Peanut Butter Wolf | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Peanut Butter Wolf

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For me, listening to a Peanut Butter Wolf mix is like eating at an Indian buffet: everything's delicious, but half the time I have no idea what it is. (Doubly embarrassing, since I'm not just a music writer but part Indian too.) In fairness, Wolf doesn't exactly make it easy to follow along--his recent holiday mix (released by Stones Throw, the label he runs himself) skips between festive tunes from familiar faces like the Beach Boys, Bob Marley, and Marvin Gaye and yuletide oddities like Rudy Ray Moore's potty-mouthed riff on "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," the 69 Boys' jingle-bell booty-music "What You Want for Christmas," and Caetano Veloso's ethereal ditty "In the Hot Sun of a Christmas Day." Wolf's a crate digger the way W.C. Fields was a social drinker, and he's got a taste for the esoteric, the bizarre, and the just plain silly--the weirder the LP, the better the high. (His '99 album My Vinyl Weighs a Ton includes a fake voice mail from Mr. Dibbs: "Hey Peanut Butter, it's Dibbs. . . . I found that Norwegian pig-monkey-bloodlust break you were looking for.") But though Wolf likes to clown around, especially on his mixes, as a producer he's a no-nonsense ass kicker, whipping up bare-bones underground bangers (Planet Asia's "Definition of Ill") and dense, adrenalized neck-snapping jams (Rasco's "Hold Up"). On the forthcoming collection Peanut Butter Wolf: 1987-2005 he plays both sides, swerving wildly from dumb high jinks (an endearingly inept garage-band cover of the Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night") to thumping underground anthems (the El-P collaboration "End to End Burner"). You might not recognize everything on his turntables at this show, but it'll all be tasty. Akrobatik, DJ D-Styles, Pugslee Atomz, and Dynamic Vibrations open. DJs Intel, Maker, and Skor spin between sets. Sat 1/14, 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $15, 18+.

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