Xiu Xiu | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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I'm glad I'm not Jamie Stewart, the sole constant member of Xiu Xiu: According to his label's Web site, the songs on the band's recently released third album, Fabulous Muscles (5RC), are largely autobiographical, which means he's been living through some really ugly stuff. The protagonist of "Brian the Vampire" is sexually abused by his brother, while the narrator of "Nieces Pieces (Boat Knife Version)" sings to a young child in a lip-trembling quaver, "I can't wait to tell you your grandpa made your mommy play stripper while your uncle watched." In a song about new love, "Little Panda McElroy (b)," Stewart defines his happiness as a possible reprieve from pain: "I can stop lying / I can stop punching my own face / I can stop stealing money / I can stop hating my own heart." In the wrong musical context his vignettes of family dysfunction and sick relationships could sound histrionic, but he embeds them in thrilling rise-and-fall orchestrations of noise, acoustic guitar, and displaced electronic beats that render their emotional excess credible and worthy of respect. X27, Pegasvs, and Grimble Grumble open. Saturday, March 13, 8 PM, Fireside Bowl, 2646 W. Fullerton; 773-486-2700.

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