ELECTRONIC PUPPENHORTEN FESTIVAL
Usually it's terribly annoying to watch attention-starved musicians go apeshit arty onstage--in their desperate attempts to alienate the audience, they end up boring us instead. In the era of extreme fajitas, it takes more than zombie makeup or plastic boobs to make us scratch our heads. But all the bands on this bill register as truly and entertainingly bizarre. The members of Bassface (who also comprise the junk-electronics act Wolf Eyes) have rewired three of those singing fish sold in the seasonal section of Walgreens so that when they're triggered, instead of spewing "Don't Worry Be Happy," they gurgle, rumble, and flop around as if they were dying. One member of Rubber O Cement, reputed to have also been a founding member of Caroliner, flings his bass around the outside of a furry dragonlike suit with oversize human feet and a foam cube head, while the other, a large cardboard "computer" with motherboard wings and spinning cardboard reels, emits cantankerous noises and shudders with rage. Perhaps the freakiest show on the bill, however, is Maximum Cloud. His setup is disturbing enough--a jumble of detritus that includes keyboards, an old Simon game, a credit-card swiper, and a cardboard saxophone that somehow appears to play--but then he opens his mouth. In one relatively lucid but creepy song, he's a doctor treating himself for depression and schizophrenia; in others he rambles crazily about one-eyed jacks, pelican beards, and calendar girls. When he sing-says, "These streets are rough / Get off my back," over a broken disco beat, your first instinct is to laugh--but if you happen to know that about a year ago he broke into a frat house, kicked down doors, drank a bunch of beer, passed out on various beds, and then, even though he was never actually caught, turned himself in just to get treatment for alcoholism, every discordant sound and slurred poppy beat starts to sound simultaneously frightening and heartbreaking. Friday, May 25, 9 PM, Nervous Center, 4612 N. Lincoln; 773-728-5010.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lindsay Karty.