There are two shows hitting Chicago this weekend that are unmissable for any fan of Brit rock. We’re talking two bands that at best play North America rarely, but also were both at one time completely broken up!
On Friday, it’s Chapterhouse at Lincoln Hall, then James hits the Vic on Saturday.
Let’s go with James first, since they’re the ones that had success on our side of the Atlantic. And by success, I mean that to this day drunk girls in bars go bananas and sing along every time James’ song “Laid” comes on. They were seriously one of my favorite bands back in my days as a wee lad attending jr. high and high school. I’d catch their videos on “120 Minutes” and had their first few albums on cassette!
I’ll stop dating myself now and say that after the group was defunct for over 6 years, I was one of the fans thrilled that they decided to pick up the torch and carry on in 2007. An excellent record called ‘Hey Ma’ came along in 2008, and since April they’ve delivered two mini-albums entitled ‘The Night Before’ and ‘The Morning After’ for a combined 16 new tracks, which is arguably some of their best stuff ever.
I’m including videos for my two favorite James tunes ever: “Say Something” and “Sit Down”, though the video for the most common (and in my opinion the best) version of the latter is nowhere to be found, so it’s audio only..
Chapterhouse was more of a flash in the pan act that was synonymous with the “shoegaze” movement which sprouted out of Britain in the late-80’s. It was named as such because in order to get the intense wash of fuzzy guitar sounds that identified the genre, musicians required the use of practically a floor-full of guitar effect pedals. As a result, they were constantly looking down to manipulate these pedals with their feet..hence, gazing at their shoes. Other acts that fell into this category included The Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Ride among others. More popularly, this style helped launch the sound of groups such as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr..
Somewhere around 1995, Chapterhouse dissolved and most of their music became out of print and hard to find. Thanks to some reissues, that’s been rectified and they played their first gig in 14 years last November in London, much to the delight of this fan. The kicker, though, is that they are not properly reforming. This is the only North American swing that they’re gonna do, so if you’re like me and never had a chance to see them back in the day…Friday at Lincoln Hall is our only chance.
I’m including videos for the two Chapterhouse tracks from way back when that I just couldn’t get enough of then, and they sound just as great today: “Mesmerise” and “Pearl”.
In full disclosure, I’ll be the bloke up in the balcony spinning tunes between acts..but that’s hardly the reason that I recommend checking them out.
However if you do need another reason, Chicago’s own indie/shoegaze group Airiel are excellent live, and they’re opening up the show..