JOHN MAYALL 6/6, HOUSE OF BLUES Yeah, I could’ve sworn he was dead, too. But there’s a surprising amount of life–as aging British bluesmen understand the term–surging through his vaguely tinny-sounding new Blues for the Lost Days, enough that I’d give him good odds on a comeback. And though this may constitute damning with faint praise, he is still less tedious than his most famous discovery, Eric Clapton.
MOUNT PILOT 6/6, charleston; 6/7, EMPTY BOTTLE This nouveau hillbilly thing is starting to get on my nerves. Too many of these city slickers are wailing about hard times when it sounds to my Blue Ridge-bred ears like they’ve never even crapped in an outhouse. The much less affected Lullaby for the Working Class headline on Saturday.
SUSANNA HOFFS 6/7, DOUBLE DOOR Oh, Susanna, do you think there’s no one here who remembers the luminescent psychedelic pop of the Bangles and how you sold it down the river to go become some third-rate Prince groupie? Do you think that now that the ink has dried on your contract with Satan we will forget “Going Down to Liverpool” and all that could have been? The gods of rock ‘n’ roll are angry gods. Veruca Salt, take heed and tremble.
JANIS IAN 6/7, COLLEGE OF DuPAGE ARTS CENTER Original folkie Ian says her most recent album, 1995’s “harder edged” Revenge, “is about survival. It’s about outlasting the enemy.” Well, the enemy’s still around–the sensitive and righteous “Society’s Child” of the 60s wouldn’t have it much better today–but Ian, now an out lesbian and Advocate columnist, isn’t going anywhere either. And while musically her idea of a harder edge is awfully relative, there’s a lot to be said for her particular blend of toughness and humor.
LOZENGE 6/7, Fireside Bowl With its own version of anarchic noise to add to the mayhem already propagated by a substantial faction of the underground here, this recently relocated Houston combo seems to be settling into Chicago nicely. Its 1995 CD, Plenum (Farrago), stands unsteadily on the shifting sands between John Zorn, early Butthole Surfers, and the Sun City Girls, but I’m told that with the passage of time and the addition of violist-saxist John Robbins its set has come to lean more toward improvisation and away from “tunes”–such as they were. I’ve never heard openers Herc., but I think an “accordion and drums hip-hop duo” bears mentioning anyway.
FLAT DUO JETS 6/10, EMPTY BOTTLE It seems like a long time ago that the Flat Duo Jets, of Carrboro, North Carolina, interloped their way into the rockumentary Athens, Ga.: Inside/Out–and were by far the most exciting thing in it. Crow’s primal drumming and Dex Romweber’s fiery but self-conscious Hasil Adkins-isms have swerved in and out of fashion a lot in the decade since, but the Jets are still driving in a straight line. Their faithfully smoky and greasy rockabilly does indeed still rock, and their fans still tend to believe nothing else matters.
BO DIDDLEY 6/11, HOUSE OF BLUES Yes, essentially he has only written one song. But that song and its endless variations–and its beat’s eternal rightness–place him within that extremely select pantheon of legends who can justify a cover charge merely by showing up. It just so happens that, under the right circumstances, he can still outsweat many a young sprout–but whether the House of Blues can provide those circumstances is another question.
THOMAS JEFFERSON SLAVE APARTMENTS 6/12, METRO The reality of dismantled industry and hijacked agriculture, combined with the frustration of being stereotyped as grease monkeys and hayseeds anyway, must be what sends Ohio’s restless youth into these fits of mordant lyrics and guitar raspberries. TJSA front man Ron House, who slung the snot for Great Plains in the 80s, has lived with it for longer than most of his current Columbus cohorts, and it shows: you can hear a little Pere Ubu, a little Dead Boys, even a little Scrawl, and TJSA’s 1995 album, Bait and Switch (Onion/American), is worth the 15 bucks just for the Electric Eels cover. Not to mention House’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech–try requesting it and see what happens. Fellow Ohioans Guided by Voices headline. –Monica Kendrick
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): John Mayall photo by Matthew Welch.