Jon Spencer Blues Explosion | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


On their amazing new album Orange (Matador) the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion have their pomo mojo working. While Spencer ultimately failed at merging noise, a "fuck you" attitude, and riffs swiped from the Stones in his old band, Pussy Galore, his new combo with drummer Russell Simins and second guitarist Judah Bauer has gone on an ecstatic slice-and-dice spree through the undergrowth of America's raunchy prerock musical culture. Inspired by the sounds Sam Philips recorded in the old Memphis Sun Studios, the JSBE evoke the frenzied and reckless attack of proto-rock 'n' roll icons like Jerry Lee Lewis and blues giants like Howlin' Wolf. In the JSBE's wild sound, some of these disparate elements jog elbows while others get slammed to the mat; instantly familiar riffs and progressions get disemboweled, rearranged, and reconstituted. On the new album a string section, funky Clavinet, go-go-girl backing vocals, turntable scratching, and theremin wheezing come together with a gorgeous destruction of logic. On "Full Grown," a hillbilly hiccup on overdrive punctuated by group shouts of "fuck," Spencer spits out phrases like "Aw, shucks," or "Take a whiff of my pant leg, baby!" His excellent singing--a succession of discursive, manically delivered phrases, words, and grunts--reduces rock 'n' roll vocals to their essence: the verbal equivalent of an orgasm. In fact, his whole band's just a concentrated romp in the hay. Friday and Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment