The Goldstars at the Edgewater Lounge
Saturday, December 8, 2001, Chicago
I had been planning on going to the Old Town School of Folk Music too see the Handsome Family. I also could have seen Ryan Adams and Lucinda Williams at the Riviera. Instead, I went to a new bar on the far north side of Chicago to see a new garage rock band, the Goldstars. And I’m glad I did.
Unlike the majority of neo-garage bands, the Goldstars don’t have to double the tempo of the original sixties recordings in order to add energy to their covers, the bulk of which can be found on Rhino’s 1998 Nuggets box set. In fact, the Goldstars had originally called themselves “the Nuggets” and had planned on exclusively covering those songs. Fortunately, they decided against that idea and mixed in a handful of their own originals, most of which fit in perfectly between garage punk classics like the Rare Breed’s “Beg, Borrow and Steal” and Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Just Like Me.”
It’s a strange anachronism for guys in their thirties to perform a style of music that was created for and by teenagers. I suppose you could say the same about rock and roll in general, but there is something about sixties garage rock that just screams, “Puberty!” And that awkward, primitive, savagery is what makes the best garage punk stand up over time. You can feel the hormones out of control when you listen to anything on Crypt‘s Back from the Grave series. While the Goldstars are all too good on their instruments to really mimic the raw intensity of the original recordings, they infuse the songs with their own power-pop freshness.
They might not capture the awkwardness, but the Goldstars nail the spirit of fun. From their chincie star-shaped necklaces to the glittery fringe covering up the organ, the guys in the band were obviously into putting on a good show. And they did.
And the Edgewater Lounge is destined to become a great bar. It was recently opened by the former owner of Chicago’s famous Augenblick, which was closed down by the condo-hungry forces of gentrification. It’s got a great vibe, and it will only get better once they install their extra taps for the draft Rogue Ale. Yum.
7 thoughts on “The Goldstars at the Edgewater Lounge”
I was there (as Jake well knows) and wasn’t quite as impressed. Seemed about average to me. Granted, I do see a lot more garage bands than most. But I found the Goldstars to be too rehearsed. And with a small crowd, the vibe wasn’t there. Not a bad show, but not a great one either. Maybe I’m just Motor City jaded.
I have to agree. The Goldstars were a bit too good on their instruments. People looking for dirty garage rock may not find it with this group. Though I had a fine time and the selection of songs was excellent, the usual abandon and lunacy that makes garage so good was missing.
We certainly aren’t “rehearsed.” We’ve only been together for a couple of months and this show was only our third, but we do try to be competent. I also beg to differ about the talent level on our respective instruments, but I take great pleasure in being told I’m “too good.” Anyway, this is a cool web site and I’m glad to be a part of it.
Ah, humility aside, you guys are better than 98% of the garage bands out there…admit it. I’ll bet you know scales and everything. I know Jeff, Jake and I all had a great time and were by no means trying to slag you guys. It’s just that most of the garage bands we see, and we’ve seen planty, have a clumsy charm to them that comes with their limited abilities. Not that they aren’t good, but that they’re often limited in their exposure to music and training. I’ll stand by my assessment that the Goldstars are better on their instruments than the music often calls for.
As much as I love the primitive nature of a lot of mid-sixties punk, I find it extremely condescending that people want to think that these were kids who just couldn’t play their instruments. The vast majority of the garage bands who recorded anything were competent musicians and very professional in nature. And if you listen to anything by the Sonics or Paul Revere and the Raiders, you’d be insane to say that they were sloppy. Granted, some of the engineering decisions resulted in “dirty” sounding recordings, but the performance itself was top-notch. My only real criticism of the Goldstars is that they needed to do more screaming. Waaaahhh! I love screaming in garage rock. It’s my favorite thing.The Goldstars seem to focus on the more melodic, poppy side of garage rock, which is a rare thing in contemporary garage bands because everybody loves the more punk rock aspects. Check out my Grand Rapids Rocks radio station and you’ll hear that a lot of what was really being played at the time sounded a lot more like the Goldstars than the Stooges. (Except in Detroit where all the kids were nutso!)
That last parenthetical pretty much sums up what I’m saying. In Detroit, the scene was and still is different. Way more punk. Way more rough. This is Gibson SG country…
if you listen to anything by the Sonics or Paul Revere and the Raiders, you’d be insane to say that they were sloppy