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Monday, December 19, 2005

Concert Review--The Changes 

Saw indie rock Chicago band The Changes at the Mercury Lounge on Saturday Night. I had tried to see them back before I left Chicago, but was never able to make a show.

Anyway, I went with some friends (including the Goat of The Franklin Kite, another band worth seeing if you're up in Boston), and it was a very, very good show. Jonny Basofin, their drummer, was a co-worker of mine in Chicago, and I'm pleased to say that, while he was a highly competent paralegal, he's even a better drummer. He was, by consensus, the best part of the band easily the most interesting part of the show, and not just during the drum solo (well, really more a drum feature set or something) during the last song. He showed real timing chops and had an audience-friendly kinetic energy. And, as the Goat remarked, he sported a pretty solid indie-rock beard. This praise is not to denigrate the others--guitarist Dave Rothblatt clearly knows his way around his instrument, and his vocals were surprisingly strong, too. And bassist Rob Kallick, while fairly stoic, got a good workout moving up and down his fretboard.

I think the best number of the night was the one where frontman Darren Spitzer went behind the drum set and Jonny B. went over the to the glockenspiel and wailed on that for a while (I'd never seen anyone play that instrument so hard before). That was the only song where Spitzer really put some body into his voice, lending a real sense of urgency to that song. UPDATE: I've been told this song was "On a String." According to the website, it doesn't seem to be on any CD yet released.

On that point, I think I have to say that a shortcoming of the band's performance involves Spitzer. I like his vocals, but he seems to lack a stage presence. He never said a word to the audience; indeed, I don't think he even looked at the audience once during the show--his eyes were usually on the ceiling. He sort of was able to pull off a Morissey-type thing, but even a little attempt to connect with the crowd would have resulting in the audience eating out of their fucking hands--the songs and musicianship was certainly more than good enough.

Ok, enough with the criticisms, because, all in all, it was a really great show, and now I'm convinced that (a) the Changes deserve the indie-rock buzz they get as a new Chicago breakout band and (b) Jonny B. certainly made the right choice in leaving the world of corporate paralegals.

Unfortunately, because I'm just not that familiar with the individual songs, it's hard to get terribly specific because I don't have a set list nor did I take any notes. But, it was a great show, and all of us who went had a great time.

I was also very pleased that the best songs were, in general, not the ones I've been able to download off the band's website. So, at least as far as I was concerned, it was great to hear good new stuff. Hopefully they'll release those and put them up in mp3 format, too.

Oh, and they're doing a New Year's show at Schuba's in Chicago--so check that out if you're so inclined.

This post has been updated to correct for mixing up Rothblatt and Spitzer.
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