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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Review Mon Jun 01 2009

Review: Fischerspooner @ Metro, 5/30

Fischerspooner now isn't exactly the same Fischerspooner as some years ago. According to Casey Spooner, the new album Entertainment was put together with co-founder Warren Fischer in a different manner than its predecessors. And without the backing of a major label anymore, it seems the group had more freedom in their approach to Entertainment's accompanying stage show, entitled Between Worlds.

Along with Casey Spooner were four dancers and two musicians twisting knobs and playing with Powerbooks to the side, though no live musicians. Now, it's no surprise that an electroclash group has a flamboyant stage performance. The audience was begging for it. Slick design drew some interesting inspiration from Kabuki. Projections behind the band often featured rehearsals. (Seeing a ragged Spooner on tape behind the perfectly-coiffed one in person was quite a sight.) Costumes ranged from plain nude body suits to an elaborate neon hat, bolero jacket and whatever this is. (I loved that, by the way.)

The programmed music was basically straight from the albums. Only a few diversions kept the audience from knowing every beat ahead of time. Hardly shocking was the rapturous applause for their 2001 breakout hit "Emerge", leading Spooner to mock the crowd, "You really want to hear this one? But it's so old. Is it ok if we skip it?" While it's understandable for a performer to not want to be defined by only one song, it was clearly what the people wanted to hear. When an artist proclaims that, despite the sets and the wardrobes and the choreography, each show is still unique, they have to project to the audience that they themselves do not become bored with the material. Undoubtedly ignited by the crowd's fervor, "Emerge" was one of the few songs where everyone on stage appeared to be excited. Other pure highlights were "Sweetness" (also from the first record) and "Never Win" for the planned encore.

All in all, though, it was rather tame for such a built-up event. There was nothing bad about it. But there was also not a whole lot that was eye-catching or very memorable. The mirror walls were used by the dancers and Spooner effectively enough. Vanessa Walters' choreography was fine and the dancers were proficient. The music matched expectations. And Spooner didn't disappoint as a frontman. But there was no moment to think, "This is the reason why I see music performed live." If a group puts on a big production and dresses up music that's already perfectly acceptable, shouldn't the performance be outstanding? Otherwise, what's the point of the hoopla?

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Joe / June 2, 2009 10:45 AM

Agree with most of your comments. But I was disappointed that Casey's ironic/sarcastic introduction to Emerge pulled the rug out from beneath a song that they could've really creatively re-invented. Instead of energy, I was struck by his apathetic posturing. But otehrwise thought the show was great.

Towards your commnet on "what's the point of the hoopla" - I think the emptiness of the hoopla acutally *IS* the point. FS's music/art seems to me to be about the gap between surface and content. In many ways their performance is a celebration of outlandish surface affectation. And to that end, the show was spot on. There may have been no revelations to be had... but you don't need to emerge from nothing. It looked good. Sounded good. Felt good too.

Uh-huh, that's right.

Ben Hoshaw / June 3, 2009 12:28 PM

If anyone could tell me the name of the first opening band. Not Ssion, i would be so grateful. I didn't like them really, but i have a friend that sees potential in everything, and wants to know their name.

James / June 3, 2009 3:25 PM

Ben, their name is Organic Arma.

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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 »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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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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