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Transmission
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Concert Wed Feb 06 2008

The Whigs are on a Mission

TheWhigs.jpg

The opener sets the tone. Blasting forth with fierce guitar and pounding drums, The Whigs’ “Like a Vibration” begins in mid-throttle, a surly and subversive ode to the spirit of rock’n’roll. Parker Gispert doesn’t just sing, he howls, inflecting his raspy baritone with gravel and a growl. On the other side of your speakers, that’s Julian Dorio filling beautifully, pumping out a pulsating beat. But before you even get settled, it’s over, an instant, two and a half minute alt rock classic. On Mission Control, the Whigs second album and first with ATO Records, they attempt to prove that all the hype thrown their way by Rolling Stone and co. was deserved. They almost succeed.

Clearly inspired by indie pioneers the Replacements, the Whigs manage to craft a tightly-structured record that is short, explosive and pure (very few over dubs here from producer Rob Schnapf—he of Elliott Smith and Guided by Voices fame). Not everything works. “I Never Want to Go Home” is an attempt at mournful melancholy that falls flat due to boring lyrics (“Sleep my darling, don’t you cry”) and the absence of Gispert’s lovable snarl. Similarly, “Sleep Sunshine” is a lazy and slow bit of psychedelic hogwash that is downright snooze-worthy. If these guys are ever going to be half as good as their heroes, they’re gonna need to conjure some irreverence and foster the ability to snarl and emote simultaneously.

But damnitt, when Mission Control is on it cannot be stopped. From the funkiness of “Production City” to the freak-out fuzz of “Right Hand on My Heart” to the exuberant chorus of “Already Young”, there are some great moments on this album. “Need You Need You” is a blistering jam that will take any listener back to their favorite beer-soaked college bar. And it serves a reminder that there’s no harm in balls-to-the-walls rock’n’roll. It’s as refreshing as a cheap draft on a hot night.

Joining the Whigs this Saturday at Schubas is Tulsa, a Massachusetts band that tackles a wildly different sonic approach. With a name taken from Larry Clark’s stark photos of Oklahoma youth, they craft introspective, country-tinged melodies that (with subdued drumming, acoustic strumming and vocal delays) go more for haunting than truly volcanic. The occasional crunch guitar lick on their recent I Was Submerged EP, helps provide balance and nicely obscures some heavy-handed lyricism.

The Whigs and Tulsa play at 10pm this Saturday at Schubas. The Rikters open and tickets are $12.

 
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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.

Read this feature »

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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