Wow, what a week! This one is packed, Surfers, so gear up, hit that playlist button, and dive into the week in music. Chicago’s first fully female-produced hip hop record, stunning release shows from Girl K and Oozing Wound, and a 312 day celebration at The Empty Bottle with locals Post Animal and Bunny. And that’s just the shows! There were five great albums and a couple excellent singles to come out of our city this week. And if you look beyond our lakeside home, it was a monster release week all over the world, even with the whole industry’s eyes pointed southward. (Yeah we’re talking about SXSW, keep your mind on the music!) Get ready for music overload as this week covers so many artists that we’ve lost count. Get on in there and discover your new favorite band.
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“When you work with someone who's been your best friend for so long, they tend to highlight the traits or characteristics that might not normally come to your mind first.”
- Ben Kostecki
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⬐ SHOWS ⬎
Oozing Wound / Platinum Boys / Hitter / DIM
Oozing Wound / 📷 : JCB
On Saturday, local thrash maniacs Oozing Wound released their fourth LP High Anxiety to an adoring crowd of knuckleheads at the Empty Bottle. High Anxiety is an appropriate title given the fact that the world appears to be slowly ending in a global cave in the form of various environmental disasters, the revival of right-wing authoritarianism, and high profile, streamable content consisting entirely of race-motivated murders. Knowing something about the legit nerd-cred of the band, I would not have been surprised if the album were titled: I Don’t Want to Live on This Planet Anymore, but a good Mel Brooks reference will suffice.
Oozing Wound's record release was, of course, a sold-out show. They're one of the city’s more popular metal bands and the house was packed with a range of Chicago denizens, from preppy Gold-coasters, to Carhartt-insulated Logan Squares, art students with asymmetric haircuts, heshers in studded jackets, a rather broad fellow in a black hoodie featuring an image of a burning church with words “Stay Lit” underneath, and at least one woman in a Franz Ferdinand shirt. Oozing Wound is one of those bands that has an astoundingly broad appeal across the city’s diverse music scenes- a fact that was fully apparent from the jovial crowd assembled for their set, all of whom got to know their neighbor's shoulders and elbows surprisingly well while they waited for their favorite dripping abscess acolytes to ascend the stage.
The night kicked off with local shoegazers, Dim. The band is not what you would expect from their recordings. On both their 2015 self-titled release and their 2017 LP Stereo 45, Dim demonstrates that they will not be deterred from plunging head first into a tarn of guitar distortion to play with their favorite post-punk pool toys. Live is a different story. Anchored by the noises echoing from Bill Connors affectionately wrestling with his bass guitar, the group resemble an atmospheric sludge metal band performing below an angry sky of Deftones inspired electronics conjured by Jimmy Steyskal. I enjoyed how distinctly each member of the band filled out the range of frequencies their respective instruments allotted them in order to balance their weighty sound. This was a pleasantly low-key way to start out the night.
Slashing and burning their way into the second slot of the evening was Hitter. There are more popular bands in the city, but there aren’t any that are more fun, on or off stage. Hitter answer the question, what if Fear was more PC and was also really into Venom and Van Halen? Boozy, brooding, and turgid with gleeful irreverence, they will burn down your house party if it dares to run dry! Lead vocalist Hanna Johnson channels a number of might rock deities while belting out invocations of mayhem, prowling the stage like Wendy O Williams, flexing and strutting as if trained by the mighty Thor himself, and even embodying A Giant Dog’s Sabrina Ellis with some impromptu aerobics. This is a band that knows how to play together, guided by the jagged and toothy guitar playing of Adam Luksetich, energized by the bulging tumult of Madalyn Garcia’s bass riffs, and unleashed with the aid of Ryan Wizniak’s rock-solid drum work. With little more than a demo under their belts, they’re already a band to watch in Chicago’s storied rock scene.
After Hitter crushed the crowd’s expectations, I almost felt bad for whoever had to perform on what was left of the stage in their wake. This doubtful honor was bestowed on Platinum Boys. I was initially resistant to their set due to their wardrobe choices: wide-brim fedoras, trucker hats, and Harley-Davidson shirts, and sunglasses at night... It definitely colored my impression of the wholesome Midwestern power-pop they were putting down. Almost like they were making fun of people who grew up listening to Tom Petty by invoking the ironic preoccupations of the Obama era. No one is above all-beef patty with American cheese on a Wonder Bread bun-style rock ‘n roll- NO ONE! My mood flipped of course when they announced that they were visiting from Milwaukee, and it suddenly dawned on me that their whole shtick was genuine. They weren’t mocking Tom Petty fans; they were card-carrying fanatics themselves! I will never harsh on anyone for keeping flame of Wisconsin party-rock forever furnished. Platinum Boys poured out every ounce of charm they could squeeze from the sweat of their brows and left it all out on the stage. Godspeed, you Pabst-fueled Mustangs, ye men of cheese curds and Vikings slaying valor!
By midnight, the show was three acts in and the crowd had grown restless and eager for something heavier. After the adrenaline burst of Hitter and the High Life shot-gunning soundtrack provided by Platinum Boys, the audience was primed a heavier, uglier offering, and Oozing Wound delivered. Crashing into their set with little acknowledgment of those about to witness it, they somersaulted into their opening songs including material off their latest release, “Tween Shitbag.” “Tween” is a brick hurled in the face of feckless culture industry types who thrive by aggregating content on Twitter or paying people who are inexplicably vapider then themselves to be pictured with products on Instagram. A message relayed with the aid of trash-compactor riffs and a groove that simulates tripping face first over the banister of a stairwell. Even with a strong start, Oozie's set didn’t really kick into top gear until they rolled into “Bury Me with My Money,” a frantic, Motorhead-indebted man-trap of fraying guitars and imploding grooves. After dipping into cuts from off 2015’s Earth Suck, there was no force on this plain that could tame them. Their early material is a comfortable furrow for the band to lean into and once they do the hypnotic pull of their repetitious sludgy-thrash chords becomes irresistible. This is, of course, not a dig at their newer material, especially not “Surrounded By Fucking Idiots” (which their lead singer Zack Weil reassured me is not directed at the clientele of the Empty Bottle) and “Birth of a Flat-Earther,” the former of which feels like being sucked into an airplane turbine, while the latter slowly squeezes the space between your ears in the same way mountains are crushed in the gravitational compression caused by colliding planets. Forget what you know about party music. Oozing Wound is the best, worst time you will have this winter!
High Anxiety is out now via Thrill Jockey.
Girl K / Fran / Engine Summer
Girl K / 📷 : KPL
So many records have been coming out of Chicago these first three months of 2019! It’s a real whirlwind of releases that just hasn’t let up. And local indie rock standout Girl K has joined the fray with their newest effort For Now. We hit Schubas last Friday for the album’s sold-out release party, which kept us all smiles and good vibes for days after. Kathy Patino’s enthusiasm is infectious, and the homemade decorations and general positivity that she exuded was more than the venue could contain.
CCS favorites Engine Summer started the night off right with a set of tunes old and new. (Their new record Indiana is set to drop next month, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store!) Sporting his trademark hat, guitarist Jeremy Marsan hung out on stage before their set to do some last minute pedal fiddling and tuning as drummer Ryan Ohm and bassist Ben Kostecki took their places. Never ones to shy away from banter, they fired one liners at eachother and the crowd before launching into their off-kilter, engrossing indie rock. Ohm laid down the foundation that Kostecki walked through and under. His groove-filled lines cruised along, as Marsan flew over the top of it all with a post-rock influenced style that filled the gaps and created a layered sound that just plain worked. Make sure to keep an eye out, as their album release party should be announced any day now.
A project of the talented Maria Jacobson, Fran has been gracing Chicago stages for several years now. Mixing a bit of dream pop with a psych folk core, she has been perfecting her sound since we saw her solo last year. Their heady and lovely tunes were the perfect segue between the raunchiness of Engine Summer and the introspective indie rock of Girl K. Jacobson’s gorgeous, lilting vocals filled the small room to perfection, and her band added a solid foundation that helped the tunes coast along side her trademark looseness—a looseness that is on full display in her latest EP from 2017, More Enough. You can catch her at The Hideout on April 6th opening for Ethers. Tix are $8.
The main event was approaching, and the crowd squeezed in at the front trying to get as close to Kathy Patino and her band as possible. (Her band being Kevin Sheppard on guitar, Alex Pieczynski on bass, and Ajay Raghuraman on drums.) As Girl K finished their check, Patino stepped to the mic a chorus of yelps and screams that welcomed her and her unmistakable, bashful smile that she carries everywhere. They tore through their new record For Now with an urgency that suggested that they were on a mission, only stopping for a thank you speech that laid out the litany of people who had, in some fashion or the other, helped on the record. Highlights “Speed Racer” and “So Strange” showed off Patino’s range. And “Red Static” got the crowd going as a mosh pit formed during the upbeat tune. Soon enough, they ended the evening with last year’s stand-alone single “Dog Year Lungs.” It still amazes how she manages to channel her youthful energy (she’s only 19) into mature and accessible indie rock that hits in all the right ways. You can catch Girl K again when she opens for The Slaps’s EP release party at Beat Kitchen on April 26th. Tix are $8
Album Release and Exhibition
Curated by Jovan Landry
Synergy Chi / 📷 : NBL
Arriving at Columbia College’s Stage Two, the room was spacious yet filled with artwork and illustrations made by various female artists. Colorfully dressed people from all walks of life excitedly explored the artwork as they waited to see the women of Synergy perform. Fans of the all women collective were greeted with art, food, and good company courtesy of Columbia’s Black Student Union. Everyone was talking amongst themselves and getting ready for the show to begin, including the performers who were exploring the artwork and conversing with friends and colleagues.
Everyone’s attention transferred to the stage as the show began. The MCs opened and introduced the event, host, and DJ. Before the women of Synergy joined, the MCs started jamming with the DJ, singing hip-hop songs, and ramping up the room’s energy. Off to my peripherals a break dancer came up ready to dance. A break dancing competition ensued as other dancers jumped on and off the stage, trading places. The crowd cheered on the b-girls and b-boys, pumped and now effortlessly sending their energy on stage to support Synergy. Artists and audience equally electrified, the MCs introduced the women of Synergy, explaining the importance of the message these women want to relay onto not only their audience but global listeners as well.
Curated by Jovan Landry, Synergy is the first all-woman collaboration in the history of hip-hop. Landry’s message is simple - women are powerful producers and it is time they receive their earned recognition. Synergy pays homage to women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and walks of life. They also honor veterans with a dedicated album skit.
As a venue, Stage Two allowed every viewer to see each and every performer as they entered and left the stage, their power in full view. Each artist who took the stage has played a part in this conscious project, including collaborators Glitter Moneyyy, Sauda Muse, Jade The Ivy, Sundé, Tee Spirit, JuJu MinXXX, and Tweak’G. Each entrance was nothing short of jumping onto the stage, launching into their piece of the collective performance, and taking their leave the power of their performance reverberating in the room. Instead of beefs and dis tracks against fellow women artists, the show was filled with love and raw, hard-hitting passion; a definite change of pace in the hip-hop scene.
The energy was immersive all evening. Fans were hypnotized by the performances. The first interlude brought the crowd to a thought-space equal parts calming and reflective- what did it mean to be a woman in hip-hop and in Chicago? This dialogue defined the bar Synergy was about to hit and asked listeners to hold them to this self-imposed expectation.
Between the smooth beats and flow with Jade The Ivy and Sauda Muse in “Under Pressure,” Jovan Landry and Sundé’s “My Girl,”, to the sultry “Lose Control” by Jovan Landry and Tee Spirit, with the very hyper and upbeat “AF” with hip-hop duo Glitter Moneyyy and “A Woman’s Werk” performed by Tweak’G and JuJu MinXXX, the album release grabbed the audience’s attention and did not let go.
DJ Silent Hype mixed the next song as Jovan, Glitter Moneyyy, Sauda Muse and Jade The Ivy bounced through “Synergy Cypher Pt 1.” Cheers erupted and the hype rode an open flow between the audience and the stage.
The women of Synergy are engraving their own names into hip hop history. Each track is packed with empowerment, enabled through the love, support and friendship that drips off each verse and collects in your soul. .
As the women ended their performances and took a well-earned bow, I looked back to see inspired and impressed faces, well aware they just witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony of a new path in the world of hip hop. The artists of Synergy began a movement, a movement where women can contribute their talents, on their own platforms, curated by women.. You can buy and listen to Synergy here, in support of a local hip hop collective bound for the stratosphere.
Post Animal / Bunny
Post Animal / 📷 : JWB
As much as Goose Island would like you to think so, “312 Day” is not an actual holiday. However, it is a day to celebrate Chicago along with the live music venues and cultural centers the city has to offer. And what better place to spend the celebratory evening than at The Empty Bottle grooving to two of Chicago’s premiere up-and-coming acts. Post Animal’s rabid fanbase sold out the show weeks beforehand, and quite a few of them showed up early to take in indie rock darling Bunny.
Jessica Viscius quietly commands the stage, and even though they have had a really tough go (see this article in These Days for more info) they still bring it every damn time. Bordering between bedroom and dream pop with a flash of nineties alt rock, Bunny hits that accessible sweet spot while never giving up their indie cred. While they only have a few recorded tracks available, their live catalog feels quite extensive, and they ran through quite a few excellent tunes from it. Joined by her sister Alexa on bass, Shane Prewitt on drums, and Tim Makowski on guitar, Viscius stood defiantly centerstage and plunged headlong through the set, stopping only for a few moments of banter. After what they have been through, it’s a relief to see them playing out once again and taking a shot at putting themselves on the indie rock map. Next up they are opening for Ohmme at Sleeping Village on April 27th. Tix are $12.
The crowd was nearly foaming at the mouth by the time Post Animal had finished sound checking. They eased into their first tune and it grew to a peak, and the frenzy increased right along with it as the mass that was their audience began dancing as one. The local boys blew the lid off the Bottle with their mixture of prog, pop, and psych rock. They stayed tight while still feeling loose and light, rarely venturing into extended jams or experimentations that can alienate some audiences. With their trio-guitar attack of Jake Hirshland, Javi Reyes, Matt Williams, they really got the tunes going as they ran through a good amount of last year’s When I Think Of You In A Castle. All the while, the rhythm section of Wesley Toledo (drums) and Dalton Allison (bass) kept the quintet grounded and focused. Mixing the ideas of sixties and seventies rock with the jangle and influence of today’s indie rock, Post Animal is a beast on the rise who have only just begun to reach their potential. They are hitting the road, opening for Twin Peaks in May, but we are hoping to see them headlining a few street fests this summer.
NEWS & NOTES
Lollapalooza made its lineup announcement this week and it’s shaping up to be a decent year. Maybe we’ll try to skip on over to Grant Park the first weekend of August- we haven’t done that in years! Check out the lineup and if it tickles your fancy- all levels of tickets are now on sale!
Waldos Forever Fest also announced its second year lineup this week. (Right outside Dispensary33 on Clark and Argyle in Andersonville.) The 4/20 extravaganza will feature New Orleans bounce Queen Big Freedia as headliner with Chicago artists Tatiana Hazel, Mystery School, White Mystery, and Akasha in support!
Lots of SOLD OUT shows this week that are not included here
THURSDAY March 21st
CupcakKe / DJ Taye / Haiku Hands @ Thalia Hall 7:30PM doors $18
Rhone (Single Release) / Sough / Ikaray / Tideshift @ Beat Kitchen 8:30PM $8
Sam Trump’s Acoustic Audile @ California Clipper 9:30PM $5 cover
Faraway Plants @ The Hungry Brain 9PM FREE
Oh Pep! / Naia Izumi @ Schubas 8PM $15
Das Body / Sports Boyfriend @ The Hideout 9PM doors $8
FRIDAY March 22nd
Varsity / Pool Holograph / Stuyedeyed / Rookie @ Thalia Hall 'In The Round' 7:30PM doors $12
Star Tropics / LOVELORN / DoubleSpeak / Taught Abroad @ Subterranean (Downstairs) 9PM $8
500 Miles To Memphis / Avantis / Red Francis @ Cobra Lounge 9:30PM $5 ($8 doors)
Jeff Tweedy Annual Benefit Show @ The Vic 8PM $75
Summer Camp on the Road: Alabaster / Zoofunkyou / FuzzLove / Stormy Chromer / The Bank Notes @ Martyrs 8PM $10
Metric & Zoé / July Talk @ Aragon 7PM $48.50
SATURDAY March 23rd
Logan Square House Party: Derrick Carter / John Simmons / My Boy Elroy @ Logan Square Auditorium 9PM $10 ($15 doors)
No Men (LP Release Show) / Rad Payoff / Evening Standards @ The Hideout 9PM doors $8
Jerry Paper / Healing Potpourri / Curt Oren @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $12
Summer Camp on the Road: Gazebo Effect / Downers Groove / Frequilibrium / Illy Wonka & Friends / SJOD @ Martyrs 9PM $10
Wynchester / The Moonlight Pickers / Bryn Rich @ Subterranean 6:30PM $10
SUNDAY March 24th
Juice Cleanse (Album Release) / Bloodhype / Gloss Coats @ The Hideout 7:30PM doors $7
The Gooch Palms / WÜLFPAC / Bric-A-Brac DJs @ Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $8
Little Miss Ann Band @ Chop Shop 11:30AM $8
Smino @ House of Blues 7PM $27.50
Red Sun Rising / Goodbye June / Dirty Honey @ Bottom Lounge 6:30PM $15
Sean McConnell / Caleb Elliot @ Schubas 8PM $10
Tobe Nwigwe @ Thalia Hall 7PM door $25
MONDAY March 25th
Dan Rico / Vamos / Rich Jones @ The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors FREE
Methyl Ethel / Iverson / Ruins @ Schubas 8PM $15
TUESDAY March 26th
Ry X / Charlie Cunningham @ Thalia Hall 'In The Round' 7:30PM doors $20
Jerusalem In My Heart / Angel Bat Dawid / Ben Shemie [SUUNS] @ The Empty Bottle 8:30PM doors $10 ($12 doors)
Blaqk Audio / Silent Rival @ Lincoln Hall 8PM $20
Knox Hamilton / Brother Moses / August Hotel @ Subterranean 8PM $12
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats / Graveyard / Demob Happy @ The Metro 7PM $29
WEDNESDAY March 27th
TEEN / Akenya @ The Hideout 9PM doors $10
The Knees / Billy Moon / The Hazy Seas / New Drugs @ Burlington 8PM Cover
YOB / Voivod / Amenra @ Thalia Hall 7PM $30
Beta Radio / Whitacre @ Schubas 8PM $12