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Concert review: Electric Six, The Constellations at Double Door 9/17/10

Dick Valentine of Electric Six performing Friday, September 17, 2010 at the Double Door in Chicago
Dick Valentine of Electric Six performing Friday, September 17, 2010 at the Double Door in ChicagoSusan Schomburg

Electric Six, The Constellations, Double Door

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When you go to a lot of live shows, you sometimes have the experience of going to one where, for a variety of reasons, you really feel like you just need to go home and take a shower afterwards. Last night's show at the Double Door was like that, in a good way.

Detroit's Javelins opened the evening with a set of electro indie with a synthy garage vibe. The vocals were super-high and nasaly (listening to their singer/drummer talk in a normal male voice, you would not expect him to be making the sounds that came out of him when he sang), but not in a bad way. The band had a decent live sound, but had a somewhat sedate live performance, at least last night. They didn't give people much to look at while they were playing, all just standing around onstage (which is fine, but not particularly interesting). They were an opening band, and acted like one.

Not being familiar with Atlanta's The Constellations prior to yesterday's performance, I didn't really know what to expect, but when, after the first band's set ended, people immediately started swarming around the front of the stage, I got the feeling that there was probably a reason for it, and there was. They were impressive. Their sound is tight, old school R&B-influenced rock'n'roll with a charismatic frontman and a keys player who has some serious chops. Their closing number, "Step Right Up", had a lot of showmanship, as various band members moved to the front of the stage to solo (the keyboard player, brandishing a cowbell, actually hopped down and danced through the audience before returning to the stage to play the rest of the song). This band has obviously spent some time finding their own musical voice and stage personality, and it shows. I highly recommend seeing them live the next time they're in town.

I am pretty sure most people in the audience, however, were there for Detroit's own Electric Six. They delivered exactly the kind of weird, wonderful performance I would have expected. The set included their big hits and fan favorites, as well as some new songs from their forthcoming album, Zodiac. The group's peculiar frontman, Dick Valentine, appeared in character (and in a black pinstripe lounge suit with red satin shirt) and performed, a mixture of holding court or mastering ceremonies, and singing songs for a disco/punk/rock band. He also took turns drumming, and spun strange yarns about each band member by way of introducing the next song. What can I say? These guys know how to put on a good show. They played well, were spot-on, and came back for a lengthy encore, which included "Gay Bar" and one of my personal favorites, "She's White," also off their breakthrough album, Fire. The fans got rowdy, slamming into each other and jumping up and down, and a good, sweaty time was had by all.

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