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Earlier this year, one touring indie-rock act balked at the prospect of playing the Replay Lounge; the band reportedly found the venue's close-to-the-crowd layout and unforgiving acoustics unbearable. However, you'll never hear the hard-hitting rockabilly-tinged trio The Buddy Lush Phenomenon throwing in the towel because of such circumstances. "You'd pretty much have to throw sharp things at me for me not to enjoy a show," declares J. Paul, the band's guitarist/ vocalist.
That's not to say J. Paul and company enjoy playing one gig after another. "It's a function of not playing as much," he explains of his enthusiasm for live performances. "You play less, and you really enjoy it a hell of a lot more." Among the sparse dates on the Phenomenon's calendar are a show at the Grand Emporium on Monday, September 4, tentative dates at The Pub and Pauly's, and a Chicago-area show alongside local firebreathers Cretin 66.
Those who are not willing and/or able to catch one of these shows should at least avail themselves of the group's outstanding self-titled album. From scorching instrumentals to subtle pop numbers, this 15-song disc offers plenty of variety without even one track dipping from its remarkably high quality. The drum-fueled "Hugo" best displays the band's technical talents, while "In Love Again" reveals its ability to craft hooks. Although copies have sold at a decent clip, J. Paul says there's plenty of time to do some last-minute shopping. "Everybody is almost selling out of it," he explains. "You can expect high single-digits at our shows, and that's pretty much where we're going with the sales. You give 'em 10, and they're gonna sell nine of them, but they're never going to sell that last one. It's like the last shitty cookie."
Getting Their Feet Whet
Many band formations are sudden and impulsive. A group of friends will see an especially inspiring performance or a film that glamorizes the rock-star lifestyle, and suddenly these budding musicians are in the garage, strumming away on secondhand equipment and filling moments of silence with excited chatter about playing shows. Then there's Whet, a quartet that has been together for two years and has only a handful of shows and an extremely unofficial five-song demo recorded with a boombox in a basement to show for it. However, the problem isn't typical slacker procrastination. It's the mile-wide perfectionist streaks of four classically trained musicians.
Drummer Beth Robinson, who held down a stint with Fast Johnny Ricker's crew for six years and currently pounds the kit behind Kristie Stremel; guitarist/singer Ingrid Stohzel, whose compositions are performed by orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the world; bassist Bryan Mace, who joined the group by replying to a classified ad in the Pitch (see, they do work); and vocalist/violinist Tiffany Thompson make up this accomplished group, whose complex pace-hopping melodies and unorthodox time signatures hint at the time it has devoted to the 12 to 15 songs it currently packs into live sets.
"It's been a rehearsal process for two years," Thompson says. "Our whole style has changed, and we've played with a lot of different musicians. Actually, we planned to have a different singer, but I just kinda got stuck with the job."