Hellacopters | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice



Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe



The Hellacopters' performance at the Empty Bottle in December was the sort of experience that sends music writers scurrying for their most hyperbolic cliches. I'll try to be more judicious: they didn't kick my ass, fry my brain, or blow the roof off the building. But no one who witnessed the fury of these Swedish garage rockers left making any jaded remarks about the death of rock 'n' roll (or talking up Nashville Pussy, for that matter). Like other garage outfits before them, the Hellacopters embrace the Detroit proto-punk of the Stooges and the MC5, but what most distinguishes them from their 60s-obsessed brethren is the unmistakable shading of late-70s cock rock--principally AC/DC. Most of the songs on the new Grande Rock (Sub Pop) evoke the Australian metal band's hell mongering, stoopid sexuality, and hypercharged blues riffs; onstage the Hellacopters forgo the studied cool of most 90s garage for the dumb swagger of a filling-station badass. And for aural flourishes, they cherry-pick through the decades: "Venus in Force" begins with an eerie backward-guitar weave a la Husker Du's "Don't Know Yet," "Alright Already Now" erupts into a Cream-like wah-wah guitar solo, "Welcome to Hell" cops the falsetto hoo-hoos from "Sympathy for the Devil," and the driving eighth-note piano on "Action de Grace" reaches back past the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" all the way to rock's original hell-bent pretty boy, Jerry Lee Lewis. Supershitty to the Max, the Hellacopters' 1996 debut, comes closer to the furnace blast of their live show--which is still not very close. But after seeing innumerable young bands that can't do justice to their records onstage, I'm thrilled to find one whose force can't be bottled. The Supersuckers headline; the New Bomb Turks and Zen Guerrilla open. Thursday, September 9, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. J.R. JONES

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

Add a comment