TAR – Teetering / The In-Crowd

TAR – Teetering // The In-Crowd (Touch & Go Records) 1992. Ahhhh yes, TAR. Another of the lesser known bands on the Am Rep roster and definitely part of the Midwestern 1990s noise rock scene. For more background on that scene and Am Rep in particular, I would take a look at my Vertigo review from 9 months ago because their place in the Am Rep universe was very similar to TAR. However, where Vertigo came from Minneapolis, TAR came out of the Chicago (DeKalb to be exact) hardcore scene. They had previously existed as the band Blatant Dissent who were a really cool Midwestern hardcore act. You can find their recordings on other blogs if you look. Now as the 1980′s came grinding to a halt, the name Blatant Dissent just sounded too hardcore and became kind of restricting for the band. So they went with the much more vague and mysterious name TAR. In many ways TAR was as stereotypical a 1990s noise rock name as Blatant Dissent was a 1980s hardcore name. Think about all the bands back then mining this vein with similar names (Tad, Helmet, Vertigo all come to mind instantly). Maybe TAR got lost in the mix a bit and that is why they were not as name-dropped as much as other bands on the Am Rep roster like Cows? I mean, during their run, the band released a total of four singles, four albums, two mini albums, and contributed songs to six compilations and split singles. The band toured nationally and internationally with bands such as Jawbox, Arcwelder, and the Jesus Lizard. That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment. They broke up as the whole scene started to fall apart in 1995. This was their 4th single from 1992 which I believe, captures them at their peak.

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12 Responses to TAR – Teetering / The In-Crowd

  1. Brushback says:

    Hmmm, I always felt that Tar were fairly well known? At least in my circles they were. Mike Greenlees was a zine writer, so that alone helped give them a higher profile in the early going.

    Besides, I’ve always looked at them more as a Touch and Go band than an AmRep band…

  2. Brushback says:

    By the way, the Blatant Dissent EP (“Is There a Fear?”) has the absolute worst drum sound of any record I’ve ever owned. It still sticks out in my head because of that.

  3. Joe says:

    I agree 100 percent about that drum sound on the EP. Funny thing is, most people credit it as being that way because of the “Chicago Sound”.

    I always thought of Tar as a second tier Am Rep band. In my circle of friends here in the midwest, that is how we viewed them at least. I’m looking at their discography here:


    Looks like all of their early stuff was on Am Rep and then they moved to T&G. I probably had lost interest by the time they hit T&G as I am not as familiar with the later stuff as I am with LPs like Jackson, Roundhouse and Handsome. Its funny how different areas of the country/world have different interpretations of a bands relevance.

    Also, I am not equating their popularity or relevance with how good they were. I thought/think TAR were great. I just dont remember them being as popular as say, The God Bullies, Halo of Flies, Helios Creed or Cows.

  4. Smitty says:

    You’re both right. They were well known within that scene but not one of the..uh..stars as they were a little more low key and dressed down than the other bands. Less violent. Had better table manners, etc. Funny, my friend just posted that video on his FB page and I had forgotten how good that ‘Jackson’ record was. I sold it or gave it away back in the day and now wish I had it.

  5. Javi says:

    I think their best stuff are the singles. These and the one posted on the sadly defunct Something I learned Today blog are like the best things I’ve heard from TAR. The song on the Dope, Guns and Fucking in the Streets compilation is also HOT.
    On the other hand, I have the Jackson CD and, pal, I can’t say I really like it, and I find bands like early Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid, Cows, Alice Donut and even some of the Halo of Flies stuff jaw dropping.
    When I listen to it, its just like two chords per song at a midtempo pace, and the overall tone kinda similar to Big Black, but without that cool vibe. I just gave up about two listens later.
    I guess they were a key influence for those Angry Noise-Rock/ Post Hardcore bands such as Dazzling Killmen or Hammerhead but, again, I didn’t really see what their appeal was about when I heard them on that LP. Are their other records better?


  6. Gbooch says:

    I agree with Javi. The Dope Gune & Fucking singles were some of TAR’s best stuff. However, they were A great live act. But Joe, being from the East coast, they HAD that Chicago sound – kicks & snare so out in front of everything else. Joe…Another great post!

    Oh yeah, loved the Biz post! My kids watch that show all the time. One day I will introduce them to the song Pickin’ Buggers!

  7. Smitty says:

    When I listen to them they just sound like a early 90s more trad rock version of the classic Big Black / Naked Raygun Chicago sound. I think if anything they’re not remembered as much as the more extreme bands (J Lizard, Unsane, Cows) because they were a little more run of the mill – just a good solid mid-western hard indie rock band.

    Also, was just listening to ‘Jackson’ and remembered the problem with that album is side 2 is so much better than side 1.

  8. Joe says:

    George / Smitty — no doubt TAR had the “Chicago Sound”. My point is that the drum sound on the Blatant Dissent release is accredited to the “Chicago Sound” when in reality I think it is just really bad production. But TAR was definitely a Chicago sounding band and a midwestern one in overall approach. In fact, to a degree its the “midwesterness” of it that sometimes makes it a bit nondescript.

    As far as their best stuff, I remember thinking at the beginning that they were trying to sound too “noise rock” and they got better with each release on AM Rep as they developed their own sound that as Javi points out is more trad midwestern rock with noise elements. I thought they peaked with Roundhouse and Jackson. This release was around that time too. I’m gonna have to pull out my old Dope Guns and Fucking releases and see if you guys are right about the early TAR stuff. Wouldn’t suprise me if time and distance have changed my perception.

    One thing I gotta say though is Dazzling Killmen were not influenced by TAR. They came out at the same time. They were both influenced by the same things. I know this because Dazzling Killmen were a hometown band for me.

  9. Smitty says:

    I was responding to Javi more than anything you said but sounds like we all agree with shades of difference. Saul Goode.

    Yes, definitely not an influence on Killmen or Hammerhead as they were all contemporaries.

    Also, interesting note or gossip or whatever but I believe Am Rep was a little miffed when they split Am Rep for Touch & Go though am sure they’re all friends again.

  10. Adamski says:

    Good band! Absolutely love the “Jackson” LP which I think was their peak, but all their other stuff is pretty nifty, too. Quite subtle hooks & very powerful. I’d say they were quite underrated & much better than stuff like Vertigo.

  11. thomas p says:

    Haha, funny you feature two of my fave bands in a row. I saw a european AmpRep package tour in 1990 (GodB, Helmet, Surgery, Halo and Tar) and they were absolutely amazing and best band of the night. My perception then was that they hit a quite unique “post punk” aproach, most of their tracks sounded like a blow up of early 80ies bands like Circus Mort. @Adamski: Vertigos debut 7″ is a f. blast of midwestern rock!

  12. Thanks for the Tar. Saw them quite a few times mid-late 80s. They were tremendous live & they have good recorded material as well. This post prompted me to post up Handsome…a really good listen if you give it a few tries & let their sound & style sink in. “Mel’s” off Handsome is one fine, fine tune. Thanks Joe for stimulating my decaying memory.

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