Lydia Lunch pairs weapons-grade spoken word with manic no wave in Verbal Burlesque | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Lydia Lunch pairs weapons-grade spoken word with manic no wave in Verbal Burlesque


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Two years ago, legendary avant-garde artist Lydia Lunch brought her all-star no-wave revival band Retrovirus to Chop Shop. The group laid down a charismatic, devastatingly tight set that wove together works from all phases of the singer’s storied career and even included crowd-pleasing Pere Ubu and Suicide covers. Her latest project is a very different type of act, despite containing two Retrovirus members: bassist, keyboardist, and sound artist Tim Dahl and drummer Weasel Walter (guitarist in Retrovirus), a former Chicagoan who leads the notorious (and recently reactivated) Flying Luttenbachers. Their collaboration, Verbal Burlesque, is a noisy trio that combines spoken word and improvisation. Lunch has been releasing music ever since emerging from New York’s 70s no-wave and noise scene, and she has equally deep roots as a poet, writer, and darkly hilarious ranter. Walter tells me that he has no idea what Lunch’s screed topics du jour will be, but their 2016 collaboration, the long-form composition Brutal Measures, probably provides a decent idea of their sonic attack at tonight’s show: clattering drums and roaring, hissing electronics create a jagged but supportive nest for Lunch's chanting, hectoring, harrowing, and sometimes evilly playful performance. It’s a rare artist who can stand in the center of a such a storm without ceasing for a moment to be the center of attention. Lunch, Walter, and Dahl have worked together long enough to have a second-nature understanding of each other’s madness and methods, and their interplay in this format should be electric.   v

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