Three bands that excel at trippy garage rock reminiscent of the 1960s played Feb. 6 in the Volcano Room, upstairs at the Bottom Lounge. The headliners, People’s Temple, have a new album, Musical Garden, out on Chicago’s consistently marvelous Hozac Records. The same label also just put out a new 7-inch by one of the other bands at this concert, Chicago’s Radar Eyes. The night also featured another outstanding Chicago band, Outer Minds. It was a solid night of great songs, though it seemed to fizzle out at the end, when some technical difficulties resulted in People’s Temple playing without drums for a couple of songs. Despite that anticlimactic ending, People’s Temple had sounded great when they were jamming out at the start of their set.
The Canadian band Metz — or METZ, if you follow the group’s preferred capitalization scheme — was back in Chicago this past Saturday night (Oct. 27) for a gig at the Empty Bottle. I happened to catch these guys a year ago, when they played in the same room, opening for Iceage. This time, they were the headliners and they had an actual record out, a self-titled debut that came out recently on the Sub Pop label.
This trio plays pulverizing punk rock — or perhaps it’s post-punk? It’s hard to tell where the boundaries are between rock’s noisier genres. Metz’s driving, loud riffs are more reminiscent of ’90s punk than the looser, garage-rock-influenced punk that’s been heard a lot lately. Saturday’s performance was tight and powerful. It’s the sort of music that might live up to the title of one Metz song, “Headache,” but it actually feels good if you give into the pain.
Saturday’s show also featured an opening set by Toronto’s Absolutely Free, which began interestingly enough with a bit of a Caribou vibe, but by the end of the set, I was getting bored and sensing more of an Animal Collective sensibility. (And sorry, I didn’t get any good photos of Absolutely Free, because it so blasted dark.) The middle set of the night was another strong performance by Chicago’s Radar Eyes, who were decked out in Halloween costumes and playing with a new, apparently temporary drummer, Nithin Kalvakota, filling in for expectant mother Shelley Zawadzki.
The album-release party for Outer Minds on Saturday at the Empty Bottle was more like a party for a whole scene of bands who are apparently pals with Outer Minds. With their electric 12-string guitar riffs, Farfisa organ, stomping beats and flower-children mix of male and female vocals, Outer Minds played melodic psychedelic rock that sounded like it was from another era. Then again, I long ago got used to the idea of previous musical eras co-existing in the present. I overheard someone in the crowd saying he felt like he’d traveled in a time machine — presumably to the 1960s, since that’s what it sounded like. Outer Minds’ self-titled debut LP is available from Southpaw Records.
The opening acts were a blockbuster billing of cool Chicago bands: Summer Girlfriends played fun Girl Group music of the sort you’d expect from their name. Radar Eyes were even fiercer than they were a couple of weeks ago at their own record-release party. And Mannequin Men played one hard-edged brand-new song amid a strong set of their best and catchiest tunes. Taken altogether, it was a great sampler of some of the exciting music happening in Chicago today.