Mono Men | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mono Men


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Near the beginning of Hype!, the recent documentary on the Seattle scene, Mono Men guitarist John Mortenson appears onstage wearing a crown of beer cans over his balding pate and omnipresent shades. Given the power of video, this may turn out to be the enduring image of the Bellingham garage rockers--and it's a fitting one. For a decade the Mono Men have been kingpins of the drinking-class empire that includes guitarist Dave Crider's internationally known Estrus label and the annual Garage Shock festival, not to mention its younger Chicago incarnation, Bottle Shock. On Stop Draggin' Me Down, Wrecker!, Bent Pages, Sin & Tonic, and Live at Tom's Strip n' Bowl, the Mono Men paid ironic but affectionate tribute to hot-rod hedonism and dragged garage rock into the digital age with high-fidelity monsters like "Slammer," "Swampland," and "Watch Outside." But after this weekend the Mono Men are calling it a night. In January a fire leveled the Estrus warehouse, destroying (among lots of other things) the band's master tapes, original art, equipment, and ten years' worth of mementos; later in the year Mortenson departed to concentrate on his young family and software business, leaving the Mono Men a trio. Have a Nice Day, Motherfucker finds the band in a decidedly sour mood: finished before Mortenson split, it was rerecorded later with disastrous results, and finally Crider redid the vocals for the tunes Mortenson had sung in the original sessions. But live, the Mono Men have never disappointed. Experience them in person before they follow their garage forebears into the past. The Crown Royals and the Quadrajets open the first night, the Insomniacs and Impala the second. Friday and Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. J.R. JONES

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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