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THE HOUSE OF CHICAGO

We've booked a few dates around our main gig, the Rothbury festival in Michigan. Tonight we're in Chicago, at the Cubby Bear, opposite the legendary baseball stadium, which looks like the Coliseum.  This one's a benefit for autistic children (aren’t they all?).

I like Chicago, especially this part of town; it's all skateboard and comic shops, green sidewalks and rusty iron bridges and the Blues. I could live here, if I wasn't permanently barred from residency by Homeland Security. I stroll down a long, leafy avenue, stop off at an arty coffee shop and stuff my face with blueberry pancakes.

During the sound check, our technicians, Dougie and Steve, seem uncharacteristically subdued. Our tour manager, Walshie, took them on a crew outing to a Titty bar last night. Strange, they seemed in such high spirits when they left…

Rock Freebase is on better form; he was kidnapped by Missy and Jessica after the 'Summerfest', on the promise that they'd drive him to the next gig. Thank god. That man needed a ride...

I bump into them in a bar next to the venue and let them talk me into several Johnny Walker's. We're smoking on the sidewalk when a tattooed cop in mirror shades scoots by on a quad bike. Jessica cheerfully hails him and they banter like they're old friends. In America, a layer of protocol is missing; there's an automatic assumption of commonality. Everybody's at the same party; and its alright to talk to a complete stranger, cos you know they're a bit off their heads too. Sort of like Glastonbury, everywhere and all the time.

Close to showtime, I head through the car park towards the dressing room.  I'm accosted by an anxious mother and her small son.

'Sir, my son just wanted to thank you for what Alabama 3 are doing for him and his friends tonight'

'Erngg Yuuurgh Bahh!" shouts the boy, anxiously.

                      *

The P.A. is lovely, and we play like angels. Unfortunately it's the day after Independence Day, and its $15 dollars on the door.  We’re a majestic tree of Rock falling in a lonely forest...

Chatting with the punters after the show, I come up with a witty joke...

'I don't know why we're doing this benefit anyway; I met an Autistic child once, He was so anti-social...'

'Actually my son's Autistic.'

'Erngg Yuuurgh Bahh!" shouts the boy, anxiously.

                      *

After the show we head for a House club round the corner. The dance music that comes from these cold industrial American towns is legendary; leaner and darker than its fluffy European cousin, Chicago house doesn’t want to give you a hug. It wants to sneak its hand into your bra, squeeze your tits then steal your purse.

Down iron stairs into a small concrete basement. House was born here; you can still see the blood on the walls. Strobes, UV and a soundsytsem that could trigger an anal prolapse at twenty meters. It's like an interrogation room in Abu Graib. It's not exactly what you'd call fun, and I don't think that's exactly the point.

Verbal discourse is not an option. When you can't understand a word people are saying, postures and gestures take over. Are they less meaningful than the attitudes you adopt when the music's over? When will it be over?

This is the Twilight Zone. Down here, there are three modes of communication: Touch, Mime or Telepathy.  Glass-eyed suicide girls freak with loping gibbons, in Stroboscope.

Magic.

(c) Orlando Harrison 2008