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Wednesday, December 13

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Review Mon Nov 26 2012

Review: Rock for Kids Charity Jam @ Empty Bottle 11/25

rockforkids_charityjam.jpgAnyone who feels overwhelmed by Chicago's music scene had the opportunity to hear a nicely curated lineup of some of the city's best bands all in one place last night at the Rock for Kids Charity Jam at the Empty Bottle. It's just a shame that it was the Sunday night of a long holiday weekend because few people were willing to defy the dread of Monday morning to go see some loud music. Seven local bands played, comprising a total of 23 musicians, which very likely made up more than half of the attendance last night.

But that didn't stop Gapers Block, and this reviewer was on hand to provide coverage of as many bands as he could during the Charity Jam's slightly long but solid lineup of Chicago-only bands benefiting Rock For Kids, a local organization that exposes underserved children to music education, creativity, and critical thinking.

While each of the bands showcased last night are "Chicago rock bands" in the broadest category, there was plenty of variation between sets. The impressive thing, and the one that attests most the strength of Chicago's local music scene, is that none of these bands were bad. Some were better than others, but all of them were strong. Here's a brief recap:

Tiny Fireflies
Kristine Capua and Lisle Mitnik of Tiny Fireflies opened the evening with some gentle dream pop on keyboard and guitar, which was fitting for the disco ball slowly spinning and reflecting around the venue. On songs from the band's various EPs to date, Capua's voice channeled Belle & Sebastian's Isabel Campbell in that sweet, effortless way. Capua and Mitnik told me they are working on releasing their first full-length album sometime soon, though there are no details as of yet.

Shiloh
The second band of the evening offered one of the highest points of the night. Last year, Shiloh released their full-length debut, All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers, as a seven-piece that included a small string section of violin and cello. They have since cut the lineup down to four, and the result last night was a much more amplified version of the band's lilting country rock. They call it "scum pop" on their a Bandcamp page, and last night they simply called it "Chicago rock and roll". Regardless, the band played a set of dynamic guitar rock that shifted tempo and volume and rarely stayed in one place for too long. The band focused on songs from its upcoming new album, Mrs., out in January, which touched on tales from the band's childhood home of Northwest Indiana -- or as singer and guitarist Alex Reindl put it, "the Jersey of Chicago."

Massive Ego
After Shiloh, the evening began its slow venture into more dissonant noise with the punkier garage-rock of Massive Ego. The trio of guitar, bass, and drums played a more glamorous kind of rock than Shiloh's, closer to Thin Lizzy than Shiloh might have been to Crazy Horse. Massive Ego's set was unexpectedly varied for a three-piece, though, with songs that had distinct styles and plenty of energy. Perhaps it was the inaudible vocals that ultimately caused their set to become less and less engaging with each song.

The Hecks
In the quickest set of the night, The Hecks made it through maybe four songs of noisy trance-rock that occasionally ventured off into bursts of jangly guitar melody before returning to a steady humming of electric guitar noise. This band's vocals were also pretty hard to hear, and because of the set's brevity, it was probably the lower point of the night.

We Repel Each Other
We Repel Each Other took the noise-rock of The Hecks and pushed it through a rush of heavy-metal testosterone backed by fierce drums and a pummeling guitars. This was a long way from the more melodic first few bands of the night's lineup, but the crowd seemed to appreciate the trio's ferocity.

Panda Riot
Panda Riot offered a return to the dream-pop of Tiny Fireflies, but with a fuller sound backed by a stand-up drum kit, two blistery, distorted guitars, and a bass. The band has recently released a 7" single for "Serious Radical Girls," which is offers a welcome combination of shoegaze and pop.

Rambos
Six bands in, I was unable to stick around for Rambos, but if their most recent album, Rock and Roll Monsters, is any indication, they likely closed the night with the kind of straightforward, classic rock and roll that is only fitting for a Rock for Kids Charity. Rock and Roll Monsters features songs that exemplify the rule-defying freedom of rock music, and the fact that ultimately, rock music can and should be fun.

Chicago's rock music scene is many things, as was on display last night at the Charity Jam. But each of these seven bands does something unique and does it well -- it's a shame that the "kids" of this charity event's name weren't allowed in to see it in action.

 
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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.

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