Friday, September 27, 2013

Show review: Massive Ego at Empty Bottle, 9/25

By Gene Wagendorf III

Massive Ego| Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III
Call them glam, or psych, or punk, or mash those words together to form some kitschy-cool subgenere, but what Massive Ego really are is a rock band. A fucking great rock band. The trio, who've been cutting their teeth in Chicago's basements and releasing a string of excellent tapes on Maximum Pelt, turned the Empty Bottle into a big, sweaty bacchanalia Wednesday night. The highs were high, there weren't any lows, and by the end of the night I felt like Rob Gretton seeing Joy Division for the first time in the film Control: "I hold my hands up. I am a believer in Joy Division. Fuckin' hallelujah!" Only in this case it was Massive Ego who had me finding religion.

To clarify, Wednesday wasn't my first Massive Ego show. Far from it. I've been seeing Dan Rico play in bands for about a decade, and I've been watching he and Majik Aeon in various groups for at least half that time. That said, something about Wednesday night's show felt different, sounded different. Over the course of the last year Massive Ego has grown impossible tight: evolving as songwriters and as a unit, and rocking harder and harder.

Massive Ego| Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III
The show served as both a kick off to their fall tour and a release show for their latest Maximum Pelt tape, D0N'T. The boys opened up with a tune from that record- one that was typical of what their fans have come to expect. Majik Aeon hammered out huge, T. Rex-esque guitar riffs before focusing them into a fiercely Stooges assault. Rico worked up his own frenzy on the bass, while drummer Fumo Stromboli balanced the assault with a mix of sinking ship desperation and steady gunfire. Rather than winding the song to a neat end, Ego simply upped the pace. Aeon worked himself into an Iggy Pop-style orgasm while pushing the hooks past punk into a total noise freakout. Next up was "N0 BR4IN3R," from last year's NVMND. On tape the track has a subdued, dummy-punk chug, but live it was faster, ballsier and snottier. Stromboli's splashy tantrum paved a boulevard for the strings to roll on, fostering a sort of Cali-tinged jam session.

Massive Ego| Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III
Ego showed off some versatility on another new track, this one featuring a spacey, melodic intro reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins more LSD-soaked elegance. That exploration was both satisfying and brief, eventually exploding into a big glam asskicker that crescendoed like glitter bombs dropped across the rolling hills of heaven. Rico's bass pushed through clouds of Aeon's trippy guitar work before settling back into a delicate twinkle. Another veteran move found the boys letting the noise linger while quickly swapping instruments, eventually stomping their way through a new track that sounded as glitzy as it did muddy. One more swap left Rico on guitar, Aeon behind the kit and Stromboli handling the bass. "0 (MY S0UL)" had Rico cat-calling and crying into the mic between Prince-influenced fits of shredding, backed by a smartly restrained rhythm section. The band closed out with another NVMND track, the hypnotically raunchy "SW33T SW33T." Everything Massive Ego does right was smashed into the song- a great hook, gaudy solos and rabid energy delivered with crude exuberance. The group looked like they were having the time of their lives onstage, a joy that carried over into the crowd. The final applause was an appropriately huge one, and left little doubt that I wasn't the only person left stunned and giddy. Massive Ego made a huge statement Wednesday night; throwing a hell of a party and announcing themselves as one of Chicago's truly elite live acts.

If you enjoyed this, like us on Facebook and follow Gene on Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment