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Review Tue Jul 12 2011

Review: Sundowner @ Bottom Lounge


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Photo by Katie Karpowicz

In 2007 local label Red Scare digitally released Four One Five Two, a twelve-track debut from artist Sundowner. Four One Five Two was full of acoustic tracks ranging from whimsical jaunts to self-deprecating wallows, but the most notable element of this release was the voice that accompanied the music. The man behind this album was Chris McCaughan, guitarist and co-frontman of Chicago punk favorites The Lawrence Arms.

On Saturday, more than four years later, Sundowner aka McCaughan celebrated the vinyl release of Four One Five Two with a show in the intimate upstairs bar area of the Bottom Lounge.

Despite the relaxed atmosphere of the show--a gathering of Chicago punk fans and friends--McCaughan's set was still teeming with professionalism. While the show celebrated Sundowner's debut LP, there were still plenty of cuts from his follow-up album, 2010's We Chase the Waves, and even a couple Lawrence Arms' tracks--namely "The Revisionist" and "Fireflies"--worked into McCaughan's setlist. The songs were played in rapid-fire succession, eliminating almost all between-song banter. However, this pace wasn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, when your songs are as poetic and personal as some of Sundowner's hard-hitting tracks like the painfully wry "Mouth of a Tiger" or the somber croon of "In the Flicker" there's not much else to say.

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Photo by Katie Karpowicz

About halfway through his set, after belting out the quirky minute and 36 second jam "Baseball's Sad Lexicon," McCaughan wrapped up the acoustic part of his set and--much to the audience's pleasure--plugged in an electric guitar to finish out the night with. McCaughan, who's been long regarded as the more polished voice in comparison to his Lawrence Arms co-vocalist Brendan Kelly, let his rich vocals drift out over the coarse distortion of his Les Paul, creating a hauntingly good time for reverent listeners. It was truly a treat for anyone expecting to hear the same acoustic versions of songs like "Midsummer Classic" and "What Beadie Said" that appear on Sundowner's records.

Sundowner delivered a fantastic set in both quality and quantity. The set lasted well over an hour, starting around 11pm and continuing into the new day. That duration seems even more impressive when considering only a handful of Sundowner's songs surpass the three-minute mark. The abundant setlist combined with McCaughan's flawless recreation of his solo productions made the late night trek out to West Loop more than worth it.

Vinyl copies of Four One Five Two will be available for sale on Red Scare's site on August 9.

 
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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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