Art Brut @ Schubas – Thurs. June 11th 2009

Eddie Argos

Ready Art Brut?

Singer Eddie Argos asked his bandmates this rhetorical question prior to nearly every song of a rapid-fire 65 minute set Thursday night at Schubas.  This was night four of a five night stand at the venue. Art Brut’s high octane live performance is an experience you simply can’t grasp by sitting at home or listening with headphones.

Kicking off the set was ‘Alcoholics Unanimous’ which like many of the band’s songs features Argos recounting the episodes of the night before, be it the drinks or him taking his clothes off.  What works so well is the call and response interplay within the songs.  Argos sings ‘I’ve been up all night’ and the band responds (He’s been up all night) ‘I’ve been making mistakes’ (loads of mistakes) ‘I’m hiding it well’ (not very well) ‘But I don’t feel great.’

To call Eddie Argos a captivating force would be shortchanging his abilities.  Altering  lyrics and ad-libbing stories within songs (including on this night discussing his visit to The Art Institute and looking out at that Frank Gehry ‘thing’ at Millennium Park)  By giving Argos five consecutive days in Chicago maybe, if we are lucky enough, he will be inspired to write a song about our fair city.

The setlist, much to the delight of the sold-out crowd, included seven standards from their debut Bang Bang Rock & Roll.  The song ‘Modern Art’ was played twice.  The first time the refrain was ‘DC Comics make me want to rock out.’  But in the reprised version, Argos acknowledged that he liked our museum and enjoyed seeing American Gothic and Nighthawks and sang the proper version ‘Modern Art makes me want to rock out.’

Often compared in delivery and demeanor to Jarvis Cocker, Argos truly is his own man.  This night he coined and encouraged the audience to do his new dance ‘The Passenger,’ promising everyone will be doing by the end of the week.  It involves moving your hands in a circular motion at your sides like a train, or as Argos put it, a more uncoordinated version of ‘The Locomotion.’

Argos is more than willing to go out and be up close and personal with his public.  Singing and jumping up and down on the floor of Schubas music room along with the crowd gave the audience the opportunity to partake in and feel a part of the action.  Sadly, the second time Argos performed within the crowd he proceeded to march all the way out the double doors leaving his microphone behind, another audience dominated.  The rest of the band left to chug out the final notes onstage.

Art Brut will be back in Chicago August 14th to play a gig at Subterranean and the Green Music Fest on the 15th.  More info here

And if you want a taste of Art Brut, the band stopped by the WGN Morning News this past Tuesday to perform, because nothing says punk rock like Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten.


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