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April 06, 2006

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Comments

WmMBerger

Love your posts; thanks for this.

Chuck Jones

Chicago is not New York's retarded little brother. Chicago is the sometimes mean and lazy kid who sat next to you in fifth grade, who had time to draw really funny comics, because he never did his homework. This gets him sent to Special Ed, where they test him for learning disabilities but he turns out to be smarter than everyone, but with sloppier handwriting. He gets smacked when he does badly and dismissed when he does well. So Chicago gets left back in seventh grade. He's happier there anyway, because they let him paint.

Chicago is New York with 40 extra pounds, and with crappy newspapers.

Chicago is New York without Manhattan. It's the other 4 boroughs shoved together, pinned between a lake and a plain. Chicago is 2/3rds as fast as New York, but much much cheaper, and with thai food, and Costa Rican burritos

I also came to Chicago in late 93-early 94. In that January, it was -16° for ten days straight. Chicago had that no-wave thing happening, but having come from Washington D.C. I felt that I knew what punk was, so I wasn't interested. What was interesting in Chicago was the improv jazz thing, which Michael Colligan had a hand in. The Mars Williams/Ken Vandermark version of the NRG Ensemble, could smoke any of those no wave bands. Vandermark might have played with the Luttenbachers, but he was lending his energy to them, not the other way around.

In Chicago, there are really only 2 degrees of separation: From Weasel Walter to Fred Anderson; From Me to Mayor Daley. From Quintron to the Weather Underground. Everyone in Chicago has met Fred Lomberg-Holms.

Everyone who leaves Chicago for New York is called a Service Animal. If they come back, then they are Temporary Service Animals.

I'm actually really excited to hear these songs from Math as they were playing in an unnamed land. Somethings really to fly to shit once they get named.

Joost

Is track #6 missing from Rubber Musique?

fatty jubbo

oops! they are all there- I just mucked up the last number.

harrylime

what years did the two albums come out in?

fatty jubbo

bask- 1993
rubber musique - 1994

Sluggo

Nice remembrances from messrs Jubbo and Berger. I concur, especially where they contradict each other.

I lived in Chicago from 1988 to 2002 and played in an even more obscure postpunk noise outfit (see: http://www.dragking.org/hear.html), and had the privilege of performing at Milk of Burgundy, Lounge Ax, the Magnatroid, the Fireside Bowl, etc., and seeing some amazing bands, like Trenchmouth, Repulse Kava, Table, the Cocktails, Carnival De Carnitas, the Jaks, the Swollen Spleens, Stamen, Star Vehicle, etc., etc. And of course, the amazing community of musicians around the AACM (see: http://aacmchicago.org/history.html) See also the compilation produced by Lee: "Experience the NOW Sound of Chicago's HOT Wicker Park" which came out in February, 1995 and featured the Flying Luttenbachers and nearly everyone else mentioned above. Love to all. thanks for the memories.

Sebastian6

So, because Smashing Pumpkins and Vercua Salt were popular and wrote pop songs they are a "shitpile". Just because something is "avant-garde" does not make it better or worse than anything else.
You don't make a very good art snob. You're trying too hard.

fatty jubbo

errr...ummm...

perhaps they are in the shit-pile because they didn't write very good pop songs.

mary_m

i lived in chicago... my whole life. i can safely say i'm quite a bit older than you.
i'm assuming the title of that comp about wicker park was facetious, because by 1995 wicker park was full of little snot nosed liberal arts school grads clutching their BAs in Art in one hand and their organic soy lattes in another. too bad about the quaker going under. oh well. he ran a good store in champaign too.
at any rate, good article about silver abuse previously. you're right. no one ever saw them. as for the pumpkins and veruca salt, they did write good songs, albeit briefly.
i don't know what the scene is like now. i left chicago years ago - thankfully, i must say. while your description was once accurate, it is less like that, both in terms of the scene, and the feel of the city, at least for me. if i want to feel like i'm in the Old Hood, i'll go to detroit, which still feels like chicago used to.
anyway. excellent blogs on excellent bands. consider yourself an honorary chicagoan, not an easy feat. go have an italian beef at jonnie's.

George

I lived in Chicago for 31 years, up until 1999. Fuck the Smashing Pumpkins, fuck Wicker Park and the assholes who live there, then and now. If you want to hear a real punk band go buy a Hound Dog Taylor album.

J. Niimi

Wow. Wow. Great post. I never thought Math had been heard by anybody outside Chicago, and then only maybe a hundred people in Chicago at that. I started hanging out in Wicker Park in 1989 and lived there 1992-97. I saw Math a bunch of times, including a great show at Milk of Burgundy with the Coctails. MoB was creepy -- it was a back room of the basement, which you accessed through a gigantic heavy iron fire door with a huge rusted latch. Rob and Jodie had dusty shelves full of jars of formaldehyde with scary things floating in them and broken pianos and junk all over the place -- I don't know how somebody could live down there without going insane. I recorded a Duotron 7" for Bulb Records down in the MoB space, which was a blast. The Bulb band Couch played there one time and got into a fight onstage, and one guy (Magas I think) ran out and closed the giant door and locked the entire audience in, yelling that he wouldn't let anyone out until the other guy (Pete Larson of 25 Suaves) stopped playing. I also saw a great Anal Cunt show there, where people were jumping up and smashing the bare light bulbs on the ceiling with their heads. Jodie claimed that Rob had a briefcase rigged up with a tape recorder inside that could be controlled with secret buttons on the handle, so he could follow random people around on the street and in stores, covertly recording them. They were both pretty crafty about building things. Jodie Mechanic (real surname: McCann) has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan.

>"Like the Hairy Who, and more broadly the Chicago style of Imagism, early 90’s No-Wave wallowed in a very physical and atavistic realm, laughing at its own helplessness and pathetic pose."

I think this is a little flimsy of a comparison. The Chicago Imagists were pretty ambitious and commercially oriented; they all wanted gallery representation and rich patronage. The Chicago No-Wavers truly didn't give a fuck about anything outside the immediate scene. Yet they still managed to attract mainstream attention toward the end, in spite of themselves. Local media is pretty scene-supportive in Chicago, unlike NYC or LA.

>"Some people refer to it as Chicago No-Wave, a title that was branded upon it after the fact, which many people still resent for being genre-restricting and nostalgic."

Weasel actually came up with that name himself, and was actively trying to popularize it even before there *was* such a thing! (Or more accurately, HE was it.) I remember early FLs flyers (ca. 1991) were emblazoned with the phrase "Chicago No-Wave". I think he is a little embarrassed about it now.

I agree about the Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt -- I thought they both sucked from the very start and went downhill from there. Funny graffiti from the Phyllis' [sic] Musical Inn men's room: "Veruca Salt: Daddy, I want a record contract, NOW!" (Honestly, though, I think the SPs actually managed to write one or two decent songs. Probably by accident.)

>Trenchmouth, Repulse Kava, Table, the Cocktails, Carnival De Carnitas, the Jaks, the Swollen Spleens, Stamen,

All great bands. (it's "Coctails", btw -- Mark Greenberg once told me they didn't want the name to be taken as a penis reference.) Half of the Jaks are now in the 4AD band Celebration. My own band back then put out a split 7" with the Handsome Family, and our friends Stamen had also just released a 7", so Rennie Sparks got the idea of renting a bowling alley for a night to throw a joint record release party. That was the first ever rock show at the Fireside Bowl.

James Van Osdol (DJ on Q101, "Chicago's alternative") is writing what sounds like a pretty thorough oral history of the '90s Chicago rock scene. He's interviewed close to 200 people. I think it's going to be published in Spring of '07.

J.

fatty jubbo

thanks for the great description of MOB, J. That fits the memory I have of the place. I arrived at the tail end of the MOB days and only attended two or three shows there, but the creepy ambience of the place still remains with me. I left home for the Summer of 95 only to return to Chicago hearing tales of the last MOB show that ended in a parade down Milwaukee Ave...finalizing with a Christmas tree torching in the North/Damen/Milwaukee crotch.

For a while the space was occupied by Poop Studios that occasionally had shows (the only one I remember is the Bobby Conn, Zeek Sheck, Lake Of Dracula in 96)...and now it's some storage place for one of the yuppie botiques that now line the street.

">"Like the Hairy Who, and more broadly the Chicago style of Imagism, early 90’s No-Wave wallowed in a very physical and atavistic realm, laughing at its own helplessness and pathetic pose."

I think this is a little flimsy of a comparison. The Chicago Imagists were pretty ambitious and commercially oriented; they all wanted gallery representation and rich patronage. The Chicago No-Wavers truly didn't give a fuck about anything outside the immediate scene. Yet they still managed to attract mainstream attention toward the end, in spite of themselves. Local media is pretty scene-supportive in Chicago, unlike NYC or LA."

Sure, maybe the Imagists were aiming for mainstream artworld acceptance- but that is entirely beside the point.

>"Some people refer to it as Chicago No-Wave, a title that was branded upon it after the fact, which many people still resent for being genre-restricting and nostalgic."

Weasel actually came up with that name himself, and was actively trying to popularize it even before there *was* such a thing! (Or more accurately, HE was it.) I remember early FLs flyers (ca. 1991) were emblazoned with the phrase "Chicago No-Wave". I think he is a little embarrassed about it now.

yea- I remember all the hullabaloo. I think Weasel had a very interesting approach to the term and I think it applied to what was going on in the scene at the time. I understand why people resent the term- but I always felt Weasel's thinking was more about a mind-set, approach and general aesthetic rather than the one dimensional disonant guitar-sound shit pile of pop rock bands that call themselves No-Wave these days. I can't speak for Weasel- but I wouldn't say he is embarrassed by it...but rather by judging statements he has made in the past couple years he considers it dead and irrelevent from over-raping of the term.

the retarded "Now-Wave" term is something that should boil up major embarrasment for all involved...although I think Skin Graft only used the term.

thanks for responding by the way, your Chicago Reader writing is great.

J. Niimi

Thanks! Do you live in Chicago? The Reader's website is so poorly designed I can't imagine anyone outside the city ever reading it.

So when's Part 4 coming out? Taking suggestions for possible candidates...? :D

J.

fatty jubbo

yes- I live in chicago....semi-begrudgingly since 94 (depending what mood I'm in). The Reader website should take a cue from the web-inspired design of the paper (although I'm a fan of the previous layout).

I'll get to more when I have the time. Suggestions- sure! I have some Zeek Sheck stuff and Monitor Radio stuff waiting to go. Would you happen to have any Mother Country Death Rattle? videos?! I'm putting off Flying Luttenbachers because at this point it's a massive undertaking.

J.

Don't have any MCDR stuff. A posting on the Devil Bell Hippies or Mustache would be fun! (Though I'd kinda put both bands in the second- or third-tier category, along with Zeek Sheck or Monitor Radio...sorry.) How about Condeucent (Bobby Conn's first band)?

Dunno if the FLs qualify: Weasel would probably be more than happy to hand-deliver any releases to interested parties, regardless of geography. He used to be the Internet for awhile.

Good observation about the print Reader's current design.

J.

P.S. Do you think we might know one another? (E-mail me off-list...?)

CW

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for posting the Math tunes. I got their tape when I saw them in Kansas City around 93-94. I lost it and never imagined I would hear it again.
Thanks!!!,

-CW

d

thanks so much for posting all this. I used to frequent MoB & see all the bands you mentioned. I moved away around 94/95-ish I think, when The Alley moved into MoB (such an ironic tragedy), visited a few times here and there and then moved back last year. Anyhow it was such a great time in my life and I had no idea how lucky I was to have been there to see such creative music being made - you never know till all of a sudden it's not there anymore, right? I lost my last cassette of Math a few years back and had been missing it. Wish they'd reissue some of it. I saw Quintron a million times since, and the live show are fantastic, but the records are nothing like Math - pure genius. Thanks again.

THe Plague Doctor

The Czar Bar was an important and overlooked place. I remember seeing great performances by Trenchmouth, The Moonmen and Codeucent around '92 - '93. Many forgotten bands such as Slope, Anthropod Vector, Tard, The Jacks and Mothercountry Deathrattle did blistering shows there in '93 - '94.
I recall that Mothercountry Deathrattle later dropped all the rock instruments and morphed into the 'Hog Butcher Caco Walkers' which included a lot of brass and strange homemade electronic instruments. They did a memorable show at the Odum in 1998 with Zeke Sheck.

JS

Hi--great to see these posted!

Two things:

1) Rubber Musique came out later than 1994. Almost positively 1996, but possibly 1995.
2) Niimi recorded either a Duotron LP for Bulb or he recorded half of a Duotron split 7" for Coat-Tail. But he didn't record a Duotron 7" for Bulb; there is none.

Thanks--fun read!

JS

Tim Ouillette

Could anyone hook me up with Math's The Delicate Ape? I have been looking for this thing for about 8 years and have not been able to find it. I even went as far as to contact Quintron. He said he didn't have it. Any suggestions.
Thanks
Tim

chicago isnt new york. nothing came out of chicago.

jef

Thank you so much for preserving this songs. I am a huge Math + Quintron fan but Bask got lost in my transition to digital music. I only wish i could have seen them live. Thanks again.

Laine

This is great; thanks! If you're ever interested in putting up other bands, I'd be happy to supply what I can. I have the entirety of the SGs catalog, all Bobby Conn (including two Condeucent 45s and Who's the Paul?), all U.S. Maple (including multitude of side projects and pre-USM bands--Shorty, Mercury Players, etc.), etc., etc. This is great that there is a forum where this music--most of which is out of print, at least the singles--can be heard.

DJ DR DRU

BASK was recorded live in an old grain mill, and is encoded for QUAD playback! Modern home theater systems will probably upmix from stereo to 5.1 surround.

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