Chicago is known as the home of jazz, punk and hip hop, but the Americana talent in this city is just as strong and well-developed of a genre. This notion was apparent through the performances of three semi-local bands at Subterranean on December 10th during a night of folk and Americana presented by Harmonica Dunn.
Thursday night’s show opened with Chicago folk band Midwest. Aesthetically the band was a picture perfect model of folk, filling out the stage with orchestral strings, acoustic guitars and an occasional tambourine (not to mention the physical adorableness of each member). Their hauntingly beautiful lullabies showcased the near pitch perfect harmonies between vocalists Heather Bodie and Nicolette Fendon. Paired with the violin, upright bass and pared-down drums, the music had a rustic element, perking the ear for a backwoods sound.
While not from Chicago, the Wisconsin based trio Dead Horses still deserves a nod of recognition. Of the bands throughout the night, Dead Horses had the most traditional folk sound. Their music, while clearly instrumentally complex, was an easy listen with the northern twang of Sarah Vos’ vocals underlined by the steady bass of Daniel Wolff. While each musician was clearly talented, guitarist Peter Raboin stuck out with impeccable riffs and rhythms. The intimate group led with their passion as they turned into a circle during instrumental breakdowns, playing off each other’s energy in true jam band fashion.
Headliner, Wild Skies, kept the night’s momentum going with their modern twist on traditional folk. Their lyrics and instruments were artistically blended, telling stories through catchy melodies.
The lyricists’ vocals balanced well. While Kristine Sorum-Williams was a soulful powerhouse, guitarist Aaron Lechlak sang with an effortless breeze. Together backed by bassist Tommy Good, keys player Spencer Adamson, and percussionist Andy Kearns; Wild Skies delivered a near flawless performance and perfect end to a night of true Midwestern folk.