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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



BENT NIGHTS Josh Radin; Glitter Creeps
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester

This article shared 483 times since Tue Nov 22, 2016
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On an uncharacteristic note for Bent Nights, we have troubadour Josh Radin, who rolled into town for a packed gig at Thalia Hall on Nov. 8.

Radin unfairly tends to get stuck into that "pop rock" bracket, and the term negates his talent for writing and performing with such subtle finesse that his music defies description. He sings specifically about romantic relationships and his relaxed rasp of a voice tends to gently tumble over his lyrics like the flow of a babbling brook while never falling into the "ick" pit. ( See Carole King and early Roberta Flack on how it's done, and Barry Manilow and Michael Bolton on how it's not. )

As demonstrated on his ongoing discography ( 10 full-lengths, with a new one due in February ), all his songs need is a translucent guitar accompaniment and the slightest whisper of a string section to set them off. Ironically, on the night of this performance, Radin was up against unseen forces.

Those forces were the ongoing presidential election, and though the show was early enough in the evening with no hint of the outcome, it still hung over the better part of the show. With that elephant in the room, Radin jokingly got down to work and treated it all with a half serious attitude.

The night and his music were really about mood ( yes, there was muted lighting throughout and clusters of lit candles at the foot of the stage ) and he set it with a patient "Beautiful Day," an engaging "No Envy, No Fear," and the near-ballads "Only You" and "I'd Rather Be with You." He spoke about writing "You Got A Lot of Growing Up to Do" and shared an anecdote that detailed the power of irony. For "Belong" and "High and Low," he was joined by openers The Ole War, making what sounded intensely personal on record reverberate with acoustic thunder and roof rattling fury here.

It was a quiet night out for the fans and they got what they came for, but there was an unexpected surprise from the evening. As a song about shared struggle and community, "Belong" is what so many people needed to hear Nov. 10.

If the gloom of the election seemed to put a damper on everyone in the city, it seemed to give Glitter Creeps, the monthly queer bash at The Empty Bottle, fuel for celebration—not that it was needed, since this was the second anniversary of siblings Madison and Donnie Moore's uber-queer righteous musical baby, and this edition was clearly an effort to keep up the fight for diversity. With emcee Lucy Stoole at the helm, the night seemed designed to go off the rails in a flaming, jolly heap.

Locals Bev Rage ( vocals and bass ) and the Drinks ( Trevor Cole and Aaron Ehringer on drums and guitar ) kicked the night off with a musical assault aimed at the two essentials for proper queer living: junk food and sex. The set list may have been assembled with brevity in mind ( the longest song lasted a good two minutes ) but the message was as plain as day. "Short Shorts," "Up the Butt," "Thunder Thighs" and "Wet Dream at the Waffle House" were sloppy, rapid-fire anthems served with extra gravy. Before Ehringer and Cole swapped instruments so that Cole could burn through the guitar parts of "Someone New" and "Honk if your Hungry," the sartorially well-appointed Rage managed a costume and wig change ( she went from a severe gravity defying wave to a beer can festooned bouffant ), gave away tiny bubble kits and Oreo cookies to the crowd, and even made a blunt political statement with the unfurling of a brand-new flag.

With all that, nothing could prepare the room for the arrival of NO BUNNY ( one Justin Champlin of Arizona ) as both a concept and a reality. Just how a grown man wearing a bunny mask and no pants singing a mix of garage punk and bubble-gum pop fits in with queer life is a mystery unless you file him under "let your freak flag fly." As absurd as he sounds, NO BUNNY has been doing just that for 15 years, releasing 10 full-length albums and creating an international fan base as well.

Bounding out barefoot and dressed in a pair of Speedos that had seen better days, NO BUNNY's delirious set was ignited by the absurd emotional investment in the set ( the rest of the band was dressed in rabbit costumes as well ). "Goofy" and "mayhem" can't begin to describe the out-of-control wattage of the band as they tore through the suggestively pornographic nursery rhyme "Your Mouth" and raging rockers "Give It to Me" and "Motorhead with Me." Of course, the packed house ate it up and it was pretty clear that Glitter Creeps will be around for some time.

This article shared 483 times since Tue Nov 22, 2016
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