With one new track (the well-received “Happy House”) in tote, The Juan MacLean has taken to the road again. DFA yupster-punk – especially the Juan MacLean, being one of its progenitors – would have no trouble sonically filling a venue one-hundred times the size of the Empty Bottle, so it was a welcome occasion for all those who ventured to the Ukrainian village on Friday night.
John MacLean and the omnipresent Nancy Whang took center stage, with MacLean working the boards and assorted percussion, while Nancy sang and incessantly shook a tambourine with what must be a forearm of steel. The performance would have been in danger of becoming the Nancy Whang Show were it not for the enthusiasm of drummer Jerry Fuchs, who paused a tad more than intermittently to sip from bottles of Old Style.
The Bottle, with a capacity of 400, is an ideal venue for the Juan MacLean, namely in providing an opportunity for pent-up Chicagoans –exemplified by a “FUCK NEW YORK!” shouted during an LCD Soundsystem performance of, fair enough, “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” at the Metro last year– to dance their asses off without destroying eachother. Chicago rage can be prodigious, but a good time was had by all.
Highlights included “Tito’s Way” and the ever popular “Give Me Every Little Thing.” But the unquestionable showstopper was Happy House, which started at 12:55 AM and ended at about 1:16. Somehow, Nancy Whang and Jerry Fuchs summoned up the witching-hour energy to stretch the song for over a third of an hour, and one person actually passed out on the dance floor somewhere around minute 15.