Scrawl | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

In the post-Nirvana era it's no longer surprising for a band to be audibly influenced by both 70s FM hard-rock stars like Ted Nugent and Cheap Trick and underground icons like Wire and Beat Happening; what sets Scrawl apart is its reductionist approach. The guitar trio builds its songs around a few carefully rendered details rather than a lot of big flashy gestures; even when guitarist Marcy Mays hits air-guitar-worthy metallic chords, Scrawl is mercifully free of egotistical showboating. Velvet Hammer, the band's fifth record, is both its hardest rocking and most carefully crafted album; engineer Steve Albini's raw guitar textures both complement and illustrate the songs' emotional desolation. Despite the music's dark edges, in concert the band purges its blues in pursuit of a good time. Mays and bassist Sue Harshe joke with each other and the audience (during one Chicago performance they acted out a one-minute condensation of their favorite parts from the movie Carrie), and when they kick into rave-ups like "Green Beer" they're simply exhilarating. Opening is Larry Cash Jr., a young Chicago band whose nerdy, noisy groove could be likened to Devo covering Booker T. and the MGs. Friday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chas Krider.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →