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Review Sat Sep 20 2014

Lincoln Hall Gets Weird With Tobacco

tobacco4.jpgTobacco is weird. Luckily, it's the kind of weird that offers up one of the most entertaining and abstract musical artists today. Thomas Fec, the man behind Tobacco and head of the psychedelic Black Moth Super Rainbow, has built an irreverent lore around himself. It's a haze of b-movie shocks, fuzzy statements, and recently some beard rubbing. Take the Nickelodeon commercial incident, where Fec feigned interest about his music being used without permission. That event actually had Fec reveling in the silliness surrounding it by using Nickelodeon-esque visuals for online promos and inserting the word scrote into the vernacular of his fan base. The half serious, half joking oddities revolving around his electronic pop fused with gnarring sounds enhance the experience of Tobaxxo, as its occasionally stylized. This week, Fec along with BMSR cohort The Seven Fields of Aphelion, Maureen Boyle, put on an amazing show at Lincoln Hall.

Opening up the night of eccentricity was Oscillator Bug. I had seen the band perform previously this year introducing themselves as a completely different band, which I have come to realize is a theme of their shows. Previously they were Seizure Police performing with aptly seizure inducing visuals. Unfortunately, I didn't catch the first half of their faux band name this time around. They were the something-Express, a local band from Spokane, Washington. Oscillator Bug wears the apparently ongoing joke incredibly well as it matches their experimental synth-pop. The band is fun and at times manic with their songs. Zaid Maxwell's vocals often reached well beyond their limits, turning into near wails. "Feel Rif" has them at their most fun and rambunctious.Oscillator Bug just gets better every time I see them.

The Stargazer Lilies were up next and brought the crowd into their dreamy shoegazing. This is another band I am very familiar with their live performances, and they never disappoint. They started the set with "Don't Waste My Time" against a back drop of a summering field staring off into the sky. The sound on their debut album We Are The Dreamers exists in a wholly other realm that is made up of this ambitious ambient noise that they have captured live quite beautifully. The whole performance was a loud and spellbinding experience. John Cep's garbling guitar work is impeccable and Kim Field's heavy bass knows no ends. They both came close to drowning out Field's voice with their instrumentation at times, but it somehow her angelic tones broke through the heavy distortion.

tobacco1.jpgAfter a little set up time, with the incredibly unassuming Fec taking part, the lights dimmed and a flash began the video portion of the show. On the screen a near full segment of the "Jerry Springer Show" played out, with a heavily pixelated version of the video displayed on the lit up melty logo of TOBACCO. The clip had Springer at his most glib, outright making fun of the guest who ate sandwiches as his wife cheated on him with his best friend. The crowd at Lincoln Hall echoed the laughs on screen, playing along as if they were a part of the Springer audience. The segment came to close as a sudden change of a channel, moving over to the haunting start of the "Streaker" video welcoming the audience to Ultima II: Massage.

tobacco3.jpgI was mostly unable to discern the exact setlist of the night, partly due to the extreme deviations Tobacco made with nearly every song. There moments where I knew exactly what I was being played, only to be thrown for a loop as it transitioned into something completely different. The opening video had maybe a note or two that made me think "Streaker" really was going to open the set, but it was a rampaging "Lipstick Destroyer" that had the honor firmly in its grasp. "Eruption (Gonna Get My Hair Cut at the End of the Summer)" in particular had a resounding change. The endless barrage of fucks in the sunny and loopy lyrics rose into the middle of the song before it melted into slow and gooey finish.

tobacco2.jpgNeither one of the members of Tobacco interacted with the crowd beyond the use of the machinery in front of them and they really didn't have to. The sonic assault and insane visuals spoke for them, leading the crowd to multiple bursts of moshing. Both Fec and Maureen Boyle had a commanding presence on stage even when obscured by the constantly shifting lighting or images of men rubbing their beards against each other. The videos ran the gamut of bizarreness, with Abdullah the butcher munching on some chicken During "Face Breakout," ninjas attacking helpless people, and multiple instances of alien porn. Watching E.T. in various stages of coitous somehow matched up to lucid hallucinations brought on by Fec vocoder manipulated voice. The set including the encore ran for well over 90 minutes, which all flew by in an instant. Tobacco's sound is so entrancing and fun, I don't think any amount of time would have been enough for this amazing show. Fec and Boyle exited the stage, folding their hands and bowing to the rowdy and completely satisfied crowd.

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Gerg / September 24, 2014 9:51 AM

Great review. Fantastic show. Thing is they only played for an hour though. Too short, Tobacco. And Streaker video but no song? The ultimate tease. Ultima Tease!

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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.

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  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
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Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
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Chicago Music Guide
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Dark Jive
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