Weekend Preview: Saturday, March 18
It is the curse and the blessing of living in a large metropolitan area that brings choice squires of underground rock through our thoroughfares in droves thicker than Lake Michigan sludge. As RFC’s chief indie rock correspondent, I would like to take it upon myself to help lead you crazy pasty white folk through what might be a perplexing ordeal on this St. Paddy's Day weekend: choosing the right show. Like Aristotle, every indie kid knows the world is comprised of four elements: ambience, buzz, cred, and rep. Using these criteria to evaluate five artists that will land on our shores this Saturday, March 18, I hope to aid you in uncovering what act it is that your oversized Leprechaun heart truly desires. 1. Arctic Monkeys Ambience: the Metro should be the perfect setting for you to get your Brit power pop groove on. You and all the other eighty million kids going to this sold out show. Buzz: Presently approaching its zenith. Beware of falling conductor caps. Cred: Well, they’re saying Arctic Monkeys are the saviors of British music, and they're hailing vocalist Alex Turner as the next Morrissey. Who’s saying these things? I don’t know. Rep: All accounts indicate these lads are bursting balloons of volatile energy. Could be hit or miss, depending upon how drunk the band and/or the crowd becomes. 2. Mike Doughty Ambience: Old Town School of Folk Music. Yawn. But an appropriate venue for an old indie townie who plays folk music. Buzz: Yeah, like, ten years ago. Cred: Seems to be going down at a steady pace since he went solo. But he does have his faithful followers who swear by his genius. Rep: Mr. Doughty is a charmer who, between acoustic guitar strums, does a lot of pleasant bantering with the crowd and isn’t afraid to make jokes. So expect a laidback show. Expect guffawing and warm fuzzy feelings of love in your tummy. 3. Shipping News Ambience: Shipping News’s intricate drone should fill up Schubas just fine, and perhaps dissuade the drunken yuppies from crawling in from the tavern, leaving the indolent head bobbing to we who really mean it. Buzz: Ha! They don’t even have a functional Myspace page. Cred: Eh. Their latest effort might not be the best, but it’s nothing that’s ruined their credibility as an under the radar, under-appreciated indie pop goody. And their utter lack of buzz only adds to their street cred. Don’t be afraid of the non-hype, kids. Rep: As far as I’ve read, they put on a modest, tight show that might not blow you away, but it just might make you a fan. 4. Akron/Family Ambience: The gritty indie haven that is the Empty Bottle. Akron/Family’s pop delicacy might be lost in the muffled mess of bar chat and bad acoustics; however, this might not make a difference (see rep). Buzz: A/K’s hype was so 2005. Things have calmed, people have stopped thinking about top ten lists, and in 2006 they’ve become hipster-approved. Cred: Fairly solid. They’re on Young God, a label unsurpassable in its quietly quirky and chic respectability, and critics agree that last year’s self-titled album and split release with Angels of Light actually deserved the critical praise critics gave them. Rep: Their live show can be described in the following outburst: “Weird. Bizarre. Oww, noisy! WTF! Was that good? I think I’m in pain. I think I might like it.” 5. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers Ambience: The Abbey Pub. The Abbey Pub? These psychos should be playing in a dilapidated garage somewhere, during a garage party thrown by the pimply punks who make your sandwiches down at the Jimmy Johns. Buzz: These guys are way too fucking cool to have ever been buzzworthy. Cred: They’ll never win a Grammy, they’ll never be invited to Spin’s birthday party, and no critic will ever worship them. Rep: Apparently they’re only the greatest live act on the planet!!!!!! Front man J.D. Wilkes is manic and unashamed and will delight you with cartwheels and karate kicks and every other spastic dance move he fancies. Be prepared to be disturbed into a frenzy. In conclusion: Don’t sell your Arctic Monkeys tickets on Craigslist. But don’t buy Arctic Monkeys tickets on Craigslist either. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers might be your best bet, but the more adventurous will probably want to hit the Bottle and take a chance on the bizarre indie pop noise of Akron/Family. Do not, however, count out Shipping News and their sleeper capability. I just don’t think I’d want to be on the corner of Southport and Belmont on St. Patrick’s Day Saturday. I’m not that adventurous. Of course I’m not. That’s why I’m a chief indie rock correspondent.