Mash-Up In the (Creeping, Crawling) Flesh

Every once in a while things come together so nicely that it would appear that it was simply meant to be.  After some wrangling over which weekend to go to Chicago for our second annual long-weekend trip together, we finally decided on the first weekend of April.

The first night we were there, I picked up a copy of the Chicago Reader, the local weekly entertainment newspaper at the White Hen convenience store down the street from our Hotel.   As I read through it, the name "Beatallica" caught my eye on the listings and I mentioned it to the guys – I was assuming it was a Beatles/Metallica mix-up mash-up of some sort, but they brought up some good ideas on alternatives: dance music versions of Metallica or house music versions of Metallica or even reggae-styled Metallica.

A quick check on a Treo’s web browser however, revealed that the band was indeed a Beatles/Metallica "parody" band that took Beatles songs, re-wrote them as Metallica would, and then played them as Metallica-style heavy metal.

How could we resist?  With plans for Thursday and Friday night in place, this solved the opening left on Saturday night.

After a fairly lengthy cab ride from downtown to Subterranean, we managed to walk in just as the band was starting.  We knew we were in for a great show, as their chops were clearly good enough to pull off the joke and to make for a fun and entertaining evening.

Beatallica is everything that you would hope from a band like theirs – not a Weird Al parody that gets old entirely too fast, bur rather a genuinely entertaining night that also keeps you laughing AND rocking.

They accomplish this by taking the best parts of each of the bands – the harmonious lyrics and melodies of the Beatles, and the raw heaviness of Metallica to create music that both reveres and parodies both bands.  Parody isn’t even the right term, I guess, since they aren’t making fun of either band in a straightforward manner – it is more of a "satire" band, as explained on their web site. 

For example, the tune "Sandman" is clearly based on "Taxman" by the Beatles, but then goes into heavier guitar parts taken from "Enter Sandman" and throws in a few Metallica-worth twists on the lyrics and melodies.  It is really difficult to describe how the end result is ultimately listenable and enjoyable, making for what may be the world’s catchiest heavy metal ever.  Listen for yourself.

Playing to a crowded club, the band kept things lively, light-hearted and fun, without becoming a joke themselves.  They acknowledged the silliness of what they were doing, but they clearly take the quality of their performance and music seriously, as neither wavered the whole night.  They were rewarded with an enthusiastic crowd who fed them plenty of energy back.

Beatallica will never become a number one hit seller doing what they are doing (however, stranger things have happened) but if you a fan of both or either bands, I recommend checking them out.