Wedge | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Wedge is an unassuming quartet of local veterans led by Hugh Hart, who in the 80s fronted the new-wave contenders the Odd. It's part of the great midwestern pop-rock tradition that spawned bands like Cheap Trick, the Replacements, and countless 60s garage hooligans. While many groups today are tagged as purveyors of "classically" tailored rock 'n' roll, few are as worthy of the term as Wedge. Hart does more than string together a few catchy guitar riffs, slap on some perfunctory vocalizing, and call it a song. He skillfully layers distinctive vocal melodies and sharply plotted chord progressions over tough hooks to create pieces that are thoroughly contemporary even as they evoke the spirit of the Kinks circa 1967. Wedge songs all rest on a firm, grimy guitar bed, but they also incorporate swaggering R & B, rumbling quasi-psychedelia, and harmonica-dusted acoustic strum-alongs. Hart's wry lyrics hark back to the biting social commentary that characterizes much of the best pop music in the late 60s. Live, Wedge puts some extra kick into the tunes, with the rhythm section of Jeff Thomas (drums) and Harrison Robinson (bass) delivering a sharp, rhythmic propulsion while J.D. Dragus's guitar leads provide a complementary edge. The band's onstage humor and ebullient demeanor are either odd or refreshing, depending on how partial you are to the detached performances prevalent in alternative rock. Opening for the Elvis Brothers. Friday, 9:30 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont; 281-4444.

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