Fruit Bats, Disappears | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

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When: Sat., March 28, 10:30 p.m. 2009

There’s got to be a handy phrase for an act like this: a “band” that’s actually a revolving cast anchored by one constant charismatic character. Eric Johnson of the Fruit Bats, who’s been the fifth member of the Shins for two years or so and also plays part-time in Vetiver, recently moved to LA from Portland, Oregon, but his Chicago roots remain strong—this December, when it was time to put together a new Fruit Bats lineup and rehearse with the band for the first time in three years, he did it here. Drummer Graeme Gibson, keyboardist Ron Lewis, bassist Chris Sherman, and guitarist Sam Wagster now round out the group, and judging by a couple new songs on YouTube, Wagster’s presence kicks up its usual hazy, slightly scattered back-porch vibe into a folk-rock wail that’s more than a little reminiscent of Blitzen Trapper. (“My amp will now be turned up to seven instead of the usual four or five,” Johnson writes in his blog.) The Fruit Bats have been in Chicago working on their first album since the fantastic Spelled in Bones, which came out in 2005; Johnson tells me it’s about halfway done, and at this show the new lineup will stretch its wings and try out some more fresh material. Gibson also drums in the opening band, Disappears. —Monica Kendrick

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