Kimya Dawson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Folks who've dismissed Kimya Dawson's steady stream of self-made recordings as lo-fi kindergarten-recess sing-alongs might cluck that she and the infantile anti-quality-control crew at K Records deserve each other. But when an album leads with four songs where someone is either dead or dying, can it fairly be dismissed as twee? Documentation may be hard to come by, but I'll go out on a limb and say that Dawson's Hidden Vagenda has the highest body count of anything the Olympia label has ever released. And on songs like "I Will Never Forget," in which all-together-now choruses, toy piano, and pizzicato strings adorn a harrowing, surreal recollection of childhood indignities, Dawson engineers a clash between playful melody and brutal subject matter that's far from artless. There's plenty of nonmorbid material here too, of course: at various points, a weary producer upbraids "young Lennon" ("They can't all be ballads, Julian"), a gaggle of half-naked loonies parades through New York City while Jesse Jackson and Mike Bloomberg play chess in the park, and Dawson rejects the advances of a Strokes guitarist even after he promises to quit drinking. Her stated goal is "to save the world"; her big protest number starts by thanking Scott Ian for her favorite Anthrax record. And "My Heroes" is not only the first clear-eyed discussion I've heard of the Michael Jackson fiasco, it offers the invaluable credo "Having been fucked is no excuse for being fucked-up." The Pharmacy, Matty Popchart, and Beats by Otter open. Mon 5/30, 7 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8. All ages.

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