EFFIGIES 9/10, EMPTY BOTTLE One of Chicago's better-known early punk bands, along with Naked Raygun and Big Black, the Effigies don't have the best timing when it comes to reunions. Formed in late 1979, they broke up for the first time in '86; shortly thereafter Metallica offered them an opening slot on a European tour. They said no, but re-formed the next year--then broke up again in 1990, just in time to not support Roadkill Records' Effigies comp, Remains Nonviewable (since reissued on Touch and Go). For this show, their first since 1996, Earl Letiecq, whose metallic guitar gave John Kezdy's blue-collar disgruntlement a serrated edge, will be replaced in the otherwise all-original lineup by Robert McNaughton, who wrote the score to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Vee Dee and the Krunchies open. JON DEE GRAHAM 9/10, FITZGERALD'S The middle of America can seem like a pretty grim place, and Austin-based singer-songwriter Jon Dee Graham is doing his part to keep it that way. The early-alt-country vet's new album, The Great Battle (New West), produced by Charlie Sexton, has a heavy, dour, funereal sound, as wide as the Kansas horizon and as bleak as November. Overlapping Crazy Horse guitars duel with a voice that sounds like it has tombstone chips in it on track after elegiac track, including a cover of Neil Young's "Harvest." But listen close to cuts like "World So Full" and Graham doesn't sound so very unhappy with his lot--he just isn't trying very hard to sell it to anyone else. Devil in a Woodpile opens. OTTMAR LIEBERT & LUNA NEGRA 9/10, PARK WEST Spanish guitar that flits and flickers fluently over smoove jazz? Somebody's gonna make a million! Or not. Guitarist Ottmar Liebert explains that La Semana, his first album of all-new material in five years, "began with the idea of a diary," but he didn't let actual words clutter up the mix so the tunes could be open to the interpretation of each listener. He doesn't explain how that makes it different from any other instrumental music. My own interpretation has something to do with...no, sorry, that was something I saw on a cruise ship commercial. TACKHEAD 9/10, ABBEY PUB This transatlantic mind meld, fusing dub, hip-hop, and industrial music, peaked in the late 80s, but despite the vogue for the musical fashions of that decade I wouldn't have pegged Tackhead as a likely prospect for a reunion. For one thing, if you look at all the interlocking projects the members have been involved with since the band dissolved in the early 90s--Fats Comet, Strange Parcels, etc--the breakup starts to seem like a mere formality. Drummer Keith LeBlanc, bassist Doug Wimbish, and guitarist Skip McDonald, formerly the house band for the pioneering hip-hop label Sugar Hill, and On-U Sound guru Adrian Sherwood probably have their PDAs filled through 2010. Nevertheless they're planning to record again under the Tackhead name; a new album from McDonald's band Little Axe is due this month. All these guys, plus longtime vocalist Bernard Fowler, are playing this show; reports from the road say the set list stretches back all the way to the Sugar Hill days. HUSBANDS 9/12, SCHUBAS White Stripes gotten too arty for ya? Find the Black Keys too slick? The Husbands, an all-female San Francisco trio (with an occasional fourth on extra percussion), strip the bare bones of rock 'n' roll down to the gooey marrow. On their debut, 2003's Introducing the Husbands (Swami), a primitive pop sweetness best exemplified on a belted-out cover of Carole King's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" holds together their proudly primal R & B riffing. The Red Eyed Legends and Hyper Viper open; it's 18 and over. MAMMALS 9/12, OLD TOWN SCHOOL This Massachusetts-based quintet generated a lot of buzz in the "acoustic community" with their first album, Evolver, and it was justified: blending old-timey string sounds with the energy of rock without watering down either is hella hard, and their skill at it blew me away. The new Rock That Babe (Signature Sounds) is more of the same, a collection of trad and new material played on a warehouse-size arsenal of instruments. The political heritage of folk music isn't exactly short-shrifted in the originals, but so far the Mammals are better at making it funny than hitting it hard: "The Bush Boys" is more a sing-along hoot than a protest anthem. That's OK, though--"John Henry" is battle cry enough. MANHANDLERS 9/14, BOTTOM LOUNGE Inspired amateurism is no longer anywhere near the radical statement it was a quarter century ago. Anyone can be in a band, and damn near everyone is. The Manhandlers, celebrating the release of their self-titled debut on Criminal IQ, have nothing to set them apart but their gender and their fashion sense--but that still gives them a leg or two up on most of their male counterparts. These local women, led by snarly Syd Delicious, are clearly having fun with their by-the-numbers trash punk. Chug enough PBRs and maybe you will too. Minor British punk legends the Vibrators headline; the Plastik Explosives open. It's 18 and over. THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES 9/16, BOTTOM LOUNGE On their first full-length, Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, these ex Seattle hardcore players uphold their rep as the band that can beat up all the other bands on Jade Tree. They crash the sensitivity workshop of emo with angular, fractal riffs full of malice, like Fugazi if they used their powers for evil instead of good. Engine Down headlines and the Reputation opens; it's 18 and over.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Robin Laananen.