Equalizer Chicago 4/24 Recap: Lasers and Fast and Shit, El Ten Eleven, The Whore Moans, Metavari

thewhoremoans

photos by Karla Svatos

Greetings from the Windy City, where folks stream KEXP like suckling puppies and darkroom bar hosts the KEXP Equalizer Chicago indie rock showcase every month.

Sorry we’ve been out of touch lately. For one thing, our event host and blogger Mike “-y Dance Panther” Turner moved away, to Seattle in fact, in October. Then on top of that loss, we just got really busy around here -- you know, partying for presidents and ousting governors and stuff. Yet through it all, Equalizer has raged on, switching from first Thursdays to final Fridays to amp up the party abilities of its guests.

We can’t imagine a better Equalizer than April’s for the return of this recap. Friday night marked an historic moment in Chicago-Seattle rock relations. Your people sent us missives known as The Whore Moans. Our people rocked, nodded thoughtfully, then saw the awesome band name and raised you one local outfit: Lasers and Fast and Shit. And the people rocked some more.

But the battle of the band-names is only half the story. Cleansing the palate and stirring the senses before the punk/hardcore bands were, respectively, Metavari and El Ten Eleven -- both experimental, instrumental bands who’ve shared a bill before. It made for a loud-quiet-loud checkerboard of a lineup; when heads weren’t banging, they were nodding with enthusiasm. And DJ Johnny Kesh allowed no dead air in the night, kicking in just the right jams at just the right on time -- like, with the last note each band played.

Metavari were the first to take the stage. The Indiana threesome’s combination of video projections, introspective chords, sampled beats and climaxing orchestrations wrapped darkroom in a dreamlike blanket. Many stood gazing at the musicians; some took advantage of the comfy booths and let their work-week cares melt away with each chord. In June, Metavari releases its debut LP, Be One Of Us And Hear No Noise. Sounds like an invitation from aliens to enter a magical planet of light and good vibes; based their show, it is.

Metavari

Metavari

Metavari

Metavari

When our video producer Jackie Sestak returned from her interview with The Whore Moans, she told me one thing: “They dedicate this show to the Baldwin brothers.” It was then that we heard the screams. The Whore Moans dished out their good their old-fashioned style of punk rock -- relentless riffs, stage antics aplenty, and a pair of vocalists who can channel Sid and Joey. The Whore Moans are currently on a coast-to-coast tour (with intros like “this song’s about drinking wine and sleeping on couches,” you can tell) in support of Hello From Radio Wasteland! , which made “Fricke’s Picks” in the Rolling Stone. They made the most of this stop in our town, with a high-energy show for a packed room.

thewhoremoans

thewhoremoans

thewhoremoans

thewhoremoans

And then came El Ten Eleven. The Los Angeles duo features one drummer and one... one-man orchestra. Kristian Dunn began the set equipped only with a bass. He established a simple hook. Then we watched in awe as he used a series of foot pedals to create and play sample after sample, until the layers -- along with Tim Fogarty’s acoustic and electric drums -- built to a whirlwind of intense, fuzz-bass-heavy electronica. And that was just the regular bass; you should see what he does with a double-neck. “Play for another hour!” yelled one fan when El Ten Eleven agreed to play an encore. “I don’t think the next band would appreciate that,” said Kristian. The moment captured a low-key humility one might not expect from a multitasking virtuoso.

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

El Ten Eleven

By the time headliners Lasers and Fast and Shit took the stage, it was well past midnight. And I gotta admit I was getting tired. But I say this only to highlight a simple fact: Lasers and Fast and Shit stops potential yawning in its tracks. Had they played on the heels of Whore Moans, this Chicago foursome’s eclectic brand of hardcore might have been too much too soon. But in their now-for-something-completely-different position after El Ten Eleven -- and in their ill-fitting vintage plaid pants -- Lasers and Fast and Shit came as a welcome punch in the face to send us off to dreamland happy. Lasers and Fast and Shit are what might happen if you distilled the very essence of the 80′s New York hardcore scene and cast it in a Judd Apatow movie. These guys combine technical precision with relentless pace and some damn funny lyrics delivered in earnest deadpan. A randomly flashing grid of naked white bulbs behind the drumset completes the sensory assault with a sort of Armageddon-chic aesthetic. Though I live in Chicago this was my first encounter with -- please let me say it one more time -- Lasers and Fast and Shit. It won’t be my last.

Lasers Fast Shit

Lasers Fast Shit

Lasers Fast Shit

Lasers Fast Shit

Lasers Fast Shit

And there our recap ends. But check back and stay tuned, because we’re making a video! Featuring band interviews and performance clips, it will appear on the blog within the next week or so.

KEXP Equalizer Chicago occurs at darkroom every final Friday of the month.

Ali Weiss lives in Chicago. She writes for cheekychicago.com and edits videos for various media companies and artists. The videos she has worked on for KEXP Equalizer Chicago can be found at Youtube.com/kexpchicagoposse.

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