Siderunners, Sonnets | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The first time I spun 2004's Mystery Girl (Failed Experiment), the second album by local ass kickers the SONNETS, I took in their bouncy, gritty mix of punky power pop, surf, Who-style melodies, Motorhead-ish oomph, and Insomniacs-like garage and thought, "Pretty good." But a second listen wrecked my day: the band's rare talent to turn joy and anger into a holy flame of rock 'n' roll passion managed to pierce my jaded skull, and though I had lots to do I wound up boinging around the house playing air drums all fucking afternoon. Mystery Girl wouldn't work without the rough-edged pipes of singer-guitarist Vee Sonnets, who founded the group in 1992 and somehow juggles it with four other bands. He writes a mean lyric, too: if you don't think it's a spiritual experience to hear the lines "I really like the moves you make / I really like the sounds you fake" hissed over a barely restrained surf beat and followed by a paean-to-rawk chorus, get out of the gee-tar church and quit hogging all the incense, OK? If you're the type who cares about punk-rock resumes, onetime members of the Vindictives, M.O.T.O., and the Methadones have passed through the Sonnets' lineup. They plan to record new songs later this winter; no word on a release date, but I'm getting my taxes out of the way now. --Ann Sterzinger

The SIDERUNNERS' 2002 debut album, Ain't Inventin' the Wheel (reissued late last year by Failed Experiment), is aptly titled; these locals play a foursquare style of alt-country that's perfectly comfortable with the genre's cliches. But there's a snappy, fierce, Jason & the Scorchers-like energy in their songs that really comes out live, with shards of punk flying off their hard-drinking honky-tonk. --Monica Kendrick

This show is a fifth-anniversary celebration for Failed Experiment Records. The Siderunners headline, Vanishing Kids play second, and the Sonnets open. Mon 2/6, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401. Free.

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