the Dirtbombs a garage band. Their recent singles compilation, If You Don't Already Have a Look (In the Red), includes covers of the Bee Gees' "I Started a Joke," Soft Cell's "Insecure Me," and Yoko Ono's "Kiss Kiss Kiss." ("Fuck you and your white belt," Collins adds in the liner notes.) But methinks he doth protest too much. The Dirtbombs make hilarious, tossed-off, anything-goes rock 'n' roll whose highest purpose is always to entertain the folks holding the instruments--and if that's not what a garage band does, I must've read the wrong manual. They rearrange Stevie Wonder's "Maybe Your Baby" as a pub-punk football chant, with a "hey hey hey!" at the end of every bar. They tart up the Rolling Stones' "No Expectations" like "Sympathy for the Devil"--same congas and maracas, same bass feel, even the same "woo-hoo" backups--and then drop in the chorus from "Hey Jude" on the outro. The originals are just as over-the-top, and in just as many directions--from a comically garbagey stomper like "Don't Bogue My High," recorded mostly with a single dictation mike, to a patent-leather waterbed funk number like "Little Miss Chocolate Syrup," with its ten-ton-marshmallow bass tone and icy falsetto vocals. The Dirtbombs' live sound is half stampede and half dance party: a bassist, a "fuzz" player, and twin trap drummers back Collins's dead-on soul shout and hit-or-miss guitar. He can't keep his instrument in tune for more than 45 seconds, and the slips and stumbles between the overlapping drum parts make the band sound like a gregarious drunk with two left feet--but if that's still bothering you after the first song, it's time for a blood transfusion. This show is part of the Electric City Rockfest, a three-day series curated by the Double Door; opening are the Phenoms, M.O.T.O., Popsick (see Thursday), the Decibators, Big Whiskey, and DJ Billiams. Fri 9/2, 8:30 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $12.

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