Live Review: Secret Bad Boy (5/26) @ The Empty Bottle

On May 26, Secret Bad Boy played their first hometown show at The Empty Bottle, opening for Chicago’s Parent and London’s Happyness. The Chicago stop took place toward the end of their week-long tour in support of their new recordings.

The members of Secret Bad Boy are undeniably talented, featuring a variety of recording members from successful musical groups such as Vulfpeck, Mild High Club and I Fight Dragons. Fronting the electronic punk band on vocals, guitar and keyboard is Chicago’s Ben Joseph of Ezra Furman and His Boyfriends. While the recordings of Secret Band Boy feature a number of musicians, including Ezra Furman, the live trio features drummer Mat Roberts and bassist Paul Cherry, a group of young men whose professionalism and musicianship on stage are equally matched between each member.

There’s a very distinct sound to Secret Bad Boy. The instrumentals from song to song are aggressively punk with an overlay of old-timey vocals from Joseph. There is something in the way Joseph sings, especially in slower tempos, that has a touch of crooner; full yet intimate. Combined with front-and-center keyboard lines and scratchy vocal effects, it’s like listening to a classic punk tune off an old time record.


Secret Bad Boy is one of few bands whose live set actually sounds better than their recordings. Part of that has nothing at all to do with the actual sound or instrumentation, but with their ability to work a stage. While it was hard to see much of Roberts behind a tower of amps, both Cherry and Joseph did an exceptional job of utilizing the stage and upholding the energy of each song.

Secret Bad Boy’s next show will be on Thursday, June 15th at Schubas. The night will also include performances by Jennifer Hall and Daphne Willis.

Leave a Reply