TOTAL CHAOS, BATTALION OF SAINTS A.D. 5/26, HEMENSWAY CHURCH A flashback to hardcore circa 1984 and proof that not all kids these days are gobbling ecstasy at illegal raves. Total Chaos is an Ontario, California, combo whose members sport electric Mohawks that would've made the Exploited blush. With their relentless buzz-saw throttle and cliched anarchist exhortations they dredge up memories of better-forgotten bands like GBH. San Diego's Battalion of Saints were actually playing plenty of hardcore matinees back in 1984, and their old output has been recently collected on a CD called Death R Us (Taang). Except for singer George Anthony and a former drummer, all the original members are dead, but since re-forming punk bands has proven to be a lucrative venture, Anthony rounded out the lineup with other has-beens like former Discharge/Broken Bones guitarist Tezz and former UK Subs bassist Gregor Kramer and rechristened the band Battalion of Saints A.D. Like, punk's not dead, just the punks are. SHANNON WORRELL 5/26, OTIS' On her debut, Three Wishes (Super Duke), Shannon Worrell delivers stripped-down acoustic folk rock for the H.O.R.D.E. nation. As a proud F.O.D. (friend of Dave, as in Matthews), she makes music that superficially suggests singer-songwriters like Shawn Colvin, but closer investigation reveals she's a more sensitive and restrained shadow of Sheryl Crow. She may not sound much like Ms. Crow, but she's got the same Bud-swilling attitudinal appeal the Grammy winner exudes. Snoozy. TORTOISE 5/26, CHICAGO FILMMAKERS, 5/28, LOUNGE AX Following a spate of new releases--a couple of intriguing import-only singles and Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters (Thrill Jockey), a collection of tunes from their debut album radically remixed by band members and people like Steve Albini, Brad Wood, and Jim O'Rourke--Tortoise return from an east-coast tour for their first local gigs since February. As the new recordings prove, the quintet continues to blur the line between studio experimentation and blunted rhythms. Labradford, spare celestial drone makers from Richmond, Virginia, who have a new album out next month on Kranky, open Friday's gig. The Lounge Ax appearance is part of the annual Cardigan Festival, a four-night benefit for Howard Brown's AIDS Care and Counseling program that also includes gigs by the Sea & Cake, Kittywinder, Freakwater, Yum Yum, Motorhome, and Gastr del Sol's David Grubbs. Check the music listings for more detailed info. Q101 JAMBOREE '95 5/27, WORLD MUSIC THEATRE With only the Flaming Lips to offer the possibility of redemption, this sold-out alternative rock extravaganza might well represent the most painfully purgatorial festival lineup ever assembled. Phunk Junkeez play warmed-over white-boy metal rap funk that's as offensive--"You fucking bitch / I hope you choke"--as it is clunky and unoriginal. Faith No More's new album Fool for a Lifetime (Slash/Reprise) clearly proves these limited art-metal funksters have reached a permanent impasse. England's Bush, who claim in interviews to really be "an American band," are this year's ubiquitous one- or two-hit wonders: their utterly insubstantial debut, Sixteen Stone (Trauma/Interscope), rips off Nirvana so blatantly that Second Coming (Geffen), the new album by Manchester's Stone Roses, almost sounds novel in its tepid appropriation of 60s blues rock. Attendees will also endure Sheryl Crow, Duran Duran, Collective Soul, Sponge, KMFDM, and a few others. This veritable hell on earth makes Lollapalooza seem as sophisticated as opening night at the opera. VERTICAL HORIZON 5/27, OTIS' Keith Kane and Matthew Scannell achieve the same yawn-inducing, polite effect as Shannon Worrell, 'cept they evoke latter-day James Taylor. LITTLE FEAT 5/28, SKYLINE STAGE Yes, they're still at it. And they've got a perfectly unremarkable new album--Ain't Had Enough Fun (Zoo)--to satisfy record buyers who can't believe the 70s are really over. KELLY WILLIS 5/29, SKYLINE STAGE One of the most appealing female country singers to come along this last decade, Austin's Kelly Willis took a charge at Nashville and lost. The three records she made for MCA, who've since dropped her, may have failed to translate into big sales, but they have an exuberant rockabilly cast and a rich tunefulness. Her brassy, swooping voice is equally adept at limning pretty ballads or stomping through honky-tonk romps. She opens for Texas Tornados, her first Chicago appearance in almost two years. NORMAN & NANCY BLAKE 6/1, CORONET Flat-picking guitar legend Norman Blake has impressive performing credits: he's played with Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and John Hartford; he's on Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's classic Will the Circle Be Unbroken; and most recently he showed up all over the new Steve Earle album. In duet with his wife Nancy he serves up old-timey country. On their most recent album, While Passing Along the Way (Shanachie), the duo perform obscure chunks of Americana on vintage instruments--guitar, cello, mandolin, fiddle, accordion--using an uncluttered, spare attack. It's a long way from the highly processed sounds most folks associate with current Nashville output. The more modern sounds of Kathy Kallick & the Little Big Band, along with recently transplanted bluegrass guitarist Slavek Hanzlik, open.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Kurt Markus.