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Review Sat Jul 28 2012

Review: Refused @ Congress, 7/26

Refused at Congress Chi by Katie Hovland GB.jpg

Refused (photos by Katie Hovland)

Wednesday night I had two dreams about Refused. In the first, they played a short listless set to a 1/10th full Congress Theater. In the other, I drove around Hollywood Hills looking for the show for virtually hours before being told it'd been cancelled. Neither scenario was anything close to my prior experience with Refused live, but I still spent much of Thursday unsure about the evening's show. Questions popped into my head. Would the band be tired on the last date of a US tour? Would it be empty?

First and foremost, the Congress' forthcoming renovation needs to include air conditioning. The heat and humidity were brutal. 4,000 bodies (so much for it being empty) didn't make it better. By the time Refused went on, it was like a sauna. Yet it really didn't seem to affect the energy in the room, at first. A surge of fans plowed toward the front, fists were pumped and lyrics screamed. Frontman Dennis Lyxzén took it all in while bouncing around the stage on adrenaline. For a hardcore punk band, even one that's legitimately seminal, Refused's music has a complexity that doesn't exactly lend itself to guitarists jumping from amplifier stacks. That's where Lyxzén picked up the slack; stacking and climbing atop stage monitors to jump at an opportune moment, mimicking Iggy Pop's iconic crowd walk, creatively abusing microphones, etc. He fed off the crowd through highlights like "Rather Be Dead" and "Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine" before the momentum dipped. Strangely, even a digression for Black Flag's "Police Story" and "Nervous Breakdown" (with opener Off!'s Keith Morris, of course) didn't really stimulate the crowd. Lyxzén then remarked that the next song was called "Refused Are Fucking Dead" ... of heatstroke.

Refused at Congress Chi by Katie Hovland_2 GB.jpg

Refused

Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come album was released in 1998. They disbanded soon afterward and have recently reunited for some shows. At a time when band reunions are met with indifference and the typical fan thinks it's all about a cash grab, Refused has made it a point to say, "This means something." As Lyxzén pointed out early Thursday (repeated almost word-for-word from when I saw them in May), their politically-charged non-conformist lyrics were meant to be cynical in 1998 and are accurate now. His pep talk at the end of the show about life not being a rehearsal and the band's gratefulness to fans that still care about them came off as genuine and well-intentioned. Sure, they're probably making more money now than they did the first time around, but they clearly still understand how to put on a performance. (You certainly can't say that for every band who reunites after a lengthy hiatus.)

To close out the night, the band stepped it up to reinvigorate the crowd. The title track from their 1998 magnum opus was one of the best-sounding songs of the set. Even with a short break, they carried that momentum into an encore that received by far the biggest cheer of the night as they began "New Noise." It's been prominent at sporting events and in television programs, and it did not disappoint. In a curious move, they did not end with their most recognizable song and instead went to the building epic "Tannhäuser / Derivè." It started a little slow, but ended with a bang that had a now shirtless Lyxzén and the rest of the band giving the crowd everything they still had. So much for them being tired.

OFF! at Congress Chi by Katie Hovland_3 GB.jpg

Off!

 

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Classical Wed Aug 06 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2014

By Transmission

Before the main classical season kicks into gear in the next month or two, take advantage of these local artists and ensembles playing throughout the city.

Read this feature »

Blogroll

  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
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Abbey Pub
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  & Shops:

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Events

Mon Sep 1 2014
African Festival of the Arts

Tue Sep 2 2014
X plays Los Angeles @ City Winery

Wed Sep 3 2014
Creepoid, My Dad, & Shahman @ Township

Wed Sep 3 2014
X plays Wild Gift @ City Winery

Wed Sep 3 2014
Now What? A Conversation w/the Creators of Alaska & JoMama Jones

Thu Sep 4 2014
Owen Pallett & Foxes in Fiction @ Metro

Thu Sep 4 2014
X plays Under the Big Black Sun @ City Winery

Fri Sep 5 2014
X plays More Fun in the New World @ City Winery

Fri Sep 5 2014
Hideout Block Party & A.V. Fest

Fri Sep 5 2014
The Hideout Block Party & Onion AV Fest

Sat Sep 6 2014
Hideout Block Party & A.V. Fest

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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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