Poi Dog Pondering | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Poi Dog Pondering

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Poi Dog Pondering's first, eponymous LP (actually a major-label rerelease of a pair of indie EPs) has its light moments, but it grows on you enormously. The band is a shambling eight-person ensemble from Hawaii and recently Austin; the record is a lazily engaging romp. Songwriter-singer-tin-whistle-player Frank Orrall is at his best, I think, limning a scene like that in "Living With the Dreaming Body"; elsewhere he can get too writerly. But he's got pockets full of melodies and a friendly, distinctive voice, and when he goes on a roll with the words "Lure linger / Lure linger" you'll probably like it and cut him some slack. Live they're a blast, and the band works great together. Ted Cho's guitar, Susan Velz's violin, and Dave Crawford's various horns all stand out. Poi Dog can also get loose: last time through town, Orrall took over on drums and treated the crowd to a medley of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and Neil Sedaka's "Love Will Keep Us Together." The Friday-night show, a benefit for the Museum of Contemporary Art, is a pricey $35, but it offers a chance to see the band in airy Traffic Jam; the Saturday show at Lounge Ax could be unbearably overcrowded. Tonight, Traffic Jam, 401 W. Ontario; 951-0699 or 440-1450. Saturday, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

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