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Wednesday, December 13

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Review Mon Mar 05 2007

Show Review: The Narrator @ The Hideout, Sat. March 3rd

Growing pains don't just refer to the shenanigans of Kirk Cameron and Alan Thicke in the mid-'80s or about that time you woke up at age 9 with terrible affliction in your legs. Though both of these may be relevant, more likely the term describes the struggles to move through life events that's part and parcel of this oh so modern age. Chicago's very own The Narrator are weathering through some growing pains of their own: guitarist & vocalist Jesse Woghin, co-founder of Flameshovel Records, now plays bass for Chin Up Chin Up as well as his Narrator duties, and current drummer Kevin Vlack is brand new, filling in for former drummer Nate Heneghan who left the band last year. Saturday night's show at The Hideout also marked just the second time the band had performed live in almost six months so I was interested to see how these growing pains would transfer to the stage.

I expected to hear songs off of forthcoming LP All That to the Wall and I wasn't disappointed. Kudos to the band for opening with ballsy cover "All the Tired Horses," a bold choice in that it A) originates on Dylan's loathsome Self-Portrait, B) begins with a capella vocals, and C) makes the intimate environs of the Hideout seem even more formidable. Unfortunately, the crowd didn't seem ready for the relaxed, jam-y feel of "All the Tired Horses" and this no doubt threw the band off a bit as follow-up song "Son of the Son of the Kiss of Death," the excellent opener off of All That to the Wall, suffered. Tech difficulties from an old synth and a botched intro by the guitarists caused an awkward restart, and there was a definite moment of frustration onstage. However, what separates good bands from great ones is the ability to recover from flubs and mistakes without falling apart, and The Narrator recovered nicely and, luckily for the audience, in good rockin' form. Like friends Oxford Collapse, The Narrator know how to translate proto-emo hooks and party punk dynamics from record sequencing to enthralling stage performance. The anthemic chorus of Semitic rocker "SurfJew" was a highlight, as well as the layered harmonies of "Start Parking." Harnessing energy is what The Narrator are best at - whenever Woghin was hammering on the high-end of the fretboard, or guitarist Sam Axelrod and bassist James Barron were pounding out rhythmic accompaniments or drummer Vlack was teaching the crash cymbal a lesson, the energy was definitely explosive. "Breaking the Turtle" was the culmination of this progression - waves of guitar hooks intertwining with driving disco to rimshot kitwork, all smothered by straining three-part vocal shout outs. Whatever growing pains were evidenced at the beginning of the set were certainly exorcised by the close and, with SXSW stage time coming up at the end of the month, there's no doubt the buzz will only get bigger for The Narrator.

Look for All That To the Wall out on Flameshovel Records on May 15th. Get a taste here.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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