Salvo Beta | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Salvo Beta


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Are friends electric? Salvo Beta's computer wrangler, Sean Wolfe, has already answered Gary Numan's question for himself, but his attitude seems to be: With friends like these, who needs enemies? "The machines that enable his creative process have also failed him the most," says the duo's bio from Someoddpilot Records, the label that released 2001's Abrasive Stuttering--Salvo Beta's debut and only proper full-length so far. "He was influenced by loud rock and a tendency toward eroding his possessions, which makes mechanical abuse and misuse natural." I don't doubt that Wolfe has a closet piled high with blown-out and busted gear: when I saw the band play the Empty Bottle in 2002, he manhandled his rig--a rack of computers, mixers, and signal processors--like it was the control panel of a crippled spaceship locked in a tug-of-war with a black hole. Most electronica acts just slouch behind the glowing Apple icons on their laptops, sipping a pint and checking their e-mail, but Salvo Beta has a physicality that's pure rock 'n' roll. Dan Smith, the other full-time member, plays live drums onstage, and he's a brute. Rock is all about abusing equipment, after all, and the rule book doesn't say that only guitars count. That's why it's the only genre that sounds better the less competent the musicians are, and why punk is its Platonic ideal. When I play Salvo Beta on my iPod, I like to pretend that the little white box is actually a sort of digital voodoo doll--in my mind, the terrible seizing-processor noise that comes out when I poke it is actually a supercomputer somewhere in Washington imploding in a shower of blue sparks. Emulsion and Comorevi-Butter Fly open. Mon 11/28, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. Free.

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