Oblivians, Running, the Sueves | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Oblivians, Running, the Sueves Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Image

When: Thu., May 28, 9 p.m. 2015

During their original 90s run, Memphis-­born trio the Oblivians set such a high bar that nobody else playing trashy garage rock has cleared it to this day—they collided frenzied, primitive garbage-can drumming, guitars so blown-out they sound like a weed eater chewing at a wrought-iron fence, and unhinged vocals that split the difference between an old-school soul shouter and a belt sander. As a band they’re basically an oil-­smoking beater with no hubcaps doing 70 down a narrow alley, but with three strong songwriters, their repertoire has a depth and variety that belie that deliberate shittiness: they’re equally convincing on the white-hot blowtorch of “Strong Come On” and the moody, morbid gospel number “Final Stretch.” The Oblivians have been reuniting occasionally since at least 2006, when they played the HoZac Blackout, and in 2013 they released Desperation (In the Red), their first album in 15 years. The members’ time apart seems to have sharpened the distinctions between their styles: Greg Cartwright, who now leads the Reigning Sound, loves the driving, sentimental melodies of vintage soul, country, and R&B; Jack Yarber, whose recent bands include the Tennessee Tearjerkers and a solo project as Jack Oblivian, favors taut, smart-assed rock inflected with power pop and new wave; and Eric Friedl, best known as the founder of Goner Records, sticks to dirt-simple, bloody-pick-guard punk. (Everybody takes turns singing, drumming, and playing guitar.) The passage of years and trends notwithstanding, the Oblivians retain their golden ear for cover songs: Desperation includes a knock-down, drag-out garage-rock version of “Call the Police,” a 2002 regional hit from Louisiana zydeco and blues singer Stephanie McDee. These guys may be middle-aged motherfuckers now, just like me, but their songs throb with young blood—put on your dancin’ legs for this one, my pretties. —Philip Montoro

Price: $15

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