Live Review: chain and the gang

chain and the gang
jan. 13 • alternative library

Mondays were born tired, here in the west. That’s how they’ve made for awakening.
January 7: I walked down Holly in evening’s cold wind toward the Alternative Library, our city’s newest storefront-turned-venue, and thought how good it would be to have one of D.C.’s most notably vehement frontmen Ian Svenonious kick me from my, oh yes– you guessed it, Monday slumper. Alas! He, and his newest band Chain and the Gang, and their openers The Shivas, rescheduled at very last minute to one week ahead.
As a university student, seven days later meant one week into the newly winter quarter and so, in a weird fit of stress after class on the 13th I retreated home, if instinctively, to my grey couch for a nap. At 9:30 p.m. I checked my bright phone-Facebook, to learn that I had forgotten the show– as thanks to a friend’s post. So I ran.
I ran to recuperate, and rested when I arrived next to the merchandise table and selected something to read: Ian’s newest book Supernatural Strategies for making a Rock’n’Roll Group. It’s a counter-statement, so he claims, to the practical, formulaic wisdom kids are receiving in rock camps and tutorials. Appropriately, I skipped to the pages about critics when he and the gang swung into song. (To the three other acts that I missed, if any of you or your fans are reading please accept my apologies).
“There’s a lot of talk about libraries these days,” he mused, adding “certain kinds you just don’t see ‘em much anymore,” before yelping into the satirically titled, Certain Kinds of Trash. Now aged close to 50, Svenonious can no longer do the same physical whips and somersaults he did in Nation of Ulysses, his first, most influential band that cut its teeth alongside Fugazi in the early 90’s. Still, out of my right eye’s corner I couldn’t help but see through the corridor his high-octane flailing– wriggling himself across the 10 or so feet he had as ground-level stage, and listen to his preacher-man rants. All of this compounded through his sharp looking attire, the glint of a 70’s styled suit veiling underneath what must have accumulated into sweat.
He prefaced every track in this same fashion, improvising according to content, revealing a kind of screwball sermon bent up on anti-capitalist, Marxist ideology. The band’s formula seemed to be weighted in call and response, bluesy garage rock, and to mostly their advantage (despite Svenonious harnessing the focal point). While the crowd wasn’t dancing, it’s because he had them purely transfixed in rock and roll’s power. Ironically, or perhaps with good reason, after reading a few sentences of his mocking music journalisms’, rather the journalist, self-importance, I put the book down and re-located to the crowd’s edge. It was one of those shows at the end where you stand, spent and dazed, thinking, “So what’s next?” Then you figure midnight has passed, it’s no longer a Monday.
–Harrison Kadwit