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Concert review: Disappears at Empty Bottle, Feb. 4

Matt Pais

I cover music and movies for, with stories appearing in RedEye. Sometimes with a big smiley picture.


If you've ever met the kind of person who might identify as a fan of a band that plays, ahem, minimalist psychedelic punk, it probably won't surprise you to learn that there was a definite moment when an awkward lull settled over the crowd at last night's show at the Empty Bottle. Disappears, a Chicago band some people might describe in the above terms, had just left the stage, and the audience, unclear on whether to expect an encore, found a middle ground between leaving and cheering by choosing to stand in front of the stage and wait. A band with less poise might have quit there, but Disappears gamely took the stage for what turned out to be a blistering encore. This time, when lead guitarist Brian Case jammed his guitar into the side of a monitor and left the stage, the tone was much more clearly one of triumph.

And, see, all of this was appropriate because Disappears is not the kind of band you listen to for the songs. They're hard to distinguish from one another and not as much the point as the sound, or maybe even more specifically, the mindset. It doesn't take Case careening around the stage to make it clear that this music, with its monster guitar licks and propulsive drums, comes from a state somewhere between giddy and awestruck. Of course, it's a specific vision of giddy and awestruck as channeled through effect-heavy guitars and clipped, shouted vocals, but, for anyone who likes those things, this is a local band to get behind. Imagine if Sonic Youth made soundtracks for 1974 Dodge Chargers driving down panoramic roads, and you'll get the general idea. Fittingly, Disappears has been joined on recent live dates, including last night, by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, whose crisp, explosive drumming was a treat to watch.

Disappears, which has generated their share of buzz lately, possess a maturity and polish that usually escapes the average beach-themed blog sensation. This made their show a surprisingly upbeat experience. Instead of playing, disengaged, with their backs to the audience, as the songs on their latest album, "Guider," might lead some bands to do, Disappears played energetically, with guitarist Jonathan van Herik staring smugly into the crowd like some sort of Don-Draper-as-car-mechanic model of masculinity.

So, if the show ended, quite literally, on a triumphant note, with Case's guitar blaring onstage well after the band had left, it probably had something to do with the band's ability to take components that might have, in less capable hands, become cliché or boring - it's not always reassuring when a band says their final song will be 20 minutes long - and inject them with energy and passion. Also, the guitar attack on the monitor was pretty cool.

-- Kyle Kramer, Metromix intern



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