While Lollapalooza brings the famous and not so famous bands in to Chicago in droves, the after party to be at was at the Subterranean. Saturday night of August 4th, the small yet mighty Wicker Park bar/music venue showcased three bands. Ballroom Boxer by way of Akron, Ohio has a style similar The Gaslight Anthem with subtle hints of Arcade Fire. According to their Facebook page they are, "...what you get when you drop the Great Gatsby, Johnnie Walker & fireworks on the Fourth into a blender." Their set was enjoyable and fun to dance to.
The next band up was Sybris. With a rockin' female singer, Angela Mullenhour, this band created a wave of sound that encapsuled the slightly more crowded Subterranean. The atmospheric tones emanating from guitarist Phil Naumann were captivating. The shy, yet talented guitarist never once looked at the crowd, but his presence was unmistakable and imperative to the band. The bassist, Shawn Podgurski, was the comic relief that the band desperately needed as he was the only one who seemed comfortable interacting with the audience (although he could stand to take a few bass lessons.)
(Photo taken from band's myspace)
Closing the night, was the Big Pink. The Big Pink has been one of my favorite bands since their debut three years ago. I have always made it a point to see them when they come to Chicago. "A Brief History of Love", their debut album, was a revelation. Seeing them play it live was even better than hearing the recording. Their performance at the Subterranean was less than stellar, and here's why. There is no doubt that the band is moving with the times and has added a house music/DJ vibe to the set, and this was disheartening. I was a fan of them being a band. You know, the old drums, bass, guitar, and singing. This time around they were not the familiar band I have grown to love. Milo Cordell, the patchman and DJ took the stage with a small gracious wave, clad with a Chicago flat-brimmed hat. Robbie Furze grabbed his guitar, and the new drummer, Victoria Jean Smith, was eating an apple. Really?? An apple? You couldn't have eaten that thing in the past three hours when you were back stage? You had to take that thing with you? Not very rock and roll to me at all. That aside, she has some serious drum chops. They mixed their songs on stage adding out of key sounds and effects that just bothered me. I wanted to hear "Velvet" played straight, as that song is so pure. But alas, the integrity was gone. Robbie worked the crowd like a true frontman, taking on a new rapper-like persona sans guitar. It was great to see them in such a small venue, but next time, I hope they stick to what made them in the first place.
A loving fan