ANSON FUNDERBURGH & THE ROCKETS 9/3, BUDDY GUY'S Legends This fine Texas-based blues band gives its guitarist top billing, but he's not the hoary grandstander that might suggest--the recent Change in My Pocket (Bullseye Blues & Jazz) is dominated by Sam Myers's distinctive stuffy-nosed bellowing and Delta-learned harp blowing and the lively tinkling of pianist John Street. You'd doubtless notice Funderburgh's absence if he suddenly vanished, though--and not just from the audible hiss of his empty channel mixed miles over everything else, either. I, ROWBOAT 9/4, SCHUBAS This quartet, currently working on its debut LP for the local Spoonfed label, features veterans of several decent local groups--Marvel Kind, Paulina Hollers, and the late, barely lamented Pasted On--but the two songs I got to hear are mostly the work of singer and multi-instrumentalist Eric Johnson. They've got a cozy, breezy, woozy, wistful Yo La Tengo-Velvets vibe, instantly familiar but still fresh--quite promising. Heroic Doses (the other band led by Bill Dolan of Five Style, see below) headlines. BRAZILIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY FEST 9/5, THE NOTE Chicago's Brazilian community is too small to have been tallied in the last census, but it's sizable enough to put on a pretty good party when the occasion arises. This fest, headlined by the Chicago Samba School, starts at 6 PM and features Brazilian cuisine, poetry in Portuguese, capoeira, and music by composer and instrument maker Fernando Sardo and singer-guitarist Paulinho Garcia. The serious dancing starts at 11 with a samba demonstration. ALLETTE BROOKS 9/5, HEARTLAND CAFE Judging by her self-released debut, Silicon Valley Rebel, Allette Brooks is a competent and tasteful acoustic guitar picker, but it's hard to hear that through all the wind. It's not just the navel-gazing lyrics--who keeps teaching these girls that whoops and wails and octave leaps will somehow render the words more profound? I loved Laura Nyro too, but I'm not looking for a replacement. FIVE STYLE 9/7, EMPTY BOTTLE It's never been a question of whether these guys were still around, exactly--with guitarist Bill Dolan leading Heroic Doses, drummer John Herndon continuing in Tortoise and Isotope 217, bassist LeRoy Bach playing everything from country to funk, and keyboardist Jeremy Jacobsen subsumed by his alter ego the Lonesome Organist, it's nearly impossible to avoid them. It's just that they no longer put up much of a united front. It's been four years since their debut, and if they weren't exactly a supergroup then, they are now...and like many bands whose members put most of their energy into other projects, on their new Miniature Portraits (Sub Pop) they comingle their individual talents without ever quite coming into focus as a unit: "The Lost Oar" is actually a 1997 Lonesome composition, the math funk of "Mythical Numbers" follows the trajectory Dolan's taken with the Doses, and "The Fancy Dance in Jeremy's Pants" suggests that somebody's been taking salsa lessons. That said, all four musicians sure can play, and this is the first time they've all played on the same stage in ages. MY SCARLET LIFE 9/7, METRO This veteran Chicago band's latest album, Infrared (DivaNation), strikes me as a noticeable improvement over past efforts: its blend of dance pop and lite goth (which someone has retroactively dubbed "trip-hop influenced dark rock") now sounds natural where it once seemed pretentious. Maybe the songwriting is better; maybe I've been force-fed enough crap that I'm willing to give extra points to anything that shows a little craft and imagination. But for those already so inclined, this all-ages show may prove that a romantic night at Metro is not a contradiction in terms. NEBELNEST 9/7, SCHUBAS If prog promoter Michael Eisenberg did nothing else for the Chicago music scene, he'd still have a hook in my heart for organizing that astound-ing Magma visitation back in May. But after being briefly tripped up by a management upset at his old home base, Martyrs', he's still at it, giving equal time to up-and-comers as well as misty legends. This week's installment, the French quartet Nebelnest, is no Magma, but it's a more-than-respectable descendant of Crimson, Floyd, and Gong. Nebelnest (Laser's Edge), recorded without overdubs, is a dense blend of instrumentation and effects, spotlighting both composition and improvisation; every synth swoop, every Mellotron trill, every fuzzed-guitar spung or whap contributes to a sense of being lost in deep airless space with no reassurances from Carl Sagan. SUPERSUCKERS 9/9, METRO This prolific quartet suffers the same problem a lot of shit-kicking rawk bands face when reduced to record: the new compilation The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World (Sub Pop) wavers so infrequently from full throttle that well before I made it to track number 27 I was dozing off: Satancarsviolencesexdrugszzzzz...The contributions of Steve Earle and Willie Nelson do little to remedy the flatness--the only thing that briefly breaks it up is a surprisingly effective take on Ice Cube's "Dead Homiez," the B side to a 1992 single. That contract with the devil pictured on the sleeve reads suspiciously like a form letter. --Monica Kendrick
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Humpa/Klik.