Imagine performing as a solo hip-hop artist, relying on nothing but vocals and backing tracks, when suddenly the show promoter announces the backing tracks have failed. At this point, there’s two options: walk on the show or recruit musicians from the night’s bill to back the performance.
Nearly six years ago when this situation happened to emcee Dhan Dee, he choose the latter; opting to share the stage with guitarist Chad Wynes and drummer Kyle Voivodas. Artistically, Dee had nothing in common with Wynes’ and Voivodas’ band. Dhan Dee was a poet, rapper and lyrist. Waynes and Voivodas were folk rock instrumentalist. Having never met or rehearsed, the three musicians took advantage of the serendipitous moment, having no idea it would lead to the creation of one of Chicago’s leading genre-mashing projects; Chicago Loud 9.
Band dynamics are a funny thing. As much as we’d like to believe our favorite bands are the best of friends on and off stage, that’s often times not the case. However, every once in awhile, a band comes along whose members genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
The level of comfort and admiration is apparent as soon as the three members of The Inventors gather around a small patio table outside of a Starbucks in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Even with a show only a few hours away, their nerves seem at ease; an odd feat for such a new band with only two recorded singles and a drummer with less than a year of playing experience. Nevertheless, the boys hold their poise. They’re confident the show will go over well.
“Even though I’ve only been playing drums such a little time, we kind of know each others’ tics,” explains drummer and lead singer Joe Mango on why the band feels such ease on stage. “If someone is speeding up or they’re about to end, we know.”
Wouldn’t it have been great to spend a week of your childhood learning to be a rock star? A real, bona fide rock star with the necessary skills to not only play an instrument; but also to record music, promote a show and play a kick a$$ set.
Well luckily for the kids of today, Girls Rock! Chicago, a nonprofit organization, is offering just that with a variety of programs for girls, transgender and gender nonconforming youth.
There is no lack of rock bands in Chicago. The alternative airways are filled with electric guitars and growling vocals fighting to be heard. They fight for the same audiences, and more importantly, they fight for the same shows. In theory, one would think this competition would create a rivalry, but the boys of Heavenfaced swear the scene is filled with nothing but respect and healthy competition.
“We all, as bands, have the same goal. We want to [make music] for the rest of our lives, but there is never that point in time where I would say ‘oh, they didn’t deserve it,’ or ‘that should have been us,’ says bassist Zac Wesoloski. “We all drive each other and I think healthy competition just creates great music versus creating grudges or bad blood between anyone.”
These feelings may not be mutual for every band clawing their way to success, but Heavenfaced proves their love by spending more time raving about friends’ bands than they do discussing their own achievements. Compliments and high praises for their comrades are tossed about their StoargeMart practice space. They can’t get enough of I Made You Myself’s new single “Blunderbuss” and love catching shows from Tiny Kingdoms. They are so happy for Ghost Key signing with InVogue Records and advice from The Howl is always appreciated.
The sound of Chicago. That’s how vocalist and poet Mykele Deville describes his music. Grounded in the DIY scene, the art is fueled by collaboration and sprinkled with thoughtful lyrics over the beats of friends and local artists. But it’s not just the musical implications that describe Deville’s music or the idea of Chicago’s sound. It’s the voices of protestors. The cries of outrage. The tunes of the streets. It’s everything that the city stands for, music and all.
With two full-length albums and a third before year’s end, Deville has explored many social and cultural issues from race to injustice and personal acceptance through poetically crafted songs and poems. Not only does Deville shine as a musician, he is also a successful poet and actor splitting time between continuous shows and his upcoming role in the U.S. premiere of Octagon by playwright Kristiana Rae Colón.
And that’s just the work of 2016.
The lights are lowered in a back room of Music Garage with only a faint glow projecting from the back wall to illuminate the faces of Chicago’s alternative pop-rock group, Even Thieves. Vocalist Adrian Day removes his cap and pulls on the hood of this gray sleeveless hoodie, walking from wall to wall, microphone in hand, as the rest of the band prepares for rehearsal. Slowly, each member falls behind their instruments; Vincent DePierro on guitar, Jeremy Atwood on keys, Tyler Leninger on drums and Joseph Paul Chouinard on bass. A spot among the members remains open for guitarist Olivia Garza, who was unable to make rehearsal.
Each member silently acknowledges one another, signaling their readiness before the room erupts with sound and commotion. This may be only a rehearsal, but to an outsider, the performance is as riveting as any legitimate concert.
A few years ago, two friends and avid music lovers, Charlie Greengoss and Adam Victorn, sat in a basement spinning vinyl while watching YouTube videos. What started as an average night turned into a business venture after viewing a performance of Brand New’s lead singer Jesse Lacey covering Modest Mouse’s “Trailer Trash”.
Prior to playing, Lacey spoke of his admiration for Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse; what it meant for him to cover the song and how honored he would be if given the opportunity to collaborate with the band in some fashion. In awe of the admiration for a fellow musician, Greengoss and Victorn discussed how they could bring local artists the opportunity to collaborate with other bands.
This insight was the spark that ignited Vinyl For A Cause; a record label focused on raising money for charity by releasing limited edition vinyl of bands and musicians covering each other’s music. The next day, Greengoss and Victorn started on a business plan and three years later, they’re now ready to record and release their first records.