Click & Dagger in Chicago: Meat Puppets @ Schuba’s 11/13

Meat Puppets

Photos by Emily Ann Garcia | Review by Tim Bauer

Winston Audio/Dynasty Electric/The Meat Puppets @ Schuba’s in Chicago 11/13

At some point in sixth grade Kurt Cobain became a godlike being to me, just as he has to many others who have just entered the double digits. However as time has gone on my love for Nirvana has been replaced by the bands that influenced them. The Meat Puppets are among the bands that I checked out so that I could know what inspired Cobain, and as a 13 year old the Meat Puppets were not enjoyable. I loved their songs that were featured on MTV Unplugged in New York, but the rest sounded boring. I had not listened to them again until recently, when I listened to Meat Puppets II and Up on the Sun, and I learned yet again never to trust opinions formed while a teenager.

Winston Audio

Winston Audio

Winston Audio

Winston Audio

The show took place at the intimate candle-lit Schubas, which holds about 160 people. By 9:00 the crowd was already forming in the bar area before doors opened, and the room was about half full by the time Winston Audio took the stage at 10:00. The band started with three rockin’ songs with no breaks in between and hit the highlight of their set with their fourth song, “Keeping it Down.” This song started with the guitarist playing a short riff off that led into a Foo Fighters sounding verse and chorus. After the second chorus, both guitarists had fun with feedback while the bassist jammed over gradually more aggressive drums. This was one of the few moments of the set that truly caught my attention and that seemed to break from their more mainstream sound.  Near the end of their set one of their guitarists commented that one of his first ten CDs purchased was by the Meat Puppets. This wasn’t a surprising comment because the band sounded like a band that should be opening for the Meat Puppets, and while they were not terribly original, they put on an enjoyable 30 minute set.

Dynasty Electric

Dynasty Electric

Dynasty Electric

Dynasty Electric

Dynasty Electric

I returned from a quick break in the action to see a girl on stage wearing a sparkly hooded robe and hearing a man nearby comment that there was a witch onstage.  While the singer’s outfit was intriguing, Dynasty Electric’s music was much more interesting. Their set started with the guitarist, Seth Misterka, playing a distorted riff over a programmed beat and then singer, Jennifer DeVeau, joined in on the theremin using not just her hands but also her head and body to play this unique instrument. This got the attention of the still partially full room. Throughout the set the duo continued to put on an entertaining show filled with giggles and smiles from the band and audience. DeVeau offered very unique dancing that may have seemed more innovative if I had not just watched Shakira’sShewolf” video before heading to the show. Their 25 minute set flew by and seemed more like a band I would hear before Santigold than the Meat Puppets, but the more dance-oriented group brought some variety to the night.

Most likely due to Dynasty Electric’s very brief set, there was a 40 minute wait until the Meat Puppets, and during this time the room slowly filled with about 140 men and 10 women. This may have been the biggest dudefest that I’ve ever experienced at a show, and it was fitting for the more aggressive sound of the Meat Puppets, but it was very different from the usually hipper, younger, and less male dominated crowd often found at Schubas. At 11:47 the Meat Puppets walked on stage, and it seemed like the crowd barely noticed until they kicked into their first song with their distinctive style of country punk music.

The Meat Puppets

Meat Puppets

Meat Puppets

Meat Puppets

Meat Puppets

Meat Puppets

They played without much pause between songs, and the only thing spoken into the microphone all night was “thankyou” after two songs. The crowd seemed enthusiastic with many air guitar players in the crowd and screams for songs throughout the set. One man though seemed to be determined to get a mosh pit going. During Lake of Fire, which closed the main set, he began trying to get a circle pit going that many in the crowd surely would have joined in their younger days, but no one seemed interested. It was interesting to witness an attempted moshpit during the extended jam that ended Lake Fire because this, like several other songs through the night, had a several minute guitar solo that at times sounded more like Phish than a band that emerged from the hardcore scene in the 80’s. After Lake of Fire, they briefly left the stage and returned with the drummer hopping like a bunny to deliver a one song encore that again featured a long guitar jam. These jams that occurred during seven of their songs were the major detractor from the otherwise enjoyable set. The songs covered by Nirvana: “Lake of Fire,” “Oh Me,” and “Plateau” along with their 1994 hit “Backwater” received the strongest reaction from the crowd, but besides these the crowd adored songs from throughout their career. The only time that the crowd seemed to lose interest was during a short tuning break that brought on many drunken shouts to get on with the show.

Meat Puppets

Before seeing the show I was worried about how good the Meat Puppets would be after nearly 30 years since their formation. It’s hard to say what the motivation is for the Meat Puppets’ continued activity. They might still enjoy playing in small clubs, or maybe Cris Kirkwood needs money to pay for his legal and medical fees after his post office scuffle in 2003. It sadly is the case with some older bands that the only apparent reason for their continued touring is money, but this did not seem to be the case for the Meat Puppets. Curt and Kris seemed to enjoy being on stage even if they had little to say to the audience, and their new drummer, Shandon Sahm, treated the crowd to funny faces throughout the night. After the show, I was satisfied with the Meat Puppets’ performance, but I’ll remember Dynasty Audio’s much more unique performance, surely the same way I would have felt if I had seen the Meat Puppets opening for someone like Lou Reed in 1985.

Meat Puppets

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~ by clickdagger on November 15, 2009.

3 Responses to “Click & Dagger in Chicago: Meat Puppets @ Schuba’s 11/13”

  1. Emily and Tim . . . good work on your behalf here. Excellent, actually.

    I was at the Fri and Sat shows. I manage the Puppets, so go figure, huh?

    Anyways, Cris is all cleared and clean. The touring is simple. The band loves to play, and has more than 2500 shows under its belt. Its heroes are George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson.
    You play gigs until the day you move on to the bigger show in the sky.

    We love Schubas, and turn down other venues, because the place is pretty much like a music den or church. The crowds are always into the music. It seems like a great neighborhood bar.

    We’d probably see a younger crowd in the room, as we do every where that uses under 21 admission rules, but Schubas tends to
    stipulate 21+ for us. That’s cool, and as most our fans know, we
    will play day time gigs in Chicago as we did last May, for free, at Permanent Records (love that place) and the Apple store on Michigan. Which was a hoot.

    Anyways, thanks for taking the time to come see us and report on the show.

    Stay with this site. It is impressive.

    Dennis Pelowski
    MP Management

  2. oh yeah, I meant to add. Dynasty Electric is amazing, and the kids in Winston, we love them. They are really just starting out, babies actually, and we hope Chicago becomes a major place of support for them. By all means, get their CDs and see how far they have come.

    It’s important for us to highlight these true independent bands who tour for next to nothing, and dont have labels doting on them.
    We helped start DIY rock way back when, and we know qualified candidates when we see them.

  3. […] https://clickdagger.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/click-dagger-in-chicago-meat-puppets-schubas-1113/ […]

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