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Feature Thu May 01 2008
Looptopia has spawned itself out of Chicago again, returning for a second time, hoping to outshine last year's inaugural event. A casualty of poor planning, non-existent promotion, and difficult weather, Looptopia was promised to be a 14-hour organized madness of celebration. Unfortunately it lost its air as venues closed early, Millennium Park was shut down, and the CTA was as reliable as it always is. The Chicago Loop Alliance created Looptopia in an effort to showcase what the Loop has become, with live music, street performances, and art using the city as its canvas. But the fizzling out of last year's event put ever the more pressure to pull up the Loop's reputation once organizers announced it would be returning. This year's reincarnation however has so far not shown promising signs of rejuvenation. The lineup of acts and music events compiles a strange mix of bands that don't precisely fit into the atmospheric goals of the evening, but do enough to keep people interested. Venues range from the downtown location of Reckless Records to Millennium Park to the Chicago Public Library, hosting a collection of quaintly underground Chicago local acts. Among the best of the bunch include some punk rock mainstays, some indie scarecrows, and one of the foundational electronic art collectives in the city. This week we're providing you with preparatory profile of some of the worthy Looptopia acts this year.
Bang! Bang! does this strange sort of thing: they play rock music. Like, actual rock music. It's loud, it's course, it's invigorating, and it's a load of fun. Called by NY Press "an explosive set of sex-charged rock and roll", the self-described gender dynamics are not as obvious as their appearance and bragging might seem, but this works out most certainly for the better. Only really noticed when the female/male vocals are interspersed with ease, the instrumentals are grinding guitars and etching bass lines as if from the original punks of Chicago. And with five studio releases under their belt, they are just about as professional and noteworthy as these originals. Their music certainly plays that way.
Their 2007 release, The Dirt That Makes You Drown knocks you over with the same force that attacks in their live set. It's a no holds barred melee of punk that's honest and damn good. What would result if the Hives grew a spine, they'll be performing in Daley Plaza from 5:00-5:30 PM. Looptopia takes pride in being weird, or so it seems from the lineup of artists. But hardcore kids can find solace amongst the ubiquitous avant garde-ism in Bang! Bang! They play in 4/4 time, they scream, they dance, and you won't see a MacBook anywhere near the set. Really, it's a beautiful thing to look forward to.
[mp3] Bang! Bang! – What We Need
May or May Not plays out the thoughtful standard of indie rock. Playing around Chicago since 2003, they have toned the sound of sour fruit and the voice of last week's hangnail. They like Star Wars and Sesame Street and want to make you smile. They've got a solid three album catalog, their most recent release, 2007's A Kaleidoscope of Egos moving to reflect the clear new purchase of a synth machine. The new electronic sound scampers around the carpet of darkening beats, exploring a world that can only be accessed through a rickety door on squeaky hinges ominously swinging off a dilapidated house in rural Wisconsin. A delicately gruesome sound, they no less leave you with a nervous anticipation merely waiting for the next moment you will be most certainly satisfied. While the new album takes them to this place most decidedly not their original kit kat bar sound, the interspersing of the different tracks takes you through a wonderful swerving audile journey.
Attend this band for a break from the mob spectacle intended of the rest of Looptopia. Check them out from 7:20 – 7:50pm in Daley Plaza. A stand around show, May or May Not will give no riot, no trip, but 40 minutes to stop and smell the roses. In the "sensory playground" of our urban jungle, it'll be like one of those boulders that are really good to sit and think on.
[mp3] May Or May Not – Self Charmed Man
On the other side of Looptopia, what is being dubbed "Club Macy's" is set up to host some of the better hip hop performances, visual arts and light show, and electronic improv. 0 + 1 = Everything suits up, (he wears a Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas-esque skull during performances) to fill Club Macy's with a space cadet electronic soundtrack created by him, a guitar, and a drum machine. While the actual performance will not be the usual effort he puts into a set, check it out if not anything than to dance to the inner workings of a proverbial swamp-thing. He'll be playing at Macy's on the 7th floor from 6-9 PM.
0 + 1 = Everything is a part of the Chicago "open-source" art collaboration, MF Chicago, that brings together like minded Chicago visual and audio artists. Also appearing at Looptopia, the show projects intense visual imagery around the room through a gross amount of electronic good. DVD players, projectors, video mixers, and a live gamer or two are manipulated for hours in a mesmerizing manner. Mixed over this are the improvisations of hip hop DJs, psychedelic electric sound, and "emotronic". Acts of MF Chicago will be playing in the Honore Room of the Palmer House Hilton.
[mp3] RSB 1000 and 0 + 1 = Everything – Consolation Prize
Perhaps not the most literal translation of what the Loop is all about, if handled correctly Looptopia can be an incredibly successful rendezvous with new, local music and bands you wish you had been hearing for years. It becomes a showcase of the softer heart of Chicago, the cultural underbelly given the chance to emerge for one night. Check out the schedules online before you head out to make up for any airy planning on the CLA's part. Bundle up if need be, grab a wristband to take advantage of the after hours events, and you'll arrive well prepared for the ultimate of rewarding diversions.
And for a bit of quick direction on the other bands performing, you may want to check out:
The Blue Ribbon Glee Club
Chicago's one and only punk rock choir.
Performing Talking Heads' More Songs About Buildings and Food.
Experimental violin improv.
Pitchy and the 44's
Includes a washtub basin.
Comedic folk songs most decidedly not for children.
About the Author:
Emily Kaiser has the obligatory Hendrix perm and the inevitable pinhole burns all down the front of her favorite satin shirt.