Strawberry | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Two years ago the pop-culture journal Hermenaut published an issue on the phenomenon of "fake authenticity." "Will there ever be an end," wrote editor Joshua Glenn, "to the spectacle of (white, middle-class) people draping themselves in exotic fabrics, bribing sherpas to haul them up mountains, spending $15 for turkey-burgers in urban hunting lodges, ooh-ing and aah-ing over macaroni paintings by schizophrenics...[and] fetishizing people darker and/or poorer than themselves?" The indie-rock world, with its dowdy eyeglasses and gas station jackets, has its share of problems with this sort of spiritual myopia--so thank God for bands like Strawberry, a local act that prides itself on authentic fakery. Scott Gibbons and Jonathan Joe (who moonlight as Bobby Conn sidemen) formed the band more than a decade ago as college students, and it's gone through countless lineup changes, at one point mutating into the sadly overlooked glam-punk quartet Vanilla. When they revived the band in 1999, they also decided to meticulously prerecord their sets and mime their (extremely rare) live performances, the better to focus on their rock 'n' roll circus. "To my surprise, the people who went apeshit over us were disappointed when we told them what we were doing," writes Joe. "I honestly thought it didn't matter anymore, given that Brittany Spears et al openly lip sync." The band's debut album, Strawberry (Taigkyo), is an elaborate wedding cake of sunny Europop ("Strawberry Planet"), warped rock ("When You Came"), robotic disco ("Little One"), vapid balladry ("Princess," "See You Tonight"), and scathing punk ("Jass Me," "The Octagon Room"). They've gradually been bringing live instruments back into their stage show, and at this gig, they'll completely double the music onstage for the first time, creating a stereo image that should prove once and for all that art and artifice are one and the same. Cheer-Accident and the Flying Luttenbachers open. Friday, December 28, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.

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