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The Problem With Expectations

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 27, 2005 12:01PM

No sooner had Chicagoist read this article in NewCity on the art of the celebrity musical side project than we found ourselves at a party on Saturday night arguing the merits of both William Shatner’s cover of Pulp’s “Common People” and Leonard Nimoy’s treatment of “Both Sides Now.” Shatner's ditty was one of our favorite tracks from last year (and revived the spoken-words-as-singing technique popularized by Jack Nicholson in the movie version of Tommy) and it’s hard not to get a little choked up imagining Spock warbling Joni Mitchell’s lament of lost love at the end of that one Trek episode where he gets a girlfriend. (Well, it’s not hard if you’re a raving geek like Chicagoist).

2005_04_27_licks.jpgJust the same, we’re not wishing either would release more albums or hoping they’ll tour. Somewhere out there are people who had a similar thought after seeing Juliette Lewis sing in the movie Strange Days. And yet she’ll be playing at the Bottom Lounge at 8 PM tonight with her band The Licks. It’s more performance art than a coherent musical statement as Lewis uses her platform to rail on sexism while simultaneously exploiting it like a cut-rate Peaches.

Curiosity and name recognition will also pull in a crowd at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night for the Undertones show. Before it was de rigeur to mix melodic pop inflections into punk rock, the Undertones made it seem obvious. The band broke up in 1983 after the departure of lead singer Feargal Sharkey and re-formed in 1999 with lead singer Paul McLoone. This lineup has toured off and on since 2001 and released an album of new material (Get What You Need) in 2003. There’s no need for the Undertones to improve upon an already essential career output and though they’ll be performing in front of a welcoming crowd (openers include The Methadones, Cobra Verde and Busy Signals), this is no easy money reunion tour. Unlike the Sex Pistols a few years back, this is a band that’s out to prove themselves worthy again some 25 years after their debut single.