Credit: Jim Newberry

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Damon Locks of the Eternals

damonlocks.com/art

Of course I know Chicago has front men (and front women) who dance “better” than Damon Locks—flashy moves, elaborate choreography, the whole nine yards. So what’s my excuse for awarding him this distinction, besides loving the Eternals? It’s the way his idiosyncratic style feels like such a perfect physical answer to the band’s even more idiosyncratic sound. Locks shimmies, swivels, and pivots, responding to the music’s engrossing beats with funky suavity and to its strange complexity with elegant restraint—he relies pretty heavily on hand movements, but they’re precise and authoritative, not wild and ecstatic. The overriding impression is of hectic activity in several competing directions simultaneously, so that the clearly explosive levels of energy and momentum in his body end up producing mostly small, tightly controlled motions. This will make sense to you if you’ve already heard the Eternals, even if you haven’t seen them. Their futuristic flea-market dub pulses with interlaced matrices of slippery, druggy rhythms, often cycling past one another disorientingly—if you try to dance to them all at once, that’s what it’s bound to look like. Maybe even better are the rare moments when all the cycles line up and the band lands on a hook with both feet. It’s a great rush to feel such a crazily byzantine system arrive at a configuration of sudden, devastating clarity, and Locks usually responds with a burst of punkish frenzy—all the more striking given that he tends to be so nattily dressed. —Philip Montoro