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Review Mon May 14 2012

Review: A Concert Gets "Dastardly" @ Subterranean, 5/10/12

The Subterranean was packed Thursday night with fans of three diverse bands, as The Dirty Feathers, The Shams Band, and Dastardly all played sets. What I like most about the Subterranean is how intimate a venue it is, where the space is small but comfortable. Everyone enjoys the music together like they're in the company of old friends, dancing and swaying to the music. Chicago-native bands The Shams Band and Dastardly co-headlined the show, where comedic and obscure antics played out as The Shams Band and Dastardly set out to resolve their longstanding "battle."

Opening up the evening was Chicago-local band, The Dirty Feathers. Hailing from Champaign, their sound is gritty and bold, with electrifying guitar solos peppering their set. Frequently the lead singer would wail emphatically as Wolfmother-esque guitar riffs ascended in the background. This five-person ensemble is well on its way to perfecting their Southern grunge rock sound, and were a great way to start off the show.


Photo by Tiela Halpin


Photo by Tiela Halpin

The first headliner of the evening, The Shams Band, proceeded to take the stage, and their set proved that they are a musical force to be reckoned with and one that will demand attention in the future. The musical style of the five-member group is versatile, as it frequently bounced from blues, to rock, to pure country and folk. The energy they brought to the stage transferred directly to the audience, as crowd members could be seen tapping their feet, dancing, and even two-stepping to their songs. Their sound is light and carefree, plus, they have tons of Chicago pride. I mean, how could you not love a band that has lyrics that say "you dream of California and I dream of Chicago?" With a warm thank you and toast to the audience as they took a group shot of whiskey, they ended their set for a musically-satisfied audience.


Photo by Tiela Halpin

Dastardly was the third group to take the stage. In all of the concerts that I have seen, I never would have thought that I'd see a band's lead singer emerge onstage wearing a Hawaiian shirt juxtaposed with gold spandex leggings as he crooned out Americana country folk ballads, until it happened Thursday evening. Due to a bribe Dastardly frontman Gabe Liebowitz accepted insisting that he wouldn't find an outfit for a mere $11, Liebowitz emerged in the wacky outfit I mentioned previously. Their set allowed them to interact with The Shams Band and settle the score of their drawn out "warfare."

I think Liebowitz's outfit perfectly articulates the identity of the group: be as unique and eccentric as possible, and have that originality work to their advantage. This manifests in their sound, which is Americana at its core, stemming off into lyrics with subjects varying from insecurities to downtrodden travels through the state of Missouri, and even to stream-of-consciousness lyrical poems (See: "Dirtnap (Uncouth Hillbilly Gets What's Coming To Him").

Their set coupled old crowd favorites with many new Dastardly ballads, with Liebowitz's comedic banter and conversation with The Shams Band interspersed amongst the set. Highlights included "Fever," during which the group's harmonies were perfectly in sync, "Crystallized," which showcased band member Sarah Morgan's vocals, "St. James Infirmary," and "Brief Thoughts on Death," which got the crowd moving as it presented Dastardly as polished and on their game.

The show came to a conclusion as Dastardly invited The Shams Band to join them onstage for the outro of their song "Jews Don't Go To Heaven," where they reconciled their grievances, seemingly for good. The concert was unconventional and entertaining, as it brought diverse musical groups together for one heck of a show.

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Myles / May 14, 2012 11:10 AM


Boris / May 14, 2012 11:14 AM

"Chicago-local band, The Dirty Feathers. Hailing from Champaign..."


matt / May 14, 2012 11:39 AM

"'Saint Jame's Infirmary,' a new song..."


That hasn't been true since about 1900.

David Gulyas / May 14, 2012 4:58 PM

Don't worry about the St Jame's Infirmiry remark...this is a nice piece of writing, and my only comment to add is that Subterranean is a little LOUD and mixes were more like stadium rock than local club. But, with earplugs (which can be purchased from the bartenders for two bucks) it was all great fun in the end.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
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Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
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Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


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Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
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