Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Concert Preview: Ultra Violet Petting Zoo

Tom Schraeder is, by all accounts, a busy dude. Besides being the driving force force behind the band Tom Schraeder and His Ego, he's made films,  and even hosted his own prom. But it's hard to find a better use of his time than helping to curate the Ultra Violet Petting Zoo for this, his second year in a row. Co-hosted last year by the wonderful people at Chicago Mixtape and this year by, Ultra Violet Petting Zoo is party of the Boys and Girls Club Carnival which is the main fundraising event of the year for the Boys and Girls Club in Chicago. It all goes down this Sunday, July 1st at 2501 W. Irving Park Road (which is Irving, just west of Western for those who can't count) from 2 to 10pm.

Don't kid yourselves people, between the Republican House, the largest state budget deficit in the country and a mayor more likely to send tax dollars to development corporations than public schools or social programs, our city's youth are in dire, dire need for programs like those provided by the Boys and Girls Club. I don't exaggerate when I say that it's hard to find a better way to spend a dollar than by investing it in a child's development.

So what can you do? For five dollars, less than the cost of a (good) beer (plus tip, cheapskate) you can come out, experience twelve great local bands, food, drinks and, of course, rides to ensure that those substances don't stay in your stomach for long. Considering the estimated 400% return rate on investments in the Boys and Girls Clubs, that's like giving $20 to charity yet still having $15 left for beer! There's no Hold Steady or Dinosaur Jr. to distract you so come rock some Chicago tunes and help make your city a better place. Below, I've got a little bit of what you can expect to hear on Sunday.

When it comes to musical offerings, the most exciting band of 2012's Ultra Violet Petting Zoo is arguably the same as last year's - Chicago's own White Mystery. If you haven't caught them in Chicago yet then it's your own damn fault because they play this town with the frequency of an OCD-sufferer checking the oven. Their shows are always a noisy, joyful blur of guitar, drums and curly, ginger-haired mayhem.
Going on a little earlier is Brighton MA, a band whose name belies their deep Chicago roots. Lead singer Matt Kerstein was an original member of On Warmer Music favorites The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir but he's been doing his own thing for nearly a decade now with Brighton MA. They're touring off their Billboard Sun [EP] which mixes a summer Sea and Cake vibe with a splash of dream pop that gives way to hair-on-your-chest guitars. Check out their EP as well as a FREE live album from a residency at Schubas before sweating along with them live on Sunday.
Following Brigton MA will be local hip-hop crew Natureal who I admit I'd never heard of before researching this article. Intrigued by the fact that one of them went to my high school, I gave them a play and was immediately ready to see them live. This is some sweet, soul-sampling, baby-makin', Golden-Age-style hip-hop that was just MADE to be blasted across a park on a warm summer's day, I'm already impatient for their set to start.
The front of the bill also has a few treats to offer as well. You want some novelty? You can always check out the high schoolers in Give Back play. Of course they're already being heralded as better out-of-the-gate than the Smith Westerns so maybe stick those snarky one-liners in your back pocket and actually listen. If you're looking for something a little weirder, try ZiPS, a band that mixes squelchy synths, helter-skelter drumming and dissonant noise into sound collages with titles like "Vodka" and "Psycho Beach Zombie", how can you go wrong? Starting the party will be Vortis, which sounds like a group that wanted to be a cover band but couldn't decide between Black Sabbath and Pixies and forgot to learn any covers but still have a ton of fun. 

Speaking of tons of fun, Sleepy Kitty features looped vocal melodies, bouncy pop and echoey atmospherics that hint at what would happen if a Phil Spector girl group singer woke up today, stole Merril Garbus' live set-up and had at it. The Microphone Misfitz aren't quite as sunny, sporting some grimey, dub-inflected hip-hop that just screams for a Bob Marley shirt and some dreds but has the benefit of NOT having been ruined by every trust-fund hippie and misguided frat boy you remember from college. Also getting in on the dirty fun Stoop Goodnoise definitely lives up to it's name playing filthy rock that will drag you down into the mud only to present you with a sonic treat when you bend down their new album, Crash Me, Cloud is just a download away.

From dreamy indie pop to soulful hip-hop to old-school punk and good ol'-fashioned crank-it-up rock n' roll, Ultra Violet Petting Zoo has that key ingredient to a good festival - variety. Combine that with rides, food, Chicago pride and massive ego boost you'll get from helping kids in your city and you'd be stupid NOT to go. See you there, Chicago.

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