Punk polymath and Marxist garage rock guru Ian Svenonius is a veteran of numerous cult Washington DC bands who have made the world of underground rock a brighter and brainier place.
Chain & the Gang
Star rating: * * * *
His latest outfit Chain and the Gang are slaves to lean, soulful rock’n’roll, communicating in curt, witty, soulful call-and-response bursts the cultural and socio-political truths which seem to elude our prominent public figures.
Like any good charismatic orator, Svenonius knows how to make a stylish entrance, gliding down the stairs of the venue with his vocal foil Katie Alice Greer to deliver their testifying treatise. They began with the stealth social attack of Certain Kinds Of Trash, the rhythm’n’blues rumble Nuff Said and the economical rockabilly nihilism Why Not? Who Cares Anymore, a song Svenonius claims has been censored in the Land of the Free for being too cynical. Naturally, it was greeted as the precious outpourings of the Oracle by their streetwise Scottish acolytes.
But Chain and the Gang are not just thinkers and fighters; they are also pragmatic romantics and their anthem is For Practical Purposes, I Love You. The life lessons just kept on coming.
Svenonius has the makings of a cult leader. Fortunately, he used his considerable powers of persuasion for good, not evil. The rest of the band, meanwhile, kept it tight but loose behind the pentecostal outpourings. And the best thing of all? You could dance to the lot of it. Especially the ultimate funk of Detroit Music.
As if this was not entertainment enough, there was Afropunk from duo Sacred Paws, preceded by a screening of a documentary about pop oddball and onetime Svenonius collaborator Mike Alway, plus some pithy reminiscences from Svenonius himself in conversation with Stephen Pastel.