Lovers Lane
IE Calendar

Live Review and Photo Gallery: Poster Children at Bottom Lounge • Chicago

| May 29, 2023


Poster Children


Poster Children

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Bottom Lounge, Chicago, IL

Review and photos by Jeff Elbel

“We are Poster Children from Champaign, Illinois” has been bassist Rose Marshack’s salutation to audiences for decades. After extending a welcome to Saturday’s audience at Bottom Lounge, Marshack took questions while brothers Jim and Rick Valentin tuned their guitars. The bassist talked about her childhood in Deerfield and responded to other queries about her work and Rick’s as professors of Creative Technology at Illinois State University in Normal. Connections were drawn to Bloomington, Chicago, Lakewood, and more. As the band launched “Wanna,” Marshack amended her greeting. “We are Poster Children from … Illinois!”

The first salvo of songs celebrated the vinyl reissue of the band’s 1989 full-length debut Flower Plower. Opening track “Dangerous Life” was omitted, but the album’s remaining seven songs were played in order with feral punk rock energy. “What part of that was not way too fast,” asked an energized Marshack on mic following a particularly rowdy “Eye.” Marshack praised singer-songwriter-guitarist Rick Valentin’s skillful work on “Modern Art,” noting that not just any indie rocker would have produced a couplet rhyming “George Seurat” with “painting dots.” “You’re almost as good as Pete Shelley,” she said to her partner.

Following jangling and starry-eyed album closer “She Walks,” Poster Children took a whirlwind tour through its remaining eight albums. Highlights included the pointed “Devil and the Gun” from 2018’s Grand Bargain, a song criticizing the irresponsibility of America’s collective firearm fetish. Drummer Matt Friscia and Valentin made hysterical faces at each other following a momentary false start to “This Town Needs a Fire,” making a quick recovery and digging into the song’s frenetic surge.

Read Jeff Elbel’s review of Rose Marshack’s Play Like a Man

“I wanna thank Love Battery for letting me rip off their bass part,” said Marshack before starting “Shy” from No More Songs About Sleep and Fire. Valentin later commented on the coming AI-pocalypse, noting that the band was offering an AI-generated t-shirt at the merch table. “We’re trying to get in good with the machines before they start culling the herd,” he said.

“6×6,” “21st Century,” and “He’s My Star” were a one-two-three punch of tuneful pop and math rock, signified by joyful smiles between the Valentin brothers as Marshack and Friscia locked together as a heavy rhythmic engine. “I’m going to scrape the sky tonight and shake down all the stars,” sang Rick Valentin during the chugging “Dynamite Chair.” The howling “If You See Kay” was another familiar song from the early ‘90s when Poster Children were underground favorites on MTV’s 120 Minutes.

Following a dizzying “Junior Citizen,” Marshack thanked Chicago band Moon for opening the show with songs from their recent Sapiens album. Poster Children’s set concluded with the sublime vibe and enveloping thunder of Daisychain Reaction closer “Where We Live” and its portrait of an idyllic hometown troubled by an unnamed event at the schoolhouse. It was prescient songwriting in 1992 that resonates more than 30 years later.

Given day jobs and family responsibilities, Poster Children aren’t the common touring presence that they once were. The band is powerful and tight nonetheless, and well worth catching when possible. The band has a handful of Midwest shows this summer, including the Make Music Normal Festival in Normal, Illinois, on June 24. The event is free to all ages.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Featured, IE Photo Gallery, Live Reviews

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.