Pere Ubu | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Confronted with Pere Ubu, rock-encyclopedia-style career narrative proves insufficient--as do the nerves of most mortals. Oh, it may be possible to face David Thomas alone, at least when he's doing something relatively mundane--say, singing "Drunken Sailor" with all the authentic grotesquerie of a Melville hallucination on the latest Hal Willner theme anthology, Rogue's Gallery. But with the entire Ubu apparatus behind him, he's as ominous and paranoia-inspiring as the Red menace circa 1952. The band's new album--the 15th in its epic, shape-shifting journey--is Why I Hate Women (Smog Veil), allegedly conceived as "the Jim Thompson novel that Jim Thompson never wrote." Me, I can't imagine Thompson producing anything like this--maybe if, as a young man, he'd been assaulted in an alley by H.P. Lovecraft and Jack Kerouac on a laudanum bender, then set off to look for romance at a blurred-together sequence of midwestern bus stations. Carried on a burbling tide of bone-dry guitars and drums, a sad yowl like "But the rails have turned to rust and I see you laughing at the sea / E pluribus unum, honey, the dust will set us free" acquires the impact of your tomb slamming shut. A remix album, Why I Remix Women, is available only at shows and via mail order. Mahjongg opens. a 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $15.

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