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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What to Do? Tuesday's Pick: Chemlab @ DNA Lounge

Posted By on Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 7:07 AM

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Chemlab @ DNA Lounge

Apparently they're calling this multi-band package jaunt the "MIDI Ghetto Tour" -- a phrase that encapsulates the Chemlab ethos nicely. Chemlab has always been self-consciously cyberpunk, a gang of sci-fi rock 'n' roll poets and pill-popping console jockeys looking for their next thrill in the city's skeezier back alleys. Frontman Jared "Louche" Hendrickson writes of a world full of urban violence and postmodern angst -- a place where the promise of transgressive ecstasy is always worth a few blown fuses and fried circuits -- and he likes to imagine himself positioned somewhere on the Iggy Pop continuum between "Search & Destroy" and "The Passenger," except with lyrics inspired by William Gibson and synthesizer basslines programmed by Crackbot 2000. In short, he's a libertine for the digital era. Unlike Iggy's primal panther-spirit simplicity, however, Chemlab's future-shock aesthetic has felt the sting of age lately: Jared's not young anymore and electro/rock crossover is long out of vogue, the industrial scene having abandoned rusty cyberpunk in favor of glistening futurepop. Whether Chemlab can still get post-rave kids to jack in to its dirty, decadent, dystopic rock 'n' roll vision of 21st Century rebellion is far from certain. But you gotta give Chemlab credit for sticking to its (laser) guns. Let the cry go forth: cyberpunk's not dead. Not while Chemlab's still sleazing around, at least.

With 16 Volt, Left Spine, Down, Slave Unit, DJ Decay, Mr. Smith, Holy Filament at DNA Lounge tonight. (9 p.m., $10)

For more Tuesday recommendations, visit our calendar picks.

Follow us @SFAllShookDown.

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John Graham


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