The Franco-English pop combo Stereolab seamlessly integrate influences from 30-odd years of musical eccentrics like the Silver Apples, Neu, the Modern Lovers, and Esquivel into richly textured, indelibly melodic songs. The group's signature sound--a blend of cooing multilingual vocals, clipped rhythms, and droning vintage keyboards--is as fetching as it is instantly identifiable. Their concert performances have been marked by a reserved antipresence onstage and haven't always measured up to the records. But the band's appearance last year at Lounge Ax was enlivened by a newfound and thoroughly welcome aggression, and early reports from this tour suggest that they're taking this direction even further. Since their last show here they've released two discs with Chicago connections: Refried Ectoplasm, a singles compilation available from the local Drag City label, and Emperor Tomato Ketchup, a splendid new album--partially recorded in town with Tortoise's John McEntire--that finds them adding 70s Euro-funk and lush strings to the mix. Opening are Tel Aviv and Cornershop--a great English group that weds dance beats, Velvet Underground-style guitar drones, and Punjabi folk music. DJ Ken Waagner will spin records between sets. Friday, 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203. BILL MEYER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ralph Perou.