Chain & The Gang, the most recent, long running, group spearheaded by longtime underground fixture Ian Svenonius takes the Northwest by storm for a run of dates beginning January 8 at Portland’s Mississippi Studios.
For decades the DIY underground has focused on close knit scenes like D.C. and Olympia as the hotbeds of cool; and in no small part Ian Svenonius has been at the epicenter of the spotlight since bursting on the scene in the early 1990s as “the sassiest boy in America,” fronting the post-hardcore group Nation of Ulysses. Svenonious would go on to solidify his, self-manufactured, persona through subsequent bands such as Cupid Car Club, The Make-Up, Scene Creamers and Weird War releasing albums on labels like Dischord, K Records, and Touch and Go Records. Simply, Svenonius is a perplexing constant in the American independent underground who is nothing short as one of its guiding spirits.
When Chain & The Gang emerged with its relatively stripped down and funky debut five years ago, a refreshed Svenonius also emerged. In short order, over the course of four albums, Chain & The Gang has cemented an identity of its own. Provocative, while elusive; Svenonius and a revolving cast of like-minded explorers have proven that despite past accolades a clear vision and dedication can cast its own shadow.
Where Nation of Ulysses seemed to be occupied by a cold war idea of espionage and teenage subversion of the capitalist system and The Make-Up often came off as 60s psycho-sexual fetishism, Chain & The Gang speaks to a more contemporary and relevant issues of urban gentrification, ecological waste, commercialism and personal freedom through the vehicle of gospel, 50s rock and roll, and a bit of protopunk tropes.
In its latest incarnation Svenonius backed by a road hardened group who have toured throughout the last year and a half, honing a more driving and focused group effort than earlier versions of the group. With alternating male/female vocal dynamics and the ever youthful Svenonius posing as an unnatural primal force of a frontman, the band is powerful and primal without missing the swing that gets the dancefloor shaking. Without hyperbole, live Chain & The Gang are on par with even the most mythologized of Svenonius’ backstory. Tourdates below the video.
January 8 – Mississippi Studios, Portland
January 9 – Midnight Sun, Olympia
January 10 – Black Lodge, Seattle
January 11 – Electric Owl, Vancouver
January 12 – The Barn Light, Eugene