Review: Chain and the Gang with Strange Boys; February 25, 2010; Casbah, San Diego

Have no doubt about it: Ian Svenonius is one hell of a showman.

The former frontman of the legendary D.C. post-punk band The Make-Up, now performing as Chain and the Gang, treated an extra-hip Casbah crowd to an evening of “Gospel Yeh-Yeh,” the genre that he invented — complete with call-and-response, high kicks, and scripted band-member banter.

Going into the show, I didn’t know much about Chain and the Gang. I listened to The Make-Up a lot in college, though, and I wasn’t going to miss this chance to see Svenonius live. Turns out that the only basic requirement for being a “Gospel Yeh-Yeh” band is to have Svenonius as your frontman.

It was like no time had passed since I last listened to The Make-Up’s amazing final record, Save Yourself. I didn’t know a single song by Chain and the Gang, but I didn’t need to. Svenonius, in an all-white suit, kept the attention focused on himself, his hilarious half-serious/half-satire persona, and his band’s brand of energetic soul-flavored rock.

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