Neptune | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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For nearly 12 years this Boston trio has been making ferocious industrial-soundscape rock with instruments welded out of scrap metal. Neptune started life as the project of sculptor and guitarist Jason Sanford, and he's still responsible for much of the homemade gear, including an amplified thumb piano, a metal floor tom with a built-in mike, and of course the group's rusty oversize baritone guitars, one of which he's topped with a wicked-looking headstock like a cartoon poleax. But in recent years bassist Mark Pearson has pitched in with electronic contraptions like a "telegraph noise box" and an array of small metal synth modules that he and drummer Dan Boucher attack with sticks and pipes to trigger random strings of tones. The band has released a steady stream of cassettes, CDs, and hand-decorated vinyl, often on tiny labels--the latest disc, Patterns, came out on Self Release Records earlier this month--but there's no substitute for the live show. Neptune's deafeningly loud, largely instrumental assault occasionally brings to mind Einsturzende Neubauten--especially the kind of dark, shuddering sounds where you're sure the instruments must be the size of dump trucks--or kicks into high gear to approximate the relentless, hyperactive trashbot pummeling of Lightning Bolt. But Pearson's capricious synths, along with the windows of structured improv the band installs in the songs, balance the rigor of the music with playfulness and disorder. Boucher is especially exciting in person--he beats the living daylights out of a drum kit that includes a broken-down glockenspiel, a steel barrel, a tire rim, and whatever else he can find that'll stand up to the punishment. It's worth snagging a front-row spot for, as long as you remember to wear safety goggles. The Coughs headline and Neptune plays third; Nonagon and Loto Ball Show open. On Saturday Neptune headlines at South Union Arts; see separate Treatment item for details. Fri 4/21, 9 PM, Reversible Eye Gallery, 1103 N. California, 773-862-1232, donation requested. All ages.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bill T. Miller.

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