Chao (Dallas): Nobody escaped from Day of the Double Agent without a few cuts, bruises and scrapes. The band that formed from the ashes of broken Dallas art-rock hearts (Captain Audio, When Babies Eat Pennies, Comet) fell apart last year, leaving one of Dallas' most promising musical collectives of the past five years to burn out, not fade away. It was a tough loss for local music, but one that's much easier to bear now with the return of Regina Chellew's solo project Chao. The former Captain Audio member arguably had the most to lose from putting her trust into DotDA--she'd already been burnt when two-thirds of Captain Audio split town to soar to major label heights in the Secret Machines, and returning to music in DotDA was a risk that ultimately didn't pay off.
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But she has emerged in recent months, proven by a stellar gig at the last La Femme Qui Rock event at Hailey's, which reaffirmed her musical prowess. Chellew has a knack for picking up stellar on-stage support--right now, she's enlisted the help of Jeff Ryan (Pleasant Grove) on drums, Lindsay Romig (Deathray Davies, Pennywhistle Park) on keyboard and bass and Daniel Huffman (DotDA, Ghostcar, Comet) on guitar--and her show still pulls off a trippy blend of layered, feedback-hungry guitars and cutthroat pop songwriting. Unfortunately, Chao performances are almost as rare as, well, gigs by the New Year, so Chellew's performance is as "must-see" as anything else on the WoSF '06 bill. —Sam Machkovech