Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Don’t fear the weekend (baby take my hand)

| June 21, 2012

Nobody should be expected to tolerate that kind of weather — unless it’s for a three-day August weekend, for which you’ve paid big money to stand in a field hours on end. Keane, Innkeepers, Crocodiles, Scissor Sisters, Chandeliers, and Hellyeah aim to take the heat off.

Is it fair to be disappointed in Keane? To many, that the Irish quintet share a name with two of Ireland’s greatest modern footballers was an accident; they’re a mopey outfit hellbent on sweeping up as many adult-alternative dollars as they can. It didn’t necessarily start this way: Keane swept into post-Rush Of Blood To The Head hysteria with a pair of precious guilty pleasures: “Everybody’s Changing” and “Somewhere Only We Know.” Their sophomore outing’s encroaching dross could be attributed to a young band facing label pressure to replicate success, but a compelling storyline arrived when frontman Tom Chaplin checked himself into rehab. Not to make light of substance abuse or suggest everyone goes through the same thing, but his subsequent return didn’t herald a shift into more nuanced or confessional songcraft. Their first effort hence kicked out the piano bench and got on its feet a little, but with this year’s Strangeland (Cherrytree), Keane retreat into an approximation of their old sound, employing delayed piano effects and sitting back into a midtempo/ballad A/B pattern, the backside of which invariably reles on “Hey Jude” or “Let It Be.” (Friday@Vic Theatre with Patrick Watson.)

If ever Ed Roeser signals that he’s about to lament Urge Overkill’s misfortunes, you can bet that brother John turns from the next barstool to holler, “SHADDAP!” Sibling Roeser’s musical career is as gritty as a rock singer/songwriter’s can get: full of false starts, doomed bands, and empty crowds. Innkeepers, however, will gladly take this weekend’s opening slot, even if it would have been more beneficial 20 years ago. (Friday@Subterranean with Dinosaur Jr.)

It’s not the size of your Jesus & Mary Chain infatuation: it’s what you do with it. In Crocodiles‘ case, the size erases any doubts as to their potency. While they once dip into something that oddly sounds more like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Endless Flowers‘ opener/title track actually recalls The Smiths, Crocodiles do something with the JAMC template that has uncannily been ignored by most others: c’mon, get happy! Preferring energy to Scottishness, the album robustly layers fuzzy guitars over big beats that even start to swing at times. “Bubblegum Trash” preemptively (and metaphorically) addresses this, getting the elephant out of the room and piling forward. (Oh, and kudos for the Jesus Lizard-style back cover and inlay.) (Saturday@Reggies Joint with Devin and Slushy.)

People are bound to ask, What happened to Scissor Sisters? After a promising debut that inserted Beach Boys melancholy into gay dance pop, and a predilection for inspired covers (“Comfortably Numb,” “Take Me Out“), their hearts sank with the death of a close friend before their second album, and Night Work lost their mainstream audience on a sexual tourism sojourn in Berlin. This year’s Magic Hour again strays from the colorful nightlife from which they spawned and books outsider Top 40 producers — a tactic that doesn’t have the intended effect. Opener “Baby Come Home” will inevitably inhabit dancefloors summerlong, but the quirks (“San Luis Obispo,” “Let’s Have A Kiki”) and a preponderance of ballads complicate what has become an eclectic if muddled sense of career direction. (Sunday@Vic Theatre with Rye Rye.)

If you’re still reeling from the knowledge that Donna Summer made disco respectable, let me take advantage of your disorientation by adding that three white boys have made Kraftwerk even funkier. Chandeliers (and an army of robots) are finally ready to release Founding Fathers — the fourth from the South Side “Shape Shoppe” vets — which might make a hash of its intent to approach chillwave, but hey, John Pemberton didn’t exactly try to invent Coca-Cola. Within the first four tracks, they morph from strutting golden-age hip-hop, to sensual ’80s funk, to TV On The Radio ether, and tubular Eno, without ever straying from pop’s grasp. (Monday@Empty Bottle with Golden Birthday and Bitchin’ Bajas.)

No one ever seems to point out — especially when outsiders are attacking it — that metal bands are basically fun-loving guys. The core Pantera elements that drummer Vinnie Paul has imported into Hellyeah would expectedly frighten most conservative parents, but the party element sometimes gets lost in translation. Sure, the way Chad Gray screeches “Let’s get fucked up!” on Band Of Brothers‘ “Drink Drank Drunk” carries an element of menace that suggests taking PCP while drinking from a stockpiled stash of Four Loko, but tomay-to, tomah-to. (Monday@House Of Blues with Iced Earth and Dirge Within.)

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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