Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Shred Aquarium, Stuart Bogie, and @ The Empty Bottle

On a frigid Tuesday night in Chicago, why not go check out some avant-garde jazz/funk/rawk music? The Empty Bottle pretty much lived up to its moniker with only a smattering of folks out to check out the primarily local acts. led off with a set wholly comprised of experimental, improvisational jazz. Most notable was drummer Jerome Bryerton pulling out various objects to clang and bang on his kit which featured eight cymbals to begin with. He pulled out a bow and made feedback the old fashioned way, and scratched drumsticks and metal objects on his skins. Meanwhile, bassist Andrew Scott-Young and saxophonist Paul Hartsaw delivered crazy trills, riffs and sounds. It was all very loose, but that was the point. These were not pop songs. All members were able to show off their chops, but the songs obviously lacked a certain cohesion. One other note - a woman at the bar was loudly discussing Wilford Brimley, and the bartender politely and discreetly asked her to keep her voice down while the band was playing. Thought that was pretty cool.

Up next was Stuart Bogie, reed-player extraordinaire and member of Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. Though Bogie lives in New York, his band was comprised of locals (he grew up in the area), and sounded incredibly tight for having rehearsed only one time. Musicianship reigned with solos on trombone, violin, and alto and tenor sax. The rhythm section kept a good groove going, and on guitar, a funky chirping reminded one of James Brown. The fun set ended far too early, but did manage to get a number of folks up and dancing.
Drummer Theo referred to Shred Aquarium as a side project, noting that it was one of about six things they're working on. With some loops and edgy guitar work, it was only so compelling, but the songs were mostly brief and had some interesting passages.
Of greater note is that either Andrew Bird or someone that looks remarkably like him was in attendance. After more drinks, my crew became more convinced that it was in fact him. I should note that I have become more and more obsessed with him ever since his show at the Riv last April. His music continues to grow on me, getting better with each listen. If, indeed, it was Andrew Bird, he and I were in the bathroom at the same time. I probably gave him a very odd look, despite realizing that the environs were far from ideal to be starstruck. When we left, we passed right by Bird, or his doppelganger, and I gave him another weird look. Had this been a year and a half ago, I probably would have said hello. But now that my fanaticism has grown to obsessive proportions, I had no idea what to say to the man. Does that even make any sense?

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