Rainer Maria | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Caithlin De Marrais didn't become one of the few women tolerated in the boy's boy's boy's world of emo by making demands--or, for that matter, by making sense. Her lyrics disjointed and her voice disembodied, De Marrais wafted through the first few Rainer Maria records on the majestic swell whipped up by guitarist Kyle Fischer and drummer Bill Kuehn, her thumped bass a rudder to keep her just within sight of land. In contrast, 2003's Long Knives Drawn (Polyvinyl) was the sound of a young woman shaking herself out of a reverie, and of a sharp guitarist forced to articulate his hooks and experiments. Punchy, taut, and above all lucid, it was taken, predictably, as an affront to emo values; on the opener, "Mystery and Misery," De Marrais recognizes the "wicked" appeal of the genre's touchstones only to bid them an apparent farewell. But she doesn't get much more threatening than that: the female subject of an emo tune would be lucky to hear nothing worse than "Let's get over each other / So that we can fall in love again," and De Marrais's lyrics carefully reiterate the time-honored emo truth that breaking up is hard to do (really, really hard!) and requires an intense amount of discussion. Here's hoping another insight--that sometimes things don't work out--is waiting right around the next chord change. Seriously, I suspect the most controversial move Rainer Maria could now make, short of renaming themselves Adrienne Rich, would be to cover Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree." All together now: "There ain't no good guy / There ain't no bad guy..." Engine Down and Call Me Lightning open. $12 in advance, $14 day of show; 18+. Monday, July 26, 8 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408 or 866-777-8932.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Danielle St. Laurent.

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