Guitar Wolf | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Rock 'n' roll works so hard to be cool, but it has a dirty little secret--it's actually about excessive, embarrassing, dorky passion. It's the musical equivalent of costumed fanboys mobbing Star Trek extras like maenads, ripping them apart in an apotheosis of zitty ecstasy. Since 1987 this Japanese trio has been maniacally devoted to a very specific idea of what it means to be a rock 'n' roll band--black leather, shades, plenty of pomade, and a minimum number of chords played so heart-stoppingly loud they sound like they're tearing apart, the way a dragster that noses up at 300 miles per hour goes tumbling end over end. Guitarist and singer Seiji (often credited as "Guitarwolf" in liner notes--the other guys are "Basswolf" and "Drumwolf") worships Joan Jett, and onstage he feverishly kisses a Blackhearts button on the lapel of his biker jacket. Years ago at an overcrowded Lounge Ax show, he made a concession to the stifling heat and took off the jacket--but only so he could strip off his shirt and then put the jacket back on. Though the band's 2002 album UFO Romantics seemed a little subdued to longtime fans--the amps didn't sound like they were actually in flames--last year's Love Rock (Narnack) was a fuzzy, hairy return to form, in the loosest sense of the word. Narnack also recently reissued the 2000 disc Rock 'n' Roll Etiquette, tacking on a squealing cover of Robert Gordon's "The Way I Walk" as a bonus track. The Tyrades, the Phenoms, and the Camaro Rouge open. Sun 3/6, 8:30 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12, 18+.

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