A cloud of fog emerged over the drum set after 45-minutes of roadie gear tinkering. The swelling, dark backing track warmed the crowd as The Dears hit the stage Thursday night at Schubas in Chicago. Dressed sharply with dour expressions, they resembled a Gorey-esque indie-rock theater company as they performed a set comprised mainly of songs from their upcoming release, Gang Of Losers (Arts & Crafts).
The show was precise and taut from start to finish. Synthesizer and canned interludes filled the gaps between songs as Murray Lightburn exhausted his array of beautiful guitars. Vocal interplay between Valerie Jodoin-Keaton, Natalia Yanchak and Lightburn was consistently sharp and occasionally brilliant. Patrick Krief's guitar work was at once painterly and ripping on the burner, "Lost In The Plot." And the rhythm section of Martin Pelland and George Donoso III unfurled the tightly knit rumbling songs, ebbing and flowing in intensity.
The mostly college-aged crowd knew much of the new material, despite the October 3rd U.S. release date of Gang Of Losers. However, as the set wore on and the Dears dug for the deep cuts, the crowd's enthusiasm swelled. Jodoin-Keaton's flute on "Never Destroy Us" lilted through the crowd, eliciting cool sways and cheers. The set ended as it began, with a pre-recorded swell, and a march from the stage out into the street.
Upstairs, DJs Matt Roan and Andrew Foster were kicking the jams for the over-21 set, slicing through eclectic mixes of all genres. Roan, a fixture in the Chicago community for over a year, has a keen sense for what makes the kids shake it and the kids were shaking it in spades. Who else can mix Tone-Loc's "Wild Thang" with Wings' "Jet" with deft aplomb? Who? Matt Roan will be appearing each Thursday in September as a part of
The Onion, Schubas and Warsteiner's DJs Upstairs weekly series.
by Tom Smith (Office)