Fischerspooner | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Fischerspooner

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If folks didn't stand up from time to time to declare the pursuit of fun a valid reason to be creative we'd have never seen things like bendy straws, tandem bikes, stiletto heels, or Fischerspooner. Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner met in Chicago in the early 90s, where Spooner was a core member of experimental theater troupe Doorika and Fischer, who often collaborated with Jim O'Rourke, was in the math-rock band Table. Originally intending to collaborate on a film, the two realized the only good material they had was the sound track, so they scrapped the visuals and started performing the songs (including one called "What Do You Do When Your Granddad's a Bigot?"). Both split for New York around 1998, and their first show there, at a Starbucks, was just the two of them, a few dinky prerecorded beats, and a lot of posturing. Five years later their project's turned into a $2 million enterprise with a single, "Emerge," climbing up the Billboard dance charts and a preposterous stage show that costs a few hundred thou and takes up to 60 people (including a turban specialist) to produce. Dancers, singers, and other human props leap and twitch in costumes so excruciatingly exotic they'd give John Galliano a tummy ache. Spooner, the most oblivious narcissist this side of Cher, prances and lip-synchs into a headset, stopping the show occasionally to whinge about (obviously choreographed) miscues. Celebrating the artifice of pop music, past shows have included video screens displaying backstage mayhem, multiple costume changes, wind, snow, and rain machines, cannons shooting glitter, and an incomprehensible story line. Their music's surprisingly restrained, though, and so perfectly produced it hurts. Blame that on master knob-twiddler Fischer, who's worked as a production assistant on a Philip Glass record and stays behind the scenes at all times. #1 (Capitol) collects all the agitated, ice-washed songs they've released so far, and it's so unbearably tasteful it makes their stage presence even more ridiculous. Without all the magic money provides, though, their shows tend to fall a little flat: last month they gave a stripped-down performance on Last Call With Carson Daly, and though the pyrotechnics were in place, the stage was too small, the studio lights too bright, and the lame audience too weirded out. But perfect execution isn't the point with Fischerspooner--it's that they've made the leap from preposterous vision to actual phenomenon. This show is sold-out. Friday, April 18, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

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

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