Equalizer, Chicago 7/5/07

Equalizer showcase turns Chicago scene on its head

written by Mike Turner and Tobias Corteez
photos by Alex Pilichowski

This past Thursday, July 5th, marked the second installment of the newest and coolest monthly local music showcase in Chicago. Equalizer, sponsored by The Chicago Reader and KEXP, threw yet another kick-ass party at darkroom with Reptoids, Poison Control Center, and Paper Airplane Pilots and, as always, resident DJ’s Johnny Kesh and Mikey Dance Panther (of The Fucking Dance Panthers). They run a tight ship at darkroom and doors opened at 9 with music a-playing and drinks a-flowing as planned, but one supposedly key ingredient was missing! Mikey Dance Panther was nowhere to be found! That devilishly good looking bastard with an ego the size of Texas was a no show. Heroically, DJ Johnny Kesh somehow managed to simultaneously DJ and bartend, a feat that was previously thought to be impossible! Well, breaking records and holding down forts is what Johnny Kesh does best so as he was defying laws of modern science darkroom patrons were lubing up for a night of killer live music.


Reptoids (not “The Reptoids,” thank you) began the evenings live music by switching on their flux capacitors, revving the engine on the DeLorean and unabashedly taking the crowd back to the halcyon days of grunge music. On their myspace page, Reptoids admits to sounding like the Pixies, Breeders, The Germs, Melvins, L7, Nirvana, and Fugazi, among others. However, this being the era of the upbeat Generation Y and no longer the days of history’s Gen X Eeyores, Reptoids’ brand of grunge-esque rockn’roll did not include flannel shirts or track marked arms. Instead, bassist Chris’Toid (his preferred moniker) entertained the crowd with amusing stage banter and animated antics while churning out juicy bass grooves. Chris relinquished the spot light during songs to vocalists Melissa and Meg as they took their turns rocking the mic. Melissa and Meg are not only the voice of the band, but also the shred peddlers and if you like big, loud, distorted guitar playing that smacks of a finely tuned but noisy Yamaha engine, then you’ll enjoy the dangerous duo of “Melissa and Meg’Toid.” Making sure that their race car had gas, Kay Oh backed her band mates with rock solid beats and kept the shit on track!

The Poison Control Center

Hailing from Ames, Iowa’s and recording for Afternoon Records, The Poison Control Center were next on the bill. Someone must’ve have once told Patrick Tape Fleming that the world was his stage and he took it to heart because the guitarist/vocalist refused to be bound to the confines of the darkroom stage, instead preferring to jump into the crowd, approach the bar and effectively bridging — no, molesting– the gap between audience and performer. Later in the show, the band further raised the bar for intimate audience relations by imploring the crowd for help on the chorus of a self-described sing-along. Their begging was met positively, and for one song we were all members of the very dynamic, versatile and just a little bit frightening The Poison Control Center.

As the final notes of PCC’s last song resonated, hanging thick in a cloud of human humidity, darkroom’s Ace Tactical Response Operations and Cleanup Team, otherwise known as D.A.T.R.O.C.T (yeah, you should see their jackets), leapt into action restoring the structural integrity of the stage/PA and disposing of the scattered chunks of blown minds from PCC’s reckless tirade of a performance. The exhausted throng was in desperate need of respite, the bar had elevated the rock threat level to stage three and a code red triage mode was initiated. Victims who could still stand were being treated with large quantities of booze and beer and bringing the ancient remedy to those on cots in the back. At this point DJ Mikey Dance Panther finally decided to show his ass up two and a half hours late to his own event and pranced in all like: “Hey what’s up, guys? Sorry I’m late, I was in Miami, don’t I look good? Blah, blah, blah, how are things going? Hey check out my tight pants…geez, it looks like everyone just had their minds blown or something…what gives, yo?” He then proceeded to the DJ booth as if somebody actually cared and played his MP3s while looking really good. Fortunately, darkroom’s miracle drugs did the trick and soon people started recovering and staggering toward the stage for more, like fighters not yet ready to throw in the towel.

Paper Airline Pilots

Paper Airplane Pilots were locked and loaded and eager to deliver the final blow to a punch-drunk posse of survivors. However, before the band could start Mikey Dance Panther descended from his ivory DJ booth still high on himself and bragging about the sunburn he got on the beach in “the MIA” to loquaciously deliver the requisite shout outs and thank-yous to The Chicago Reader and KEXP listeners as well as the artists, whose names he actually pronounced correctly for the first time.

Paper Airplane Pilots eased into their set with a pitch perfect version The Beatles “Two of Us” and rocked it good and mellow for the rest of the night, channeling Wilco, Guided By Voices, and of course The Beatles. The harmonies were tight the guitars were jangley, the drums were pillowy and the tambourines were…um, Tambourine-ee. Paper Airplane Pilots delivered a rock solid set and it was a great way to wrap up the evening. You could feel the blown minds healing as the grooves settled in –I swear, some people probably even hugged. Stay tuned for more next month from Chicago’s Equalizer! It just keeps getting better!

Equalizer happens every 1st Thursday of the month.

On Thursday, August 2nd, Equalizer features The Jai Alai Savant, The Great Perhaps & Hot As Hell. $7 cover.

Learn more about Equalizer and stay in touch with KEXP in Chicago through the Chicago Posse.

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  1. Posted July 17, 2007 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    ROCK! That was a great show. All bands awesome. Thanks to KEXP and the darkroom. Equalizer is the place to be on a Thursday.

    (Oh yeah, Karen is the other guit player..Meg is the drummer.)


  2. Chris Olson
    Posted July 17, 2007 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Seriously, if you dig punk rock with a grunge twist, then Reptoids are for you. And I’m not just saying that because Chris’Toid is one of my best friends.

    I urge everyone to check them out. They rock. Hard.

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