These two bands sound nothing alike, but they both work with pop music’s new postmodern ethos to achieve the same kind of yucks and unexpected, off-center pleasures. Camper Van Beethoven is a folkish garage rock band that has released (at least) three LPs and one EP since it first showed up in late 1985. Since then, they’ve lost their taste for pan-ethnic instrumentals and gained a taste for neo-psychedelia, but they continue to write catchy, uncynical folk-based ditties that gibe all sorts of bland characters and insitutions in all sorts of ways–skinheads and potheads get it, and so do Club Med and common sense. The only attitude they seem to champion is one of bemused ambivalence. Fishbone are six black LA teenagers who combine hard-edged ska with goofy, Spike Jones sound effects for a pretty unique, every-which-way-but-loose music. It congenially reconstructs the feel of a culture gone schizoid, and so it lends itself well to mocking the warring postures of everyone from superpowers (“Party at Ground Zero”) to radio stations (“? (Modern Industry)”). Both these bands half-assume a variety of roles to crudely and quickly show up what lies underneath them; what better way to spend Halloween? Saturday, 7:30 PM (Camper Van Beethoven) and midnight (Fishbone), Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steve Jennings.