Fatboy Slim/Q-Burns Abstract Message/Gearwhore | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Fatboy Slim/Q-Burns Abstract Message/Gearwhore

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FATBOY SLIM/Q-BURNS ABSTRACT MESSAGE/GEARWHORE

In the last year it's become pretty clear that electronica isn't going to save pop music--and that pop music isn't going to give electronica the weight it was asking for in return. Though a handful of electronica artists on the fringes of pop, Autechre and Squarepusher among them, have created work that resonates past the morning after, most of the genre still has an extremely short half-life. Many of the crossover acts, including big-beat megastar Fatboy Slim (aka Norman Cook), have already backed themselves into stylistic corners. Slim's ubiquitous summer single, "The Rockafeller Skank," was admittedly infectious, but his second album, You've Come a Long Way, Baby (Astralwerks), makes painfully obvious just how disposable his music really is. His pummeling beats, squelchy synth lines, sampled guitar riffs, and inane verbal loops (we've moved from "Right about now / The funk soul brother" to "Fatboy Slim is fucking in heaven") are cleverly and even manipulatively arranged, but they get old faster than a sugar rush. When electronica's proponents were raving about its potential for demolishing traditional song structures, I don't think they were talking about this. Slim shares this DJ bill with labelmates Q-Burns Abstract Message (aka Michael Donaldson) and Gearwhore (aka former Chicagoan Brian Natonski). Donaldson's early singles, collected on Oeuvre earlier this year, were a moderately pleasing melange of jacked-up house beats, but on the recent Feng Shui, he's hired singers and tried on some semitraditional structures that make him sound a little like OMD on X. Natonski toiled at industrial disco here in the early 90s, working at Chicago Trax studios and playing in the awful Chelsea Flower Show; he now lives in LA, but he's yet to shake off the Wax Trax monkey. On Drive his stuff leans more on house tropes than hard-rock ones, but it's still the same dumbed-down crap. Friday, midnight, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-527-2583 or 312-923-2000. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Fatboy Slim photo by Michael Lavine.

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