Monday, July 26, 2004

Concert Recommendation: The Hives, the Metro, Monday, July 26

Many reviews of the Hives show at the South by Southwest music festival expressed amazement that the uniformly attired Swedish garage rockers were more than a one-hit wonder novelty act. Clearly, no one who said that had seen them previously or bothered to listen to Veni Vidi Vicious in its entirety. Frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist commands attention, and the band knows how to squeeze the most out of a three-minute rock song, or, in the case of "The Hives-Declare Guerre Nucleaire," squeeze a three-minute rock song into a minute and a half.

The Hives play the Metro, 3730 N. Clark, Chicago, 773.549.0203, at 7 p.m. with Sahara Hotnights and the Reigning Sound.

Friday, July 16, 2004

I declined to recommend the Streets' show in Chicago a few weeks ago because, as much as I like Original Pirate Material, I wasn't impressed by main Street Mike Skinner as a live performer. It wasn't for the reasons described in my previous entry, the problem of the producer being more talented than the artist. It was because of diluted entertainment. Skinner spent too much time giving shout-outs to Chicago and generally pandering to the audience and not enough time actually playing his songs.

But there's no such problem with Skinner's sophomore effort A Grand Don't Come For Free. Like its predecessor, the production values are still rinky-dink, but they befit the mundane existence that the album chronicles. Grand is more ambition than Original Pirate Material even if its narrator isn't. It's a song cycle about a day in a life, a day where everything goes wrong, from the TV breaking to £1000 disappearing from his home. The lyrics are precise and humorous, the best on "Fit But You Know It," similar in theme to Mudhoney's "You Got It" but with the added bonus of the singer losing his place in line at the chip shop after being distracted by the ego-inflated hottie. Skinner's simultaneous pick-up/put-down:
See I reckon you're about an 8 or a 9
Maybe even 9 and a half in four beers time

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Concert Recommendation: The Mooney Suzuki, the Metro, Wednesday, July 7

I've always had more faith in bands whose albums don't live up to their concerts rather than vice versa. When an artist is great on disc but lackluster live, it implies that the talent was more in the hands of the producer. But it's the producer's shortcomings that result in a great live band's energy not being captured in recording, or at least that the band brings a strong visual element in front of an audience. With this in mind, there is much unnecessary trepidation about production team the Matrix producing the new Mooney Suzuki album. The Matrix is best known for their slick work with Avril Lavigne and on Liz Phair's self-titled (aka sell-out) album. So they may fuck with the band's recorded sound, but there's no way they can dilute the Mooney Suzuki's mighty power as a live act. Go see for yourself, then judge the upcoming Alive & Amplified on its own merits.

The Mooney Suzuki plays the Metro, 3730 N. Clark, Chicago, 773.549.0203, at 7 p.m. with Capitol Years and the Last Vegas.