Listening to a Happy Mondays record (their first LP, Bummed, or an extraordinary new single called "Step On") is like having your dance partner knock your hat off, slap your face, rip off your shirt pockets, and shake you violently--you object to it in principle, but in the end you find yourself bopping along disconcertedly. The band is an amusingly amoral bunch of Manchester, England, hoodlums who by means of a dizzy mix of acid house beats and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll excess have found themselves the unlikely kingpins of the Manchester Sound. It's something to hear (and see): a very large band, fronted by Shaun (who sings) and Bez (who dances), all rolling, hypnotic rhythms and cagey guitar riffing. Scarier is the Mondays' sociological significance: they take the edgy nihilism of punk and wrench it over into plain old drugged indifference, and it's this aspect of the band, far more than their cheerful ecstasy inhaling, their loutish sexuality, and their lack of social toilet training generally, that makes you wonder. Happy Mondays dominates the British music press as much as any band of the last ten years: maybe drugged indifference is the wave of the future; perhaps even now a youth legion forms (or doesn't form), with "Who cares?" as its battle cry. Scary? Perhaps. But then, that's England's problem. Monday, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kevin Cummins.