Chicago posthardcore four-piece Tar broke up in 1995, and the number of times they’ve reunited for a show since then you can count on one hand—this gig will be the first time they’ve buffeted a live audience with their mischievous stomp since 2017. They haven’t exactly been silent the past five years, though: for one thing, they’ve excavated six live recordings from their seven-year run (including a rehearsal tape with no vocals) and uploaded them to Bandcamp. Two of the recordings are from Lounge Ax: the final Tar show in November 1995 and a ripping set from November 1992. The latter captures Tar’s ability to extract melody from repetitive bludgeoning and teeth-gnashing aggression. Front man John Mohr delivers his bellicose yells with the mania of a musician feeding off the energy of a crowd, and the band’s intensity comes through so clearly that you can almost smell the hot, cigarette-stained air of a packed 90s club—and almost see their famous aluminum guitars, custom-built by Ian Schneller at Specimen Products. (That clarity is thanks in part to Brad Wood, one of Chicago indie rock’s go-to producers at the time, who was working live sound that night.) Tar contributed another Lounge Ax set from earlier in 1992 to last year’s four-disc Tar Box, which rounds up their two Amphetamine Reptile albums (1990’s Roundhouse and 1991’s Jackson) and their first AmRep EP, 1989’s Handsome. Georgia indie label Chunklet Industries and Tar’s own No Blow Records had the set’s vinyl pressed at Chicago plant Smashed Plastic, so it’s a full-circle moment to see Tar play at Smashed Plastic’s first daylong music festival.
Tar Part of the daylong festival Smashed Plastic: Live Vol. 1, which also includes several DJs and live sets from Pixel Grip, Fire-Toolz, Rookie, Ono, Serengeti, and Bev Rage & the Drinks. Sat 10/1, noon-10 PM, Smashed Plastic, Workshop 4200, 4200 W. Diversey, $35, 21+