The hyper, modern rock of Material Issue rocked the Zephyr Tuesday night with a clean 17-song set.
From beginning to end, the three-man band from Chicago played all out. Every song crackled with energy as guitarist/vocalist Jim Ellison, drummer Mike Zelenko and bassist Ted Ansani played to the standing-room-only crowd.Many songs were taken from the band's most recent release, "Freak City Soundtrack." Songs like "One Simple Word" and "Help Me Land" were offered with such enthusiasm, the audience just couldn't sit still. In the balcony, on the floor and behind the bar, people were moving, jumping and grinding to the beats.
The first song of the night was the love-stricken confession "Going Through Your Purse." Zelenko's quick, flapping drum lines kicked the song into force as Ansani and Ellison cranked out the choppy chords and bass line. "Rene' Remains The Same," the band's first song to get radio airplay, was heard next.
Basically, all Material Issue songs have the same hyper feel. But the band was able to throw in a few surprises. The Southern industrial twang of "Trouble" and the Fab Four-influenced "The Fan" brought diversity to the list. Other tunes included the mainstream-sounding "Crazy" and the clean, harmonious chorus of "Funny Feeling."
One of the many crowd-pleasers was the song "Kim the Waitress." The catchy arrangement had members of the audience singing along as they danced into each other.
Material Issue also demonstrated its technique by shifting the set's dynamics. Ellison slowed the pace and strummed out the happy intro and verse to "Funny Feeling." The light-hearted pomp quickly turned into an industrial bounce as the rest of the band jumped in on the chorus. The club atmosphere added to the show as Ellison took time to reach for the dancing crowd with his guitar. He stepped onto the very edge of the stage and fingered out simple but snappy solos as the rest of the band kept their stance in the back.
The psychedelic sound of "What Girls Want" was received by a huge scream of approval, as was the hit "Valerie Loves Me." Ellison stopped playing guitar during those songs to grab the microphone and lunge into the audience to make his point and sneer at the ladies in the front row.
A two-song encore finished the night with a bang. The band once more took the stage and played another crowd-pleaser, "Diane," from its second album, "International Pop Overthrow." A crafty speedball rendition of "Ballroom Blitz" ended the spastic show.
Local band the Obvious served as the warmup. The grungy-bluesy pomp got the crowd to the floor and left the dancers wide open for the explosive set from Material Issue.