Punk is derided by snobs for its characteristic lack of musicianship. Highbrows fail to recognize the tremendous importance of music with an ethic that invites any participant. Artists fueled more by practice than theory foster a fruitful exchange whenever they perform in front of an audience. At every punk show, floating in the frenzied head of every punk fan is this tiny insight: ‘I too, can do that.’ To begin creating music at all, one must transcend worries about embarrassment caused by a whole host of inadequacies, the most potent being limitations imposed by a lack of training. Punk, as a style of playing, levels the field so dramatically that music now owes the genre a great debt for the number of seasoned musicians who wouldn’t have picked up an instrument otherwise. It’s the loyal community that made a band of brilliant freaks like The Ramones possible. It’s the confrontational congregation that spawned the Sex Pistols. And it’s that same unpretentious assemblage that is responsible for the most entrancing band in our own backyard, Mayor Daley. The trio is still reeling from their latest effort, “Sand Bath,” a collection of tunes equally indebted to art-punk originators Wire and post-hardcore behemoths Unwound. It’s downright impressive how many legendary acts Mayor Daley manages to conjure, always as a source of inspiration rather than plagiarism. Even upon first listen, their sound feels familiar: bright bass riffs anchor a wretched guitar tone, perfectly synced with an incessant rhythm that the drummer must have been born playing. When ghostly vocals are strewn atop the trio’s laser-beam focus, the results are chilling. A legacy of like-minded artists may have paved the path for Mayor Daley’s muscular musicianship, but the impact of their craft is uniquely theirs. This vitality is punk’s true worth. It unflinchingly alters the audience into active participants, and the women who front Mayor Daley are a testament to its passion and power. (Kenneth Preski)
August 26 at Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western, (773)276-3600. 9pm. Free.