Crime rock from the nation’s capital! No, it’s not a new genre, but more of a joke thing from a rock and roll front man with an excess of dynamism. You get the feeling that Ivan Svenonius, 45, would be a comedian if he could only hunker down and focus on one thing. But no. Svenonius has started way more bands than just Chain and the Gang, a Washington D.C.–based outfit, and he also writes books, hosts radio talk shows, makes films, and probably does more that we don’t know about. Chain is merely the newest of his ventures.
With four albums to their credit, they are presently touring behind Minimum Rock and Roll, a record that poet/punk icon/magazine columnist Henry Rollins included in his own list of faves from 2014. Svenonius has a background in political indie rock and borderline post-punk, but strangely enough, he was first singled out of the crowd by a teen magazine 25 years ago. He had a band then called Nation of Ulysses. Kurt Cobain liked them enough to paint that band’s name on his and Courtney’s apartment wall, this according to the Washington Post. Whether or not he got his security deposit back, they did not say.
- Friday, January 2, 2015, 8 p.m.
3519 El Cajon Boulevard,
Chain is a garage-rock band with subtle Blaxploitation undertones in the ambiguous bass lines and Svenonius’s neon suits and Motown moves. There’s the safe haven of a keyboard, but the guitar is tense and tinny and borders on out-of-tune. A listener may hear subtle Marxism in lyrics like “Youth is wasted on the young/ wealth is wasted on the rich/ looks are wasted on the beautiful,” or in Chain’s wonderful elegy to consumerism in “Certain Kinds of Trash”: “Pop tops from a 12-ounce can/ you just don’t see ’em/ Unh unh.” The message? Never ever forget that rock and roll is all about a good time.