Miss Alex White and the Red Orchestra, Deccas & Smith Westerns at Schuba's

Miss Alex White and the Red Orchestra Live 2007 photo by <a href=
Miss Alex White and the Red Orchestra Live 2007 photo by Canderson
posted Thursday Apr 3rd, 2008

Saturday night in Chicago, just as the Spring warmth wafts over the thawing landscape around Lake Michigan, it's time to venture over to the Schiltz-emblazoned venue called Schuba's for an evening of thunderous rock'n roll heaven. Although the overall vibe at Schuba's has been somewhat listless in the past years, it's still the original site of Gaspar's, one of Chicago's very first punk-friendly venues back in the 1970s, and still luckily offers Schiltz as it was meant to be served, in the can!

Now, on to the bands. Miss Alex White and the Red Orchestra just don't play shows in her hometown of Chicago very often, and that's mainly due to the fact that her rhythm section resides in Detroit. Since the Red Orchestra's hometown shows are sadly few and far between, it's that anticipation that gets the homebodies to come out to see her and the band, and they come in droves. With their second full-length LP 'Space and Time,' released last fall on In The Red Records, Alex White and company have kept a somewhat low profile compared to the rest of the Chicago bands in which she's performed. And with the debut performance of her side project Headspacer in December, and her new two-piece project with her brother Francis called White Mystery set to be unleashed soon, it's no secret that Alex has loads of wirey energy, menacing moxie, and miles of creativity to spare. That said, their performances are nothing short of breathtaking, and powerfully combine the often fumbled and rarely accomplished mashup of Velvet Underground rhythms cross-hashed with Jesus and Mary Chain squeal appeal, with impeccably great results. Pick up all their records if you seriously enjoy rock'n roll music that raises the hairs on your neck and pounds on your chest with unbridled exhilaration.

The Deccas have been lingering around the outskirts of the Chicago show circuit for a few months now, and employing members of The Sonnets and the Civilized Age in their ranks is generally a good sign. The girl group sound has been making a raging comeback ever since the Detroit Cobras started knocking out obscure Ronettes tracks several years ago, and it's gotten stronger with the more recent resurfacing of Mary Weiss and her collaboration with the Reigning Sound, and the massive impact of Rhino Records' 'One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds' boxed set. The Deccas lend a softer touch to the genre and with a solid three-girl vocal sound seducing the gentlemen just like Mary Wells and the Supremes did so feverishly back in the early 60s, it's bound to get sweaty.

If the night couldn't get any better, local high school knockouts, the Smith Westerns open up the show with their randy and voracious slap-take on modern punk, ran through a teenage meat grinder, and slathered with crazy sauce. If you still haven't seen the Smith Westerns yet, it's really about time, since they are all graduating later this Spring and will soon take off to out-of-state colleges. Sadly, that makes it seem like their live shows are likely numbered. With a warm and spastic fuzz freakout formula that gleans the ugliest 60s wallop alongside a filthy and futuristic take on the Red Cross (Redd Kross) 'Born Innocent' aesthetic, it's no secret that these guys are having way more fun than anyone else snapping towels and administering wedgies in the high school locker rooms all over Cook County. With their anxiously awaited debut 7" EP coming out next month on HoZac Records, and hopefully a few out of town gigs, get ready to come completely unglued and involuntarily hogtied by their brazen and irreverent punk spewage, culminating in their epic homemade film 'The Punk Agenda.' Leave home early, and you really won't regret it.

check out the Smith Westerns' trailer for their film, 'The Punk Agenda' in theaters soon...

and check out a clip of Miss Alex White and the Red Orchestra fromlast year's Panic in Hamtramck Fest, right here, courtesy of tearytearyteary.