Thomas Function wins over Chicago’s Metro (7/10)

What’s there to do in Wrigleyville after an afternoon Cubs loss? Just one thing: redeem the night with a garage rock show at the Metro. That’s exactly what some folks did, and they were treated to some unforgivable garage rock to soothe the wounds. Opening up for Chicago’s very own Mannequin Men, Thomas Function — a garage rock staple since ’03 — eased some tension and delivered a lesson in “whatever, man.”

While the venue was sparsely populated, even leading one fan to remark, “This is the emptiest I’ve ever seen the Metro,” the party vibe in Wrigleyville, and in the Metro’s own house bar, kept the crowd feeling nice and loose. It was apparent that a lot of the fans were there solely for MM, but some friends from Huntsville, AL  decided to open their eyes and introduce them to some good ol’ flower punk.

Songs like “Conspiracy of Praise” and “Snake in the Grass” sparked the audience some, but it took “2012 Blues” and its chorus of “That’s why we’re runnin’ with our eyes closed, waitin’ for the end of the world” to ignite most of the crowd in a dancing frenzy. In parts, the keys were off beat, while at other times the vocals didn’t sit quite right in the mix. However, this is garage rock we’re talking about, folks, and without those nuances, Thomas wouldn’t be Functioning — it’s all part of the garage rock aesthetic.

It’s difficult to surpass references to the Black Lips and a handful of other flower punk bands while listening to Thomas Function, and at times I felt like the Black Lips may have reinvented themselves. However, one fairly large difference between the two is the live show. While the Black Lips kick it up to about 12 at a lot of the shows (see Black Lips Live at Criminal Records at 2:00), Thomas Function keeps it tame on stage. Kevin Richard, lead singer of Mannequin Men may have said it best when giving the crowd a tip, “Never let three bands that are better than you play your CD release show.”


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