White Mystery at the Hideout

Alex White has been rocking on Chicago stages for several years, playing with outfits including Miss Alex White and the Red Orchestra. That band was never really an orchestra, of course, and its music was anything but orchestral pop. White’s always been a garage/punk rocker. Her latest band is called White Mystery, and this time it’s just two people: Alex on guitar and vocals and her brother, Francis, on drums and vocals.

White Mystery’s been banging out feedback-drenched three-chord stompers for the past year or so, playing a lot of gigs around Chicago, but I hadn’t caught them live until Saturday (March 20), when they played a CD release party at the Hideout. The guitar-and-drums format is a perfect way for the White siblings to express their rambunctious energy, and it was a treat to see these two redheads tossing around their hair as they cranked out one cool tune after another.

Alex may be the star of this project, but Francis adds a lot of character, too, and their alternating voices were one of the best things about Saturday’s show. There’s something delightfully primitive about what they’re doing — but primitive doesn’t mean unintelligent. I hear some echoes of ’50s rock on White Mystery’s self-titled debut (engineered by the great local musician Devin Davis), like something you might have heard in a roadhouse somewhere, where the musicians had taken control of the soundboard and turned everything way up. (I’m picturing this as a scene directed by David Lynch.)

The first act of the night was a Chicago group called Other Minds, which played some lively, catchy “Nuggets”-style ’60s rock, with lots of 12-string guitar riffs, Farfisa chords and tambourine. The middle act was Charlie Slick, who played electronic dance music with a retro New Wave sound and sprinkled glitter onto the audience.

My photos of White Mystery, Other Minds and Charlie Slick on flickr.

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