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Disappears w/ Weekend and Circles @ Cactus Club

Sept. 6, 2013

Sep. 9, 2013
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The mercurial Chicago outfit Disappears scored themselves a major publicity coup in 2011, shortly after the release of their memorable EP Guider, by enlisting Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley as their temporary drummer. That kind of star power (pardon the questionable EVOL pun) can work wonders for an underground band, but a musician like Shelley would only work with other artists worth his time. Disappears, with its effortless mixture of spacey krautrock, eclectic post-rock and electric punk energy, most assuredly is. Proof of that is the fact that, after Shelley left due to time conflicts a year later, Disappears is still going strong, incorporating the volumes they must have learned from their short-lived bandmate and building on the solid foundation they had laid down before he joined.

Friday’s bill unusually, especially for the Cactus Club, featured no Milwaukee bands, but began with another Chicago group, Circles, who trade in a style of indie rock that’s a little too reassuringly ’90s, but which boasts an ingratiating pop sensibility, especially by including some classic organ sounds. They probably come off better live, but songs like “Marcus Garvey” from their new Are You Watching the Masters? Because the Masters are Watching You work well in either context. Next up was Weekend, hailing from San Francisco, whose set began with some of the discordant shoegaze which has earned them a lot of buzz, but gradually slipped into a rather conventional emo sound, only with a lot of delay pedal thrown at it. Not a bad band by any means, but they could use a good editor.

The opening acts seemed to have pulled in a few paying customers themselves, but the excitement ran highest for Disappears and they definitely delivered. They began abruptly and there was little chitchat, but they appeared present and appreciative of the raucous applause that bridged the gap between songs, including plenty from their new Kranky Records release, Era, notably the epic jam “Ultra.” The band strikes a near ideal balance between propulsive motorik rhythms; jerky, yelping post-punk; and smart hooks. Moreover, traveling with their own sound guy meant the mix was damn near perfect. When the band finished up, the crowd certainly seemed satisfied as they filed out to the unexplainably appropriate strains of the title music from A Clockwork Orange. Steve Shelley may have proved a big get, but there’s more to Disappears than that.


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