Thursday, November 4, 2010

You Be Me For A While

Ellis Clark was a busy guy, performing as Paul McCartney as well as a member of Pink Floyd. Photo from Ellis Clark’s Facebook page.


Last Rites held its third annual Halloween Bash at The Abbey Pub last Friday and Saturday. There were six local acts scheduled per night, and each was given about 30 minutes to pay tribute to a well known band. Located on Chicago’s northwest side, The Abbey has become one of my favorite venues for the way it consistently books interesting shows.


There was a good-sized crowd of people on hand, many of them decked out in costumes, when The Sentinels got things rolling in the guise of MC5 on Friday night. I had never heard of this coed quintet, but they attacked the classics like “Kick Out The Jams” with a fury that was worthy of the original artists. The band’s lead vocalist and one of its guitarists wore massive wigs and glam outfits, while the other three musicians dressed normally. Canasta, another coed band, followed next, and drew an enthusiastic response to its covers of Elton John tunes like “Bennie And The Jets” and “Your Song.”


Who’s This Mary offered an impressive set of music by The Cure, ranging from the early “Boys Don’t Cry” to the later FM radio hit, “Friday I’m In Love.” A fog-filled stage bathed in blue lights helped set the ambience, although none of the members tried to look like Robert Smith and company.


Ellis Clark & Epicycle staged an ambitious reenactment of The Beatles’ famous rooftop concert. Clark played bass, sporting a Paul McCartney wig and beard, while guest vocalist and Beatles fanatic Phil Angotti channeled the vocals and spirit of John Lennon via a long-haired wig and wire-rimmed glasses. The band’s renditions of “Get Back,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “One After 909” and other Beatles songs were right on the mark, and the performance even included an appearance by an English Bobby calling for a halt to the festivities.


Brad Elvis and Chloe F. Orwell came to The Abbey to support Ellis, who in addition to founding Epicycle, is a member of their band, The Handcuffs. Brad told me just prior to the “rooftop” set that the recording of the new Handcuffs CD is coming along well, and it should be released in the not too distant future.


Penthouse Sweets were the next band in line, delivering a rousing selection of songs by The Kinks. Penthouse Sweets are always fun to watch - - they were hilarious as The Sex Pistols at last year’s Halloween tribute bash - - and they didn’t disappoint with their interpretations of Ray Davies material. They covered the hits like “You Really Got Me” and “Til The End Of The Day,” as well as “Big Sky” and “Stop Your Sobbing.”


Throughout the night, it seemed to take longer for each band to set up than at last year’s bash, and certainly longer than when International Pop Overthrow touches down at The Abbey. By midnight, the schedule was off by at least 30 minutes. That meant I wasn’t able to catch Tomorrow The Moon’s take on Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd since I had to catch the last train back to my sleepy little town of Palatine. Tomorrow The Moon is an imaginative keyboards and guitar band, and I was really looking forward to their set, especially with Ellis Clark scheduled to help them out. The musicians were still setting up as I left, and there was a large screen behind them flashing psychedelic images.

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