What becomes a semi-legend almost?
Eight albums, plus a handful of singles and compilation appearances in three decades, Chicago’s Green may be the best band you never heard of.
Well you had your chance.
You might even get another chance.
On June 18th, Green performed at Wire in Berwyn, Illinois and aside from receding hairlines and greying manes they pretty much nailed it. Like always. Soaring harmonies, big pop hooks, charging rhythms, minor key bridges, hell even a between-sets DJ playing crappy music.
Frontman/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Lescher has led this band through line-up changes, major label flirtations, European festivals, recording sessions in French castles and most recently, opening for The Zombies.
Following an opening set by Material Reissue (the retitled Material Issue in a nod to the late Jim Ellison), Green took the stage at Wire and blasted through fifteen songs that ranged from ragged, pure pop (“She’s Heaven”), to hyper-charged (“Gotta Get a Record Out”) to soft balladry (“Monique, Monique”) to psychedelic (“Tonight”).
With vocal support from longtime bassist Clay Tomasek and guitarist Jason Mosher, Green ably hinted at their influences from the Beatles (Hamburg to Rubber Soul), the Beach Boys and the Kinks, with subtle nudges toward soul and metal. Drummer Mike Zelenko, who played a double header behind the kit with Material Reissue as well, seemingly ended the night with as much energy as when he started.
Unabashed keepers of the flame of obscurantist rockism, the band released a 45 called REM in 1988, to counter the famous Athens, GA band’s LP Green, in the same spirit Nick Lowe released an EP called Bowi to counter the Thin White Duke’s LP Low. (Or the Rumour’s LP Max, if you really wanna head down that rabbit hole). Lescher even recorded his own tribute album to Gram Parsons (with Eleventh Dream Day’s Janet Beveridge Bean taking the Emmylou Harris role.)
Yet, it has been Lescher’s romanticism…be it art, classical music or the opposite sex that offers up an endless well of inspiration. From the carnal to the divine, he has never denied that three chords cranked up good and loud coupled with the right lyrics can be something bigger.
He may be onto something.