Photography by Heather Kaplan
Energy works in mysterious ways: It can be spontaneous, it can be loud, it can be radiant. Last night’s sold-out show at Chicago’s Schubas Tavern observed all three in a bill that could best be described as “unique.” Topped off by CoSign’d rockers The Preatures, the Australian outfit were joined by fellow compatriots Bloods and Los Angeles garage rock brethren, The Bots.
“Are you ready to dance,” singer Isabella Manfredi taunted before the night’s closer, “Is This How You Feel?”. Well, yes, we had been bouncing around the whole time! For three straight hours, myriad soles scraped against the weathered wooden floors of the venue. And while The Preatures easily had everyone double-knotting their dancing shoes, their two openers were quite worthy.
Bloods cracked the evening open with their sunburned distortion and friendly harmonies. They were allotted 45 minutes, which was too lofty of a set for the Aussie trio. Vocalist/guitarist Marihuzka Cornelius and vocalist/bassist Victoria Sweetie Zamora kept their tongues in their cheeks as they waded through the excessive time with their frantic, two-minute songs.
After resorting to old material (“Goodnight”) and flexing a catchy new song (“Bring My Walls Down”?), Cornelius ultimately decided to start the entire set over. “We’re Sydney’s most professional band,” she quipped sarcastically. The decision proved smart, however, as the crowd had tripled, and none of them had seen the first two songs: “No Fun” and “Into My Arms”.
A quick glance would have you believe they nabbed Cloud Nothings’ Jayson Gercyz, Best Coast’s fuzzy demos, and Marissa Paternoster’s iconic bob. But that would be unfair. These kids have so much spunk and spirit that it’s fucking addicting. They’re also quick on their feet and it’s their charming spontaneity that won the crowd over (including this writer).
“Should we do a comedy routine,” Zamora suggested, “I got some good cheese jokes up my sleeve.” See? A genuine set by a genuine act who’s sporting a genuine vibe. Chicago’s Minty Fresh label is right to champion their name. And their blood-red cassette tape, Work It Out, ain’t too shabby at home, either.
Shortly after, The Bots’ Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei dragged their sludgy blues rock out, turning up the volume with startling results. The way the two brothers tinker with their own devices is something worth marveling over. It’s a little stressful watching Mikaiah shift between his six-string, a keyboard, and about two-dozen effects pedals, but it only speaks to his talents.
Though, his brother is equally as impressive. As Mikaiah gets all shifty on his guitar, Anaiah sets the foundation with plodding percussion that’s both vibrant and dense. He’s a young Brad Wilk, which isn’t too much of a stretch given the music. The Bots ricochet between California punk rock a la Dead Kennedys and thick, meandering modern rock like Rage Against the Machine.
To their dismay, the levels were a tad off at Schubas, leaving Mikaiah sounding muffled at times. To make matters worse, his guitar conked out towards the end. He got his revenge with an incendiary rendition of “5:17” and the sprawling 10-minute jaunt, “Desperate”, which left him kicking and shaking on the floor. Anaiah finished things off by passing out his drums into the crowd.
Once The Preatures arrived, everyone was limber enough to shake, rattle, and stroll. They played mostly everything off Blue Planet Eyes and even dusted off earlier tracks like “Threat” and “Take A Card”. Who knows what’s going on behind the scenes, but there’s some real Stevie/Lindsey sort of magic between Manfredi and lead guitarist Jack Moffitt. Bedroom eyes galore.
Yet that was all part of the fun. Manfredi is a peculiar force. She crawls on the floor, does the Chris Farley/”Maniac” dance, leans against her bandmates, and tends to stare straight into the eyes of nobody. Her live performance is visceral and she adds a little rust to most of the choruses. It’s a magnetic style that’s dangerous, that’s sexy, that’s … well, radiant.
Rarely are Thursdays ever this memorable.
The Preatures Setlist:
Whatever You Want
Rock And Roll Rave
Two Tone Melody
Blue Planet Eyes
It Gets Better
Am I Ever…?
Take A Card
Is This How You Feel?