Meat Puppets | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The members of this Arizona trio are genuine postpunk hippies, a contradiction in terms that would seem impossible to sustain. What has kept them doing it for so long, however, is a search. Fundamentally, it's a typical hippie search for "inner meaning" in private, ordinary life, and it's evinced in their songs' druggy meditations on personal relationships and personal surroundings (Mexican restaurants, swimming holes, the surreal Arizona landscape). But at the same time, the Meat Puppets' search has also taken the typically postpunk form of a journey through the debris of pop history toward a style they can call their own. Over the past seven years they've picked through hard-core, country, bucolic psychedelia, even guitar-heavy, pseudoarena rock, and sadly their efforts have gone from being movingly inchoate to merely irrelevant. But their latest album Huevos (SST) brings it all back home. Though there isn't one song on it as inspired as early stuff like "Were Here," "Lost," or "Up on the Sun," the band has settled into a groove that it's only circled around before, and the effects are rejuvenating. Never has the guitar of lead singer/songwriter Curt Kirkwood rolled with such easy purpose; never has the bass of brother Cris fit in so assuredly with drummer Derrick Bostrom's fast and simple swing. In their chugging, off-key tunefulness they're a lot like those ever-searching, prepunk hippie monoliths the Grateful Dead, but I swear, there are moments on Huevos when they're also a dead ringer for early ZZ Top. Postpunks, like hippies, just don't give up. Tonight, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

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

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