King Kong | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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While so much contemporary pop is burdoned with meaninglessness, the Louisville-based quintet King Kong harks back to rock's roots as inconsequential, diversionary fun. On Funny Farm, the band's recent release on Chicago indie label Drag City, King Kong creates droll, way funky/garage rock with cartoonish melodies and cheesy organ trills, music that alternately recalls the B-52's (when leader Ethan Buckler is talk-singing in his bass monotone) and Blondie (when backup singer Amy Parton is cooing). Buckler's take on life is willfully dumb, eschewing conventional adult seriousness and preoccupations. His blunt literalism turns "Funny Farm" into a place where "Fish are jumpin'/ Pigs are humpin'/ Ain't it somethin'," and he relishes being stranded on "Island Paradise" until his girlfriend comes along in a Coast Guard clipper to rescue him. Of course he also has to contend with shark attacks ("Scooba-Dooba Diver") and, on the so stupid it's brilliant "Uh Oh," heat stroke after a Death Valley car breakdown ("What a day to be crawling in Nevada/ May I ask to have a glass of icy lemon-ah-duh"). This aggressively juvenile music may not be for everyone, but its playfullness wins me over, delighting the preschooler in me with funny sounds, simple melodies, bright images, and dumb rhymes. These traits would probably make King Kong a smash with the Barney crowd, and Lounge Ax may be missing a bet by scheduling the band for Saturday PM rather then AM. So get wired on Cocoa Puffs, bring your inner child, and be prepared to act silly. The Coctails headline. 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

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