So it was a noontime text, I think, that confirmed to me that yes, I was still a ways away from mental balance after a free night of sweet noise at the Empty Bottle.
The text, from one of my roommates: “Hey, do you guys know what happened to the big container of cooked broccoli that was in the fridge?”
My reply: “Oh shoot. Is the one I made Sunday in there anywhere? It’s got goat cheese on it. Feel free to take, I mixed up.”
Her: “Yep, that one’s in there. I’ll leave it for you, I don’t want it.”
You see, in lieu of watching the big game on Super Bowl Sunday, a friend and I celebrated America’s biggest fake holiday by cooking a delicious feast of pistachio crusted salmon and green sides and then watching a few Downton Abbeys. One of those sides, as you might guess, was broccoli.
But it wasn’t just whitebread broccoli like the stuff I unintentionally stole from the refrigerator. It was broccoli mixed with Brussels sprouts, and then topped with goat cheese and maybe another thing. So, a far cry from simple greens in a tub.
And then after my lunch break, I attempted to staple some papers together, nixed being mindful of how firmly planted the base of the stapler was to the office table and managed to knock everything in front of me — stapler and all — to the ground with a weighty thud.
The staple went in clean, though, so that felt like a win.
Despite my forgetfulness — it’s matter-of-course, really — I’d formally like to blame my Tuesday troubles on an apparent failure to fully recover from the wall of sound that shot through and around me the evening before.
Thanks to the Empty Bottle and its Free Mondays, we Chicagoans got to see three bright young acts for the price of a valid I.D. Totally complementary. And I’d say the city responded, too: Per the Bottle’s Twitter handle, Free Monday sold out. And that’s always nice to see.
Least “conventional” of the bands — but perhaps, perhaps, the most explosive — was opener Outer Minds. They’ve got wonderful bump up and go ’60s ‘tude, and base their unique approach to style on hurried keys and shared vocal duty among three bandmates — usually all at once. And then toss in the drums and the pair of guitars and the firm tambourine thumps, and these guys get real silly real fast.
On a dime, really, they’d go from zero to WAHAA! and then back and around again. It was a delight.
What brought me out for Free Monday, though, were the pair of bands to follow. Both had me curious, with the one — Radar Eyes — celebrating a full-length record release. In fact, I reviewed the new disc over the weekend.
On hand releasing new material of their own — a single — Bare Mutants put on one of the more subtlely eclectic sets I’ve seen in awhile. The five of ’em sit, save the bassist, and surround themselves with personal incandescent light bulbs that glow red. And then filling in some atmosphere — that is, in addition to their moody, amble rock — is the gauzy fog of a pair of machines hidden somewhere near the base of the drum kit.
It all sounds like gimmick, I know. But I swear it’s fine. I don’t know that I get the bulbs — except that they look cool in fog — but their staging has a sort of sense to it once Bare Mutants gets things going.
Seated tambourine and guitar are about as rare as solid journalism in RedEye, but again, I liked it. For me, a sitting front man and Jeanine was an intentional way to say, gently: “Hey there. Hey. Just listen. Chill.” I encourage you to watch this video from last night, actually.
Finally, Radar Eyes just pounded foot to pavement for 40 or so minutes. I believe they played nine tunes — encore included — so it was brief, surely. But after such fill from Outer Minds and Bare Mutants already, it would’ve been cheap to feel slighted.
Radar Eyes are speedy devils on record, but they seemed to turn it even faster on the stage. They blazed through “Miracle” and — their hit maker, I think — “Accident.” Their encore, “Shakes,” was especially peachy. Its guitar onslaught finale extended on and on, and Anthony assumed a splash zone at one point by opening a guy’s beer and spraying it around the place. He attempted the same on my end of the stage, but we’d all finished ours.
Layered over all that music, of course, was the sense that everyone who went out for a show Monday planned their night around Outer Minds, Bare Mutants and Radar Eyes. Inside the Empty Bottle, there was a strong sense of comradery all night, and some boys from Apteka and all of White Mystery were spotted by me. I’m sure there were more.
Just musicians supporting musicians on yet another Free Monday.
- “Miracle” by Radar Eyes | Video
- “Without You” by Bare Mutants | Video
- “We Are All Stone” by Outer Minds | Video
- Radar Eyes just released an album! | Hozac Records Store
- Free mp3: “Accident” by Radar Eyes | Download
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