When Mission of Burma played their first reunion show in Chicago, in November 2002, I had to be cajoled into going. I'm always skeptical of reunions--especially when the band in question meant something to me in the first place. The group, active between 1979 and 1983, mixed aggressive, angular guitar rock with avant-garde tapefoolery, paving the way for other bands that would embrace "punk" not as a sound but as license to ignore convention. Earlier this year they released their first new album since, ONoffON (Matador), and it's just as ferocious and exciting as the old stuff. Bassist Clint Conley's songs are defined by otherworldly melodies and well-crafted vocal harmonies, drummer Peter Prescott adds some shout-along stompers, and guitarist Roger Miller, who does the lion's share of the writing, contributes songs at once memorably tuneful and structurally convoluted. The album also includes a stirring version of "Dirt," a Conley gem from the band's early days that finally gets the full studio treatment. Chicagoan Bob Weston (Shellac's bassist and a member of Prescott's post-Burma band the Volcano Suns) has replaced original fourth member Martin Swope; from the sound booth he manipulates the trio's blistering output using loops and effects. Eleventh Dream Day and recent Thrill Jockey signees Pit Er Pat open. Saturday 23, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $23.50, 18+.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Josh Dalsimer.