American Grizzly bassist Marty Funk and guitarists Jack Doyle and Dennis Wilson rumble about their Pilsen rehearsal space with their friend and photographer Tim Nagle. With only a few weeks until the release of their third EP, a self-titled folk-rock compilation out on February 14, the Chicago-based rock band works to finish their album photo shoot.
They’ve hung a tapestry along one of the ways directly over a wooden piano. To the left are two amplifiers. To the right, a white electric guitar. The scene feels vintage; a perfect old southern rock setting, but what really sets the vibe is what’s front and center: a lamp with a cowboy boot base. The look is laid back and in a way may seem out of character for American Grizzly, but Funk, Doyle and Wilson explain, the music found on their new EP American Grizzly is as genuine as the rock-infused tunes fans are used to.
Monday nights in the middle of November are often dreary, but thanks to performances from Two Sets of Eyes and Gazebo Effect on Monday, November 13 at Tonic Room, this particular night was more than just tragic cold and rain.
The night kicked off with the progressive rock trio, Two Sets of Eyes. Having had their first performance only a month ago, it’s evident the band is new to playing live shows together as the three took some time before falling into the groove of the show. While the band may be young, the musicians are well-seasoned artists with a great sense of musicianship over their respective instruments. They ran through songs from their upcoming self-titled debut (out November 25). The vocals on a few of the songs were rough, but most of the pieces where instrumental heavy, creating dynamic arcs with guitars and synth. A standout tune was “Sunshine, You’re Standing in My Sunlight”; an eerie and almost psychedelic instrumental piece that builds around an ear-bending synth melody.
It’s rare to find a band with a kickass guitarist who understands the art of soloing. What’s even rarer is finding three such guitarists on a single stage as part of the same band. Each guitarist from the nights’ second band, Gazebo Effect, shared lead duties and did an amazing job coloring the songs with intricate riffs throughout. Not only did the band exhibit amazing guitar lines, the rhythm section, as well as the vocals, were superb. The band played the songs from the 2017 EP Turtle Rock, with a standout piece being “Laraway Drive” as it encompasses everything the band does right from killer guitar riffs, steady rhythms and catchy choruses. Aside from providing a rich sound, Gazebo Effect’s stage presence exhibit passion and energy without overdoing it.
Two Sets of Eye’s next performance will be on Saturday, November 25 at Quenchers Saloon.
Gazebo Effect’s next performance will be on Friday, January 26 at Co-Prosperity Sphere.
One of the upsides to attending an art college as a dedicated artist is being surrounded by other talented individuals who are willing to indulge in creative projects. It’s a great place to build working relationships, and sometimes those relations grow into solid professional structures. As Savanna Dickhut and Julian Daniell of Elk Walking share before their performance at the SubT Lounge, it was a chance meeting during college that pushed the two songwriters to pursue a career in Chicago’s music scene.
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.”
Some bands think it’s best to solidify a following in their home city before embarking on a cross-country tour. Other bands find cramming three bandmates, a sound engineer and a considerable amount of musical gear into a van the best way to weed out the weak. The latter explains the mindset of Tony Aguilar, Cody Varga and Steve-o Gonzalez, the trio behind The Wistful Larks, who have recently returned from a twelve city tour less than a year after recording and releasing their debut EP.
Now that they’ve proven they can tolerate each other at each other’s worst, the three are working toward a collection of new goals, including a 6-song EP and more regular shows in their home city of Chicago.
Varga and Aguilar share their story:
This week may mark the release of Kristina Cottone’s debut EP Bow, but as the lead singer of the soul-rock band Honey & the 45s, Cottone is no stranger to music. She has countless experience playing major stages and opening for national acts such as Andy Grammer in Chicago’s Grant Park, but that doesn’t stop Cottone from nervously jittering as she reminisces about her first solo show in New York this past weekend. She playfully laughs about squeezing the hands of her two best friends while riding the subway to her gig; a giddiness that hasn’t seemed to be put to ease quite yet.
“One of the reasons I did the show in New York is because playing completely alone scares me,” says Cottone.
For the first time in her musical career, Cottone is holding the pressures of the show on her own. She’ll be taking the stage on Friday, March 3rd for an official release show at Uncommon Ground. And while Cottone may be reasonably terrified, she’s clearly excited and proud of her new endeavor as she sits down with Listen Live and Local to share her adventure.Continue Reading
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.