Gravy Train!!!! | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Loads of punk bands walk the line between brilliant and stoopid, but Gravy Train!!!! is the only one I can think of that throws itself down and humps it. The skittering sound of this Oakland band-cum-dirty dance troupe is created by two squeaky-voiced, potty-mouthed girls, a gay guy with a voice like Boo Boo bear, a rattletrap drum machine, and a spare but tight mix of garage-sale synth and Rickenbacker guitar. Their first album, 2003's Hello Doctor, was packed with perverse lyrics about food, sex, and food and sex--the protagonist of one song got pregnant with a hamburger because she had her way with a french fry--and despite some 60s girl-group-inspired melodies and backing vocals, it was so synth heavy it could be mistaken for sincere electroclash. Their second full-length, the just-minted Are You Wigglin? (Kill Rock Stars), was impatiently awaited by fans posting messages on their Web site--including an offer of "a warm place to stay after you are done making us all horny at the show . . . where your asses will get spanked nicely" and an invite to the Paris Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. This time Gravy Train!!!! has cleared away some of the 80s kitsch to make space for more 60s elements: plenty of ooh-wah backup vocals, albeit delivered at tantrum volume, more guitar, and a song intro that rips off Alvin and the Chipmunks' "Alvin . . . Alvin . . . ALLLVIIIN!" shtick. It's hardly cerebral, but if you're too smart for lyrics like "It's Easter in your pants and everyone wants a peep," I don't envy your brain. The Plus Ones open. Fri 7/22, 9 PM, Open End Gallery, 2000 W. Fulton, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

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

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