Nightclubbing: The 1900s, Dean & Britta play Galaxie 500, Broken Bells, and more

December 3, 2010

Winter may be setting in, but the challenges of going out in the face of the harsh weather only make for more enthusiastic crowds inside Chicago’s clubs, and there are plenty of reasons to venture forth iin the coming days, starting with the release party for the second full-length by the local group the 1900s.

With “Return of the Century,” issued early last month by Parasol, the band veerts away to some degree from the lush orchestral pop of its earlier album and EPs, the better to emphasize the exquisite harmonies and rich melodies of their folky pop songs. Local singers and songwriters Tristen and Tyler Jon Tyler get things rolling at 10 tonight at the Empty Bottle, and the cover is $10.

A lesser-known favorite of legendary producer Sam Phillips, Albert Austin “Sonny” Burgess is a god among rockabilly fans, and justifiably so. He takes the stage at the Abbey Pub tonight after opening sets by the Honeybees and Switzerland’s Mars Attacks starting at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door.

For a noise of a slightly quieter and more literary variety, former hardcore punk promoter Steve Blush will host a slideshow and reading from the revised edition of his landmark book, American Hardcore: A Tribal History, first issued in 2001. Quimby’s is, of course, one of the coolest bookstores in the world, but moshing nonetheless is discouraged. The fun starts at 7 tonight, and the event is free.

Holding forth for two nights at Lincoln Hall, starting at 10 tonight and tomorrow, Dean Wareham and his musical and marital partner Britta Phillips play the music of Wareham’s original band, Galaxie 500, which leaves me with decidedly mixed feelings. I’ve enjoyed much of what Dean & Britta have done in recent years, and Galaxie 500 was one of my favorite bands of the indie-rock ’80s; if you don’t own “Today” (1988), “On Fire” (1989), and “This Is Our Music” (1990), trust me, your life is all the poorer for it. Yet while Wareham may claim much of the credit for many of the classic tunes on those discs, the founders of slowcore always were as much about sound as songs, and it just doesn’t seem right to hear that material absent drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist/vocalist Naomi Yang, who contributed as co-writers and played a key role with all of the arrangements. (And by the way, that pair has done even better things as a duo post-Galaxie 500 than Dean & Britta have.)

In other words, I’m on the fence about going, thanks to a perhaps misplaced sense of loyalty. On the other hand, the chance to hear “Tugboat” and “King of Spain” live onstage once more is enticing. Cheval Sombre opens at 10 p.m. at Lincoln Hall, and tickets are $20. (Oh, and if you want to read about the logic of this tour, my “Sound Opinions” colleague Greg Kot talks to Wareham here.)

If you missed my two-part interview with local singer and songwriter David Singer earlier this year, it can be found here and here, and I've lost none of the enthusiasm I had for his latest, "Arrows," over the last five months. He performs at the Hideout Saturday after an opening set by Sad Brad Smith at 9 p.m. The cover is $8.

Finally, the self-titled debut by Broken Bells, the unexpected collaboration between producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton and James Mercer of the Shins, remains one of the most endearingly melodic yet gently inventive releases this year. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by the group’s South by Southwest showcase last March, though that might have been as much the fault of the venue as the band. Here’s hoping that the Vic Theatre brings out the best from these artists when they perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $30 through Jam Productions.

 

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