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Big Dipper - Bottom Lounge, Chicago, March 23rd

Saturday night I made the 90 mile drive south to Chicago to see Big Dipper.  Playing at the Bottom Lounge, this was a rare Midwest appearance.  Big Dipper’s roots go back to 1979, the year The Embarrassment formed.  From Lawrence, Kansas they were perhaps the greatest pop band of all time.  Disbanding in 1983, Bill Goffrier moved to Boston, forming Big Dipper with Gary Waleik and Steve Michener (Volcano Suns) and Jeff Oliphant (Dumptruck).  If you are under 40 you need to look up these great bands.  After three releases, including one for major label Epic, the band broke up.  “Heavens” and “Craps” on Homestead Records are essential listening.  In 2008 they re-formed for shows while Merge Records released a fantastic 3 disc anthology “Supercluster”.  Now they are back with a new lp, “Crashes on the Platinum Planet” with Tom Brewitt replacing Mr. Michener.   I saw the Embarrassment reunion show in Boston in the late 80’s but had never saw Big Dipper.  Needless to say I was pretty dam excited about Saturday night.  And they did not disappoint.  Big Dipper sounded great with their dual guitar leads, playing jangly power pop with big hooks and melodies.  Early in the set they featured new song, “Lord Scrumptious” a catchy soon to be pop classic.  From “Heavens”, “Loch Ness Monster” (Gary on vocals) and “She’s Fetching” (Bill on vocals) sounded contemporary and vital with big hooks and edgy power pop punk guitars.  The highlight of the night for me was hearing “Younger Bums” even though they admitted they missed a line from the song.  This is the ultimate Big Dipper song, an intense anthem daring you to sing-a-long but filled with desperation.  They followed it with probably the crowd’s favorite of the night, “Faith Healer”.  This was big and raw, full of energy, intensity and screaming dual guitars.  The encore brought two more favorites, “Meet the Witch” and “Ron Klaus Wrecked His House” complete with an update from Mr. Klaus.  I don’t know if they are planning on recording more albums and continue touring, but for one night I couldn’t stop smiling.  I’m glad I finally had the chance to see Big Dipper.  I don’t think they will be playing the county fair circuit anytime soon, opening for Travis Tritt.