The greatest thing about the Eternals is how the band squirms violently over any genre you hope to shove it in, like a cat over a bathtub. Is the long-running, continually underrated local duo hip-hop? Reggae? Funky punk? The new Can? Yes. And all those descriptors can be tossed in the trash with the band’s latest endeavor, its most ambitious to date.
After the cosmic dub and Bob-Moog-fronting-the-MC5 freak-outs of Approaching the Energy Field, spirited rapper-toaster-singer-poet Damon Locks and (mostly) bassist Wayne Montana are expanding exponentially with a lot of help from a lot of friends. In Millennium Park, the Eternals will unleash their hour-long “Espiritu Zombi Suite,” cowritten with local vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, who actually composed the horn parts here. Bringing this Sun Ra– and Fela-influenced mammoth to life are a grip of Chicago jazzers Matt Lux (bass), Josh Berman (cornet), Manny Bances (flute) and Nick Mazzarella (saxophone), as well as TOC’s Areif Sless-Kitain on drums. Vocalists Jeanine O’Toole and Tomeka Reid back up Locks in his fiery assessment of technological man. Not only is it a one-of-a-kind trip, there are yet no plans to record it.
Opening is Wild Belle, one of the most buzzed-about Chicago acts in a while. So buzzed about, in fact, that brother and sister Natalie Bergman and Elliot Bergman moved to Brooklyn. Of course. The two recently signed a publishing deal with EMI. The hype is on the strength of one single, “Keep You,” and deservedly. Thick horns punch up the summery pop with a dusty Jamaican flavor. “You better come and dance with me,” Natalie sweetly sings on “Take Me Away.” Under her irresistible pheromones, you can smell the coming royalties.