Frogs, Mommy and Daddy | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Frogs, Mommy and Daddy

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Something weird must happen after you've written and recorded a few thousand songs with somebody. Milwaukee brothers Dennis and Jimmy Flemion, better known as the FROGS, have been playing together since grade school, and their breakout album, 1989's It's Only Right and Natural, was a bizarre collection of semi-improvised "gay supremacist" psych-folk-pop culled from the hundreds of tapes they'd made at home over the years. The really weird part, if you ask me, is that they used their own batty lo-fi recordings by choice, not because they didn't know their way around a mixing board--the studio-crafted songs on their self-titled 1988 debut were witty, meticulously arranged, and unimpeachably catchy, and I'm sure that in the Flemions' warped minds that record was intended as a bid for mainstream success, despite titles like "F'd Over Jesus" and mental lyrics like "She came from earth / And I came from the gods" (from "She Was a Mortal"). They seem to have convinced themselves that the world has done them a great injustice by failing to reward their genius: their 1997 Starjob EP, produced by Billy Corgan and released on D'arcy Wretzky and James Iha's Scratchie label, contained a track called "I Only Play 4 Money," and the Flemions say they mean what it says. (I've booked the Frogs before, and I'm not inclined to disagree.) Like many brothers--and many bands--they've developed an argot they use only with each other, and it spills over into the music the rest of us get to hear. In a '97 interview with the Onion, Dennis Flemion took a break from his usual outrageous self-aggrandizement to say something candid: "We play songs as if it's us speaking amongst ourselves privately; this is how people speak to one another. . . . Somehow, when our songs come out, there's no gray area in the way people interpret them. And in reality, it's pretty gray." In other words, their shocking, sarcastic, surreal lyrics are actually quite sincere. --J. Niimi

MOMMY AND DADDY, a married couple from New York who trade off on electric bass, sampler beats, and vocals, sound like the type of people who loiter in front of the 7-Eleven, rocking out with a boom box, swinging a wallet on a chain, and spitting whenever a Trixie walks past. The pointy-bitch-shoes glam-dance jams on their latest, Duel at Dawn (Kanine), are part Siouxsie, part B-52's, and part race-car video game, and they get straight to the point: if you ain't gonna dance, get off the sidewalk. --Liz Armstrong

The Frogs headline and Mommy and Daddy open. Sat 12/17, 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $10, 18+.

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