Wallets | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Yes, weird 'n' arty they is, but the Wallets also know how to funk it up. Leader/frontman/accordionist Steve Kramer pens songs that show off his ear for catchy, off-kilter funk and rock riffs, and "sings" his elliptical lyrics in a voice that somehow sounds bland and compelling at the same time. The other Wallets, impeccable musicians all, flesh out Kramer's ideas with strange and wonderful panache (their timbral novelty much enhanced by the fact that no one in the ensemble plays guitar). Legendary in their hometown of Minneapolis for their anything-can-happen live performances, the Wallets are the band that turned down a gig at one major Chicago club because the management wouldn't allow Kramer to ride up to the stage on a horse. In fact, they haven't played a club gig here in ages. Some of us have been waiting a long time to hear them live, forced to fill the gap with endless spins of their Twin-Tone debut, Take It (produced, oddly enough, by New Orleans funkmaster Allen Toussaint), one of the most intriguing LPs of 1986. As tortures go, it's a bearable one, I admit. Saturday, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

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