Chicago Roundup: Rock n Roll Bands to Know
A look at some of the best in Chicago’s music scene
by Katie Ingegneri
I was going to position this as another Houseshow “playlist,” but given that I haven’t yet taken the time to figure out how to set that up for my loyal readers in any useful way, and that most of these are Bandcamp links, this is more just a who’s who of a bunch of the rock n roll (& garage & punk) bands I currently follow around Chicago. I’m really excited about all these super quality bands and ecstatic to live here in such an amazing, accessible music scene. Chicago is truly the place to be.
This edition leaves out Chicago bands I’ve previously talked about for now in order to open up the field (and showcase more of the vast, infinite fangirl love I have for all good rock bands), but be sure to go back and check out American Breakfast, The Rubs, Twin Peaks, Modern Vices, and The Orwells if you haven’t already. Let’s do this!
The Bingers have occupied a special place in my rock n roll fangirl heart since the first time I saw them play at the DIY venue Dandelion in Logan Square. The Bingers play with experienced confidence and precision in their sound, mixing retro 50s rock n roll with the brash energy of garage punk, so basically everything I’m a sucker for. They’re also a good-looking trio, comprised of the Appert twins, Ronnie and Teddy, and Jack Callahan, so word to the ladies and dudes who appreciate good looks as well as sounds. They’re opening soon for surf rock legend Dick Dale, a testament to the authenticity and energy of their sound. Never turn down a chance to see them live if at all possible.
Recommended Track: “Cheetah High Heels,” featured in forthcoming movie “The Adderall Diaries” starring James Franco! #chicagorepresent
It seems only appropriate that a band fronted by a pretty, tall, all-American blonde girl is called The Uglies because irony is all our generation knows. But seriously, the lovely Kat Louise is a sweetheart who is also the proprietor of DIY venue Dandelion, and leads The Uglies with a sultry retro sound and unique voice that reminds me of The Walkmen if they were led by a lady. Check ‘em out and thank me later.
Recommended Track: “Things Only She Has”
Liqs (no longer “The Liqs”) are a band that you should absolutely keep your eye on. Comprised of Nick Van Horn, Sergio Stryker, and Esteban Miranda (the three best names for dudes in a band ever?), these kids have a kind of Nirvana meets Deerhunter meets Mac Demarco vibe and it’s so fantastic. One of the opening bands for Twin Peaks at the Metro back in January before the Peaks went on their never-ending tour, I first saw them at Dandelion and was seriously blown away, and now I can’t wait for their debut album cause it’s gonna be fantastic. Watch for an interview with Nick and Sergio coming soon to Houseshow!
Recommended Track: “Take Me Home Tonight”
Flesh Panthers are the beloved punk rock boys of the scene, blending catchy rock melodies with major punk thrashiness and attitude. I first saw them when they were the “secret special guest” headlining the Dumpster Tapes Monster Compilation release party this winter at Cole’s (also the first time I saw The Rubs and American Breakfast!) and found myself drunkenly moshing with the crowd (something I don’t always do) and having so much fun. I tried to see them again at Parts & Labor recently but their show got shut down by the cops before I got there, pretty punk indeed. Their new album, “Ngc 2632,” is fucking awesome. It hits harder than straight rock n roll without getting too far into overly aggressive punk, and I can’t get enough of it. One of these days maybe I’ll see them when I’m relatively sober, but that seems unlikely.
Recommended Track: “47 EyeballS”
Ah, The Symposium. If you’re not listening to them yet, well, you’re missing out. Mario Cuomo of The Orwells posted about them on his Facebook last fall when they released their double EP “Drugs,” back when I had zero conception of the music scene around here, and I instantly fell for their early 2000s-style indie rock sound echoing my favorites like The Strokes and The Unicorns. I saw them open for The Orwells on the first night of their two Lincoln Hall New Year’s Eve shows and learned that they were hometown friends of theirs from Elmhurst. It was a fateful night for me when I came out specifically to see The Symposium play at the Empty Bottle on a cold night in mid-January, the first time I saw Mario again after our interview — he introduced me to bassist Benny Goetz, who in turn told me to come out to his house to see them play again with another Elmhurst band called Modern Vices — which would become the night I would say Houseshow was born. So, I have a soft spot for these guys: Charlie, Sam, Benny and Brian. Can’t wait to hear what they put out next.
Recommended Track: “Half Life”
The Walters! I’m not actually sure if any of them are Illinois natives (as far as I know they’re from Wisconsin and the East Coast) but they’ve become a part of the Elmhurst/Chicago scene with The Orwells, Modern Vices, Twin Peaks, and The Symposium. With rock n roll veering on the poppy, smooth side, Beach Boys-style, they’re a grooving good time, with frontman Luke Olson always putting on a fun show. They’re poised to blow up big after recently signing with Canvasback Music, the same label as The Orwells!
Recommended Track: It’s not on their Bandcamp, but I can’t stop listening to “Hunk Beach,” their recently released single from Canvasback — find it on iTunes and Spotify! (And the EP “Songs For Dads” is fantastic too.)
I actually haven’t gotten to see these guys live yet, but they have a really tight and energetic post-punk rock n roll sound. Lead vocalist and guitarist Jack Simborg was attending Berklee College of Music back in my homeland of Boston before dropping out to return to Chicago, which is a historic route to reaching musical success (see also: John Mayer, Melissa Etheridge, many others). A collaborator with many local bands including members of Twin Peaks, I’m looking forward to seeing what Jack and his dudes do next, and I’m definitely excited to see them play some live shows around town.
Recommended Track: “Mind Movies”
Hey! What are your favorite rock n roll/garage bands around Chicago? Hit up Houseshow on Facebook and let me know what I’m missing!
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