Beta Band Unplugs For Powerless Fans

There was something a little too poetic about the refrain, "I need light" in the Beta Band's signature song, "Dry the Rain," last night (April 18) at Chicago's Vic Theatre. Making the best of a power

There was something a little too poetic about the refrain, "I need light" in the Beta Band's signature song, "Dry the Rain," last night (April 18) at Chicago's Vic Theatre. Making the best of a power outage at the Wrigleyville area venue, singer Steve Mason repeated the phrase as he strummed an acoustic guitar and hoped his voice carried up into the balcony.

The power went out during the final pre-show warm-up film and as the 900-person audience waited patiently lit only by the venue's emergency lights, the Beta Band did its best to persevere. The group performed a handful of songs completely unplugged to a surprisingly quiet and well-behaved crowd.

Playing guitars, percussion, trumpet, and melodica, the band trotted on and off stage giving announcements and making jokes about the progress (or lack thereof) from the Commonwealth Edison repair crew. Among the songs played were "Human Being," "Quiet," "Dry the Rain," a lengthy percussion jam, and some free jazz with the trumpet player Neil Richardson, who was also celebrating a birthday during the show.

When not playing, bassist Richard Greentree passed out some champagne and beer from the stage. Nearly two hours later, as the batteries on the back-up lights started failing, the show was called off. The band promised to return as soon as possible and promptly headed to the nearby Smart Bar with a crate of records to spin a DJ set.

The Beta Band is touring in support of its latest Astralwerks album, "Hot Shot II," which debuted at No. 11 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart last August and has sold 50,000 copies in the U.S. to date, according to SoundScan. The group proceeds to Milwaukee tonight (April 19) and wraps its U.S. dates May 5 in Seattle.