Monday, January 28, 2008

Third (or is it fourth?) wave local snarl rockers wear influences on their vintage punk tees

Even when well done, spunky powerpop is a genre that's primarily pushed off on teenagers, which gives it all a bad rap as shallow and derivative. Don't misunderstand, most of it is just that, but when properly executed, there's little that's more powerful than the us-against-the-world ethos that accessible punk can carry.

Chicago's commercial rock community has always excelled in mixing and matching the various ingredients in its talent pool, and usually the results are greater than the sum of its parts. Call it a mark of maturity or just settling into a groove, but there are some strong post-mall punk splinter groups making a statement in the city.

Chief among them is American Taxi, a gang of accessible, ready-to-wear, all-ages-friendly punkers who have risen from the embers of suburban pop punk godfathers Lucky Boys Confusion. Left to their own devices, LBC's Adam Krier and Jason Schultejann bring their vast, van-weary experience and Clash-spattered throwback reggae punk to the forefront of Taxi's sound. It's a hard-driving, hard-living, singsong style that was often only a backdrop in their previous group, but steps into the spotlight as a fresh take on teen-happy modern rock.

Saturday night at the Beat Kitchen confirmed certain suspicions, namely that Krier's formidable pop songwriting chops and impeccable influences - running the gamut from the aforementioned Clash, the Stooges, and the Buzzcocks to second-wave heroes Operation Ivy the Dead Kennedys - were finally on full display. Schultejann is one of the best rock bassists in Chicago, holding down the reggae-tinged rhythms and allowing Krier to explore the upper echelons of smart, rollicking, abrasive rocknroll. - Elizabeth Drew