Thursday, May 3, 2018

Frisbie 20th Anniversary Celebration

Chicago-based power pop band Frisbie’s 20th Anniversary bash this past Saturday at the Martyrs’ club on Lincoln Avenue definitely lived up to fans’ expectations. Known for its critically acclaimed albums—Subversive Sound Of Love and New Debut—and as an opening act for Cheap Trick, Matthew Sweet, and Big Star, Frisbie has gone through lulls but never actually broke up. So Saturday night’s show was not so much a reunion as the latest sporadically scheduled gig.

In addition to inviting Sunshine Boys and The Plutonians onboard for a triple bill, Frisbie founding members singer-guitarist Steve Frisbie and singer-guitarist Liam Davis, along with long-time drummer Gerald Dowd lined up a few surprise guests for its own set. Before Frisbie launched into its first number, a horn section led by Max Crawford provided a festive overture (arranged by Crawford) featuring snippets of the band’s material. Guest singer Nora O’Connor took over on lead vocals for one song and harmonized perfectly with Steve Frisbie and Liam Davis.

Even those unfamiliar with the band would have to be impressed with how Frisbie and Davis kept their powerful vocals perfectly in synch throughout several power pop songs. Crawford’s horn section pitched in at various times, enabling the band to capture the feel of songs from New Debut. “Shine,” “Disaster,” and “S.F.B.” were particular highlights during the set. Frisbie introduced an impressive new song titled “Long Shot” and added a few covers, including a rollicking take on Brian Eno’s “Needle In The Camel’s Eye.”

Opening act Sunshine Boys performed most of the tracks from its recently recently debut Blue Music. Lead-vocalist Dag Juhlin. bassist-backup vocalist Jacqueline Schimmel, and drummer Freda Love Smith have impressive resumes as musicians and they’ve gelled perfectly in this new trio. “Questions” and “Billy Boy” were heartfelt tales, while “Schoolyard Bully” and “Only A Million Miles” set politically charged lyrics to irrestible, high-energy arrangements. The brand new songs “The Serpent In Spring” and “Sideline Guys” showed Sunshine Boys are already getting strong new material ready for their next release. I wasn’t able to stay for The Plutonics, due to my usual need to catch a bus and the last train back out to Palatine.

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