Why? and the Meat Puppets bring their disparate sounds to the eclectic Do Division lineup | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Why? and the Meat Puppets bring their disparate sounds to the eclectic Do Division lineup

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Weeks before the official start of summer, Do Division helps Chicago kick off music-festival season. Empty Bottle Presents and Subterranean programmed its East and West stages, respectively, with a lively mix of bands and DJs from Friday night through Sunday evening. Among this year’s notable acts are two groups that have recently celebrated career milestones: Cincinnati indie-rock and alternative hip-hop band Why? and southwestern alt-rock giants the Meat Puppets (now based in Phoenix and Austin). Last year Why?’s groundbreaking second album, Alopecia, turned ten, and the group marked the occasion with an anniversary reissue on Joyful Noise and a tour where they played it in full at each show. Alopecia remains relevant in part for its intricate production, which fuses the slick grooviness of programmed hip-hop beats with the freshness of live-tracked acoustic instruments, creating an eclectic sound that’s complemented by front man Yoni Wolf and his rambling but finely crafted collages of witty metaphors and slippery memories. Even today, you can discover something new every time you listen to it. In March, the Meat Puppets released their 15th studio album, Dusty Notes (Megaforce), the first to include all three members of their original lineup since 1995’s No Joke!—though the band is now filled out by guitarist Elmo Kirkwood (son of front man Curt Kirkwood) and keyboardist Ron Stabinsky. The Meat Puppets’ signature overdriven instruments and endearing vocals are there, along with healthy doses of acoustic guitar and banjo and a newfound sense of calmness and restraint. Whether this lineup will continue past the shows planned around this record remains to be seen, but as long as they continue to surpass the reunion hype, I’m more than ready to hear what further growth a fourth decade of the Meat Puppets will bring. Both bands headline the West Stage at Do Division, Why? on Saturday and the Meat Puppets on Sunday, but don’t ignore the rest of the bill—this year’s diverse bookings include chill pop-rock whiz Paul Cherry and jazz explorer Makaya McCraven.   v

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