Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Metro headliners OFFICE return to the Windy City after a whirlwind
West Coast tour

by Cory Robertson

OFFICE has been making waves from coast to coast lately, with an appearance on MTV News and a West Coast tour in full swing.

"We've been driving through some of the worst weather in America -- until we got to California," says lead guitarist Tom Smith, recalling the band's trek from mid-America to the Golden State. They spent Dec. 8 at the Larimer Lounge in snow-prone Denver but soon made it to a club NME party in Los Angeles and the racy Popscene venue in San Francisco, where Smith says audience members went wild, "making out in the crowd and grinding each other." It seems those crazy Californians are just as excited as we are to witness the dancy, anthem-like pop fare of OFFICE.

But no matter how much of a blast the warmer states may be, OFFICE's home is right here in Chicago, a coastal city in its own right. The way we look at it, they've just been practicing for us as they debut their new material along the western seaboard.

When the band's most polished renditions of their latest tunes reach our ears, expect an impact. "The newer stuff is a little more raw," Smith says. "A little more rock 'n' roll -- heavy on the roll." Fans are already responding to the songs like they're old favorites, he says, with one tune in particular making an impression: the still-unreleased "Nobody Knows You." "By the second chorus, everyone's singing along already," says Smith. "It's pretty awesome that people are catching on so quickly."

All this buzz will culminate in one celebratory show this Friday, Dec. 21, when OFFICE headlines Metro's first of its three-night series, "Home for the Holidays." The concert will include performances by the 1900s, the Narrator and Mannequin Men. The mix of clever, buoyant pop from the 1900s, the Narrator's harmonic, guitar-based alt-music and Mannequin Men's gritty yet melodic rock promises a night of balanced musical bliss.

Community spirit is alive and well within the hearts of OFFICE, the members of which haven't let recent success get to their heads -- in fact, they hardly seem to have noticed it. "There hasn't been anything too drastically different," says Smith, who mentions congratulatory e-mails from friends as among the most notable results of the band's widespread publicity. Perhaps that's why OFFICE is thrilled to come home to what Smith calls "our quaint little rock scene in Chicago" -- after all, he can't hide the ironic humor in his voice as he downplays the city in which OFFICE has grown up.

OFFICE play the Metro (3730 N. Clark, 773/549-0203) Friday, Dec. 21, with the 1900s, the Narrator and Mannequin Men;