Fernando, Erick, David and Luis Arias of The Avantist gather in their parent’s Hickory Hills’ basement which doubles as a rehearsal space. Erick, Luis and David set up behind their instruments as Fernando teases them for always running to their security blankets. The eldest brother sits in a folding chair and chipperly points out how he doesn’t need to hide behind an instrument.
Without missing a beat, each brother sends out a rebuttal concluding that Fernando isn’t behind an instrument because he doesn’t know how to play one. Bickering and insults continue to pass back and forth. It’s brutal and ruthless, but as any sibling knows, it’s all meant with love. Within seconds the room erupts with laughter as they prepare to share their journey on what brought them to these “security blankets” and how they’ve used them to grow with each other.
One of the best things about the Chicago music scene is it isn’t dominated by a single genre. On any given night one can hear the soulful groan of a blues band, the twang of an Americana banjo or the pulse of a hi-hat in a modern jazz tune. And sometimes, one can even hear all those things on the same stage. This was the case (though a different representation of genres) on Friday, February 12th at Martyrs’; a night featuring three local bands with three different sounds.
The night started with some progressive folk rock provided by Doug Shotwell & The Right Hand Band. While Shotwell is a Virginia native his “right hand” men are mainly made up of Chicago jazz, blues and rock musicians. Together the group crafted a sound rooted in soul with smooth slide guitar lines and a constant steady push from the rhythm section. On the surface, the songs felt simple, giving them a laid back, easy-to-listen-to vibe. But underneath there were layers of complexity which helped differentiate the songs from one another. It also helped keep the music from sounding too run-of-the-mill or twangy.
Hailing from the Southside of Chicago, Railway Gamblers is a predominantly Americana four-piece consisting of vocalist and guitarist Brendan Folliard, guitarist Matt Fricks, bassist Joe Sexton and drummer Sean Wilmsen. After the success of their first album Heart of the Sun the boys have once again partnered with engineer Mike Hagler of Kingsize Sound Labs to record their second full length album Shadow of the Moon, which is set for release in early January 2016.
Funk is just fun, plain and simple. It’s got to be one of the most universally appreciated genres of music. Even the most reserved people seem to struggle resisting the urge to get down and dance when the funk is hot, and some of the hottest funk Chicago has to offer is from Nasty Snacks.
The nine-piece group opened up In The Loop Productions’ Perse as Funk showcase Thursday, December 17th at Martyrs’ with a high-energy set of original music and soul covers of groups like Earth, Wind and Fire and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. Christmas lights and decorations lined Martyrs’ spacious interior, and Nasty Snacks played a perfect song for the occasion. Christmas songs can be sort of sappy, but the band did a rendition of Vulfpeck’s “Christmas in L.A.” that spread holiday cheer without breaking the upbeat mold cast by the rest of the set.