Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Preview: Dope Body/Township

Hardcore, Punk No Comments »



The first time I saw Dope Body was when they opened for Future Islands at Lincoln Hall in 2012 and I’ve been enamored with the band ever since. I’ll forget about them for a while, then one of their songs will come up when my iPod is on shuffle, and I am immediately transported back to the pure anarchistic joy I experienced listening to Rage Against the Machine for the first time in my older brother’s purple Mitsubishi Galant. Turn your nose up at Rage Against the Machine all you want, but I pity any reader that doesn’t know this feeling. Read the rest of this entry »

Fierce and Fed Up: Hardcore Punks Find A Home

Festivals, Hardcore, Punk No Comments »
Aye Nako photo by Robert Pluma

Aye Nako/Photo: Robert Pluma

Fed Up Fest, taking place July 25-27, is a new addition this year to the packed Chicago summer music festival scene. In the tradition of fests like Olympia, Washington’s Homo-a-go-go, Fed Up Fest seeks to highlight the contributions of LGBTQ musicians to DIY music, though where Homo-a-go-go covered a wide range of styles under the DIY umbrella, Fed Up Fest focuses on hardcore and punk. Conscious of the problem in LGBTQ spaces of the ‘silent T,’ where transgender community members get name-checked but can often be marginalized, the organizers of Fed Up Fest particularly wish to highlight bands from across the country featuring trans folks—especially trans women. Bands on this year’s lineup include: Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Perfect Pussy/Schubas

Hardcore, Punk, Rock No Comments »


What’s in a name? Perfect Pussy are not the first band to evoke the female anatomy using that particular nomenclature, nor the most shocking, though their use may be the most meaningful. Meaning, truth, honesty, these are the hallmarks of singer/screamer Meredith Graves, who derived the name as an antagonistic form of optimism—a rejection of gender specific self-criticism. Her lyrics follow suit, a platform for feelings on interpersonal relationships, on sex, on internal peace. Confrontation via explicit language is not a new tool for an American artist to employ, yet Graves and company have found themselves on the receiving end of some powerful publicity anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Filmage/Lincoln Hall

Hardcore, Pop Punk, Punk No Comments »


As much as anything else, this is the story of Bill Stevenson. He’s a drummer. And from all the praise dropped at his feet during this newly released ninety-minute film, it would seem that he’s a pretty good one. If Descendents isn’t a familiar name—and it should be—maybe Black Flag summons some sort of recognition. If not, “Filmage” has all the talking heads one’d need to get informed. Keith Morris crops up. Mike Watt, too. And it would seem that Dave Grohl is becoming the new millennium’s Ian MacKaye, replacing that D.C. stalwart in punk documentaries. Watching those famous faces flit across the screen narrating the development of Descendents doesn’t get tiresome, though. The issue with films like this is that frequently the story winds up being more gripping than the music. No pop punk resurrection is set for the immediate future, yet early cuts from Descendents—with Milo Aukerman on vocals—isn’t surpassed by too much else in the music world. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Riot Fest/Humboldt Park

Alt-Rock, Chicago Artists, Emo, Festivals, Hardcore, Hip-Hop, Indie Rock, Pop Punk, Punk, Rap, Rock No Comments »


Thirteen concurrent thoughts that afflict the bystander of a bus advertisement featuring this year’s Riot Fest lineup: I had no idea The Replacements got back together. Can you imagine how many kids will be singing along to Fall Out Boy and Blink-182? Can you imagine how many of their parents will be singing along to the Violent Femmes? Even without Kim Deal, I don’t think I can see the Pixies enough. What I wouldn’t do to see Debbie Harry duet with Danzig. It’s possible that Guided By Voices have written enough songs for at least one to appeal to every single person on the planet. Flavor Flav of Public Enemy may be the greatest reality television star who ever lived. One of the two Black Flag reunion bands is playing, and so is X, making this one of the best punk shows of the year. If you substitute Brand New and Taking Back Sunday in their place, the same can be said about emo. In fact, local pop punk bands popular in the 1990s are so well represented by the likes of Screeching Weasel, Smoking Popes, The Broadways and The Lawrence Arms, as to lend the festival an air of well-honed sophistication. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Die Kreuzen/Double Door

Hardcore No Comments »

05.25 Die Kruezen @ Double DoorRECOMMENDED

We can, and perhaps should, continue discussing the vital bridge between hardcore, whatever it turned into mid-decade and everything that happened in Seattle during the 1990s. And that’s where Milwaukee’s Die Kreuzen comes in. It took the band about two years to turn its 1982 demos into a debut long-player, released through Touch and Go. Issuing a hardcore album so deep into the genre’s development meant the disc would either be buried amid its doppelgangers or point a possible way beyond hardcore’s limitations. Dan Kubinski’s vocals may be the definitive feature allowing for folks to care about all this a few decades on. His determined yowl’s still more metal than Lars Ulrich and the trio backing him was capable of turning a fast tempo even faster. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Earth Crisis/Beat Kitchen

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Back in the nineties when Derek Hess’ art featured prominently on any number of album covers and grunge seemed to need an angry nemesis, a buncha straight-edge types went and upped the musical ante. Displeased with most aspects of the culture surrounding punk and metal, some folks in Syracuse, New York, founded Earth Crisis to function as a mouthpiece for the animal-rights and righteous-living camps. Remember when fights broke out at shows because someone was drinking a beer? Yeah, it was some tough guy who liked Earth Crisis instigating all that. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Fang/Ultra Lounge

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For the remainder of Sam McBride’s life, his public appearances are going to be marred by an incident that occurred in the late eighties. He up and killed his girlfriend, reportedly during a smacked-out frenzy. It’s pretty much impossible to skirt the fact when mentioning his band Fang, which counts as a reasonably important part of the East Bay’s punk and hardcore scene. From the time Fang started laying waste to cheapo recording setups, McBride—or Sammytown as he’s now known—made clear he had a fascination with drugs and warped characters. The beginning of “Red Threat” includes a weird a cappella group sing-along about Charles Manson being God. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Murphy’s Law/Reggies Rock Club

Hardcore No Comments »


Murphy’s Law is, and always was, pretty much Jimmy Gestapo and some guys behind him playing music. Cropping up in the mid-eighties, the band can’t really be considered a trendsetter of the New York hardcore scene. The ensemble, though, should be recognized for taking some of the seriousness out of the genre, which was becoming more codified and stodgy with each passing year. Of course, no band from the era could resist trash-talkin’ the president. So, the 1986 track “California Pipeline” and its closing refrain, “Ronnie Reagan, he’s my man/If he can’t do it, no one can/America rules,” should be understood as a sign of the times and an extension of the band’s ham-fisted humor. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Retox/Township

Hardcore No Comments »


The Locust didn’t seem like it would have the longest life of any skewed hardcore band out there. In part, that was apparent from the group’s schtick—an ensemble dressed up in matching custom-made costumes that make each musician look like a threatening mutant fly can only last for so long. But the music SoCal punk impresario Justin Pearson helped usher in through his time in Swing Kids, then the Locust and now Retox only becomes less tenable through each reinvention. It’s not that hardcore, meted out in the most bizarre time signatures, can get tired. Read the rest of this entry »