Story and Photos by Tony BonyataLast Sunday the Chicago indie label Machine Records hosted a Record Release Party for their artist Todd Bowie's debut album Lucky Space People at the venerable Northside Chicago club Schubas. The show not only featured a rousing performance from newcomer Bowie and his band, but fellow Machine recording artists Sunday Runners and Dick Prall as well.
The small room was comfortably filled with friends and music fans curious to hear what this Bowie was all about. It didn't take long for them to find out either, as the multi-instrumentalist showed off some of his musical prowess as he bounced over his keys during the opening number "Karmaphobe," ripped through the crowd pleasing alt-rock anthem "Eiffel" with his Gretsch guitar and delivered passionate vocals throughout the evening that captivated his audience (most notably during the angst-ridden, Primal- Scream-era-Lennon finale of "Could Be").
Bowie was accompanied onstage by bassist Mike Hoffmann (EIEIO / Willy Porter) and drummer Doug Corella (The Verve Pipe) who supplied powerful complex rhythms, but still had the dexterity to pull in the reigns when needed for some of Bowie's more challenging and thought-provoking compositions. In a rather odd game of musical chairs, Corella gave up his seat behind the drum kit in the middle of the set just long enough for Derek Crawford (who also played drums along with Corella on Lucky Space People) to add a shot of rock 'n' roll urgency on the numbers "Rise" and "Cotton-Mouth." Paying a bit of homage to one of the originators of the big pop sound, Bowie and company ended the show with a no-nonsense, yet decidedly much harder rocking version of Paul McCartney & Wings' "Jet."
Sunday Runners - led by singer, songwriter and guitarist Randy Diderrich, - ran through an arresting set of numbers, such as "Evolver," Finally" and "Elected," that successfully melded the early passion of Pixies-era alternative rock with textbook Beatle-esque pop sensibilities. Despite a couple of minor setbacks with the playback track, Diderrich bounced back not only with an honest, dry sense of humor, but also with a handful of engaging edgy alt-rock numbers.
With acoustic guitar in hand, opening act singer/songwriter Dick Prall (Starch Martins) quietly stepped onto the stage, along with the talented bass/keyboard accompaniment of Brian McDonald, and delivered a solid set of brand new heartfelt acoustic numbers such as the fragile "Maybe You're a Heart," the beautifully sun-dappled "Barely Moving," as well as a majestic version of " Grand Marquee," which, despite being brand new, found some in the audience singing along by song's end.
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