Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-11-13
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



BENT NIGHTS Mutts, Archie Powell, Hemmingbirds and Jesse W. Johnson
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

I should have learned from the recent past to pay attention to omens.

Not one month after reviewing a show jam-packed with surprises and unexpected dangers ( Foxing, Tiny Moving Part, etc. in the Dec. 28 edition of Bent Nights ), I found myself at an equally loaded show with three of Chicago's most beloved bands. When Mutts frontman Mike Maimone casually said to me just before the show, "I've been looking forward to this," I should have been prepared for anything—and, like a dummy, I wasn't.

Not only was this Dec. 29 gig at Lincoln Hall celebrating the release of Mutt's new single "Neighbor,"—and, for me, a chance to see the much-loved Archie Powell and the Exports—but this was also the farewell gig for Hemmingbirds, one of the most respected and admired alternative bands in Chicago. Since everyone on the bill had worked together at one time or another, I was expecting a homey-love vibe like The Waltons' Christmas Reunion, but that certainly is not what I got.

The show got off to a quiet start, with Jesse W. Johnson performing an acoustic solo set that gave his pop songs a darker shading and a confessional, more personal edge. Where "I Fucked Up" originally sounded like a lightly humorous take on naughty behavior, this reading came cloaked in regret and misery. "Expecting to Fall" retained its measured pace with this delicate handling and it gained texture from the gravity that Johnson gave it.

For all of Johnson's skill and nuance, the night and vibe got booted into outer space once Archie Powell and the Exports got onstage and proved that the act's reputation was not hot air. What went down on that stage was a breathless torrent of snot rock with Powell's tongue firmly in cheek, and The Exports playing with the fury and economy of Elvis Costello's Attractions. There was a certain snootiness to his attack that was downright infectious, whether Powell was singing through an amplified phone receiver or frantically wiggling his ass. Granted, I had no idea how snotty it all was until I found out that the set list was made up of new unrecorded material. Of course, I should have expected as much since Powell opened his last full-length, 2014's Back in Black, with "Everything's Fucked Up" and closed it with "Everything's Cool." Evidently, being a smart-ass has its charms.

If Powell played a ( mean but ) fun joke on his audience by toying with the unexpected, Mutts happily delivered what could be expected and then some. As a send up of an old time honky-tonk band with a frat house sloppiness and a straight up punk attitude, the trio of Mike Maimone ( vocals/keyboards ), Bob Buckstaff ( bass ), and Chris Pangnani ( drums ) has created an aura that is entirely affable, blunt, and charming in a roustabout way. Where it seemed that Maimone came across as an out, buff Tom Waits without the brutal wear and tear, Mutts has evolved into a cohesive blunt instrument around him.

Opening with "Everyone Is Everyone"—with its in-your-face chorus ( "Let's shut the fuck up and go for yourself!!!" )—Mutts challenged Powell for the crown of class cut-up. "Shake It Up" and "If It's Hot" came surprisingly early and hard ( and, yes, Maimone ranted the song while atop his electric piano and no he did not hurl himself into the audience ), but there were more surprises. "Terranant" got a grim, goth treatment that planted the song in three feet of sludge while the new "Neighbor" with an assist from vocalist Jennifer Hall was served with a roof rattling gospel intensity despite songs coiled structure. Then came the finish, a melee with Hall, Powell and some of his Exports and various friends crowding the stage for a sloppy rip through "Let's Go."

After all the thunder and frivolity, Hemmingbird's set of sublime art-rock felt like a welcome refrigerated breeze. Kicking the set off with "Half A Second" and "Mess of Things," vocalist Yoo Soo Kim, bassist Timothy Cap and drummer Zach Benkowski actually managed to seduce the rowdy crowd with their low-key, shimmering, elegant art rock. The set list came with obvious choices and obscure deep album cuts ( "Line of Bones," "Stay," "Toxic House," "Falling through the Aether," "Slippery Slope" ) and one gooey sweet moment ( a still sincere "Through the Night" that Kim wrote for his wife while they were dating ), but despite the onstage cameos ( a positively humbled Maimone, Johnson, and members of Mutts and The Exports ) the set was slightly melancholic and gently sweet. It was a great send-off, if not a fitting end to 2016.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Lil Nas X among Smithsonian Magazine 2019 American Ingenuity Awards honorees 2019-11-20 - Washington, D.C. — Nov. 19, 2019 — Smithsonian magazine, the flagship publication of the Smithsonian Institution, today announced the honorees of the eighth ...

Gay News

Chicago Gay Men's Chorus to present HOLIDISCO 2019-11-20 - CHICAGO, October 29, 2019 — Chicago Gay Men's Chorus presents HOLIDISCO, running December 6-8, 2019 at three venues in the Chicagoland area. Experience ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Megan Rapinoe, 'High School Musical,' Roxane Gay, 'Paris Is Burning' 2019-11-18 - Soccer star Megan Rapinoe accepted Glamour's Woman of the Year award—another addition to her hardware collection that includes the Golden Ball award as ...

Gay News

Brewery has Nov. 22 event with Chicago House 2019-11-17 - Revolution Brewing is again teaming with Chicago House and Social Service Agency to raise funds for HIV/AIDS-affected, disenfranchised individuals as well as the ...

Gay News

Currie, Darling in Chicago on Nov. 25 2019-11-16 - Los Angeles-based female rock icons Cherie Currie and Brie Darling are embarking on their first-ever tour together in support of their recently released ...

Gay News

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chorus present Merry, Merry Chicago! concerts 2019-11-14 - CHICAGO—Symphony Center celebrates the 2019 holiday season with programming that offers a wide range of musical experiences perfect for audiences of all ages ...

Gay News

The Joffrey Ballet's reimagined classic The Nutcracker begins Nov. 30 2019-11-14 - CHICAGO ( NOVEMBER 12, 2019 )— The Joffrey Ballet's critically-acclaimed reimagined classic, The Nutcracker, by Tony Award®-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, returns to open ...

Gay News

Artemis Singers part of LGBTQIA+ improv show 2019-11-14 - In a return engagement, members of Artemis Singers, Chicago's lesbian feminist chorus, will perform as part of the Friday, Dec. 6, Dreamboat LGBTQIA+ ...

Gay News

Caucus launches The Prosperity Project 2019-11-13 - Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus has launched The Prosperity Project—a three-year campaign to eliminate HIV among Black gay, bisexual and same-gender-loving men in ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Out singer, 'Hamilton,' 'Sense8,' Dolly Parton, Shangela 2019-11-12 - LGBT singer Michael Longoria released a music video for "Kiss Me ( Like They Do In The Movies )," an original song written ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.