Bobby Conn

Bobby Conn

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Bobby Conn's act is approximately two parts rock show and one part performance art. Not that he interrupts his songs to do interpretive dances, or smear his chest with chocolate, or any other truly wild formal experimentation. But he does, it appears, assume a stage character for thematic purposes. Conn claims to believe he is the Antichrist, and preaches a strange sort of hyper-capitalist anti-ethics which are most easily interpreted as a parody of the corporate mindset. He sticks by this philosophy in the few offstage interviews he grants, and a significant percentage of Conn's entertainment value comes from trying to figure out if he really believes what he says. This odd brand of audience interaction is not the only way in which Conn's music is experimental, however. A regular in Chicago's hip Wicker Park art-rock scene (which gave birth to Liz Phair), Conn hops genres the way some of his listeners hop bars. The styles range from danceable disco-funk to vibrant disco-folk to a bland variety of gritty grunge. Some of the experiments work better than others. The album's two most intriguing tracks share the same title: "Who's the Paul #16" is an ambient mix of various Paul McCartney records, re-recorded at 16 RPM. "Who's the Paul #33" is one of Bobby Conn's own 45 RPM singles, replayed at 33 RPM. This sort of playfulness does at times come dangerously close to empty gimmickry, but he has enough musical talent to keep the album in the realm of the substantive.

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