These Are Powers, Chain & the Gang, Hive Dwellers, Mahjongg | Co-Prosperity Sphere | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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These Are Powers, Chain & the Gang, Hive Dwellers, Mahjongg 

When: Sat., May 2, 9 p.m. 2009
Price: $10
The arc of Ian Svenonius’s musical evolution over the past 20 years is punctuated by episodes of abrupt aesthetic transformation—like abandoning the situationist punk of the Nation of Ulysses for the Prince-meets-the-JB’s soul revue of the Make-Up, then tossing that aside to make a strange, greasy blend of psych rock and funk with the Scene Creamers and Weird War. In fact, this sort of aesthetic nimbleness is one of Svenonius’s hallmarks, alongside his preoccupation with revolutionary politics and his ability to craft compelling vocal parts out of just a couple notes at a time. His latest project, Chain & the Gang, kicks out ramshackle, lo-fi garage rock shot through with streaks of soul and jazz, sounding like the MC5 at a backyard hootenanny, and their new album, Down With Liberty . . . Up With Chains! (K Records), is worth the purchase price just for the haunting, paranoid ballad “Deathbed Confession.” The record is fleshed out with the help of a posse of Pacific Northwest indie rockers, including Calvin Johnson (whose own new project, the Hive Dwellers, is also on the bill) and Karl Blau; he and Johnson are sharing a touring band that includes members of His Name Is Alive, Saturday Looks Good to Me, and Dub Narcotic Sound System. Mahjongg opens this show, a closing party for the Version>09 festival, and These Are Powers plays a late-night set after the headliners. —Miles Raymer



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