By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Chicagoans The Ponys bolted out of the gate with their 2004 debut, Laced with Romance, a raucous, reverb-drenched affair that wore its proto-punk influences like Pam Anderson wears silicone. The album drew effusive praise from rock tastemakers like Thurston Moore and countless glowing reviews from the indie press, most of which seemed to equate the visceral impact of the Ponys' performance to experiencing some sort of natural disaster.
Laced with Romance brought good-natured geetar rage, harkening back to CBGB-era mainstays Television and the Ramones while giving big props to the leather-clad hood licks of power-chord avatar Link Wray. Recorded in Detroit with White Stripes and Electric 6 producer Jim Diamond, the Ponys' debut coursed with a manic energy and an infectious growling sneer, melding blues, garage and fist-pumping punk rhythm with an old-school tent-revivalist's organ.
With a year of highly touted touring under their belt (and without the aid of talented multi-instrumentalist Ian Adams), the Ponys are back at it in support of their latest record, Celebration Castle. Where Lacedwas an eager flyweight contender, bouncing around the ring and throwing flurry after flurry of power-packed punches, Celebration Castlehas the Ponys playing it like a seasoned heavyweight champ. With über-producer Steve Albini in their corner, things are a little more polished and a little more methodical, but the manic buildup eventually leads to frighteningly powerful combinations in hand-clapping, barnburning tracks like "I'm with You" and "Get Black." Overall, this is good old-fashioned ass-whoopin' music that demands to be seen.
Show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 314-781-4716 for more information.