Noise Pop has made some great scores this year, but it’s interesting that two of the greatest had their heyday in New York in the 1970s–when, as in Chicago nowadays, the historic action was going on mostly in very small clubs. While Television offered elevation, Suicide, the duo of keyboardist Martin Rev and front man Alan Vega, specialized in friction: Rev built mesmerizing and oppressive bee-swarm hums of juvenile-delinquent minimalism while Vega chanted and howled and proclaimed and stammered in a style that drew a good deal on rockabilly. Their relationship with their audience was often purely antagonistic and was noted for its propensity to cause brawls. Now, of course, audiences know what to expect and that’s why they’re there. When I saw the duo at an electronic music festival in New York last year, their main claim to offense lay in their refusal to appear to be taking the event, or themselves, all that seriously–Rev even wore silly oversize sunglasses along with his leathers. In recent years, Vega seems to have been energized by his collaborations with the impish Finnish duo Pan Sonic (whose main brain, Mika Vainio, has been known to annoy the hell out of an electronic-arts crowd by refusing to spin anything but vintage rockabilly), collected on 1998’s Endless (Mute), and Rev has added beatboxes and samplers to his arsenal of trashy sound generators. The result is still an utterly distinctive blend of corny rock ‘n’ roll-isms and sheer aural violence. Atombombpocketknife and the 90 Day Men open. Saturday, May 12, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mel Austin.