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Review Mon Jul 27 2015

Wicker Park Fest - Sunday in Review


More people crowded the modest-sized streets of Milwaukee Avenue for Wicker Park Fest Sunday than the previous day. As the festival went on, the bands sounded a lot harder, especially with the headliners Deafheaven and Veruca Salt. Whereas Saturday had a fair share of R&B, hiphop, and indie rock, Sunday had a lot of cinematic sounding bands, with explosive drums, driving basslines, and emotive vocals.

Many of the day's bands are often prefaced their music stylings with a "post": post-hardcore, post-rock, post-grunge. Regardless, many of the bands set the tone with big guitar sounds throughout the day before the mammoths of Deafheaven treaded onstage.

But with thousands of people and alcohol at a free music festival came with a bit of crime. A gang-related shooting outside a 7-Eleven occurred after the festival on Saturday, a fight broke out on Sunday near the same store, and a few storefronts were vandalized with graffiti and had their glass windows broken.

Lazyeyes played in the afternoon with dream pop. They sang with light vocals and lyrics, at least when compared to the other bands that day. They have a pop-aesthetic, as a band later in the afternoon like Restorations has a more nervous edge. Restorations have attributed this to their coffee drinking habits--they tour with Chemex coffee sets. And their vocals carried dire seriousness, yet their lyrics can be heard with a heap of self-deprecation.


The bands this evening were not entertainers, per se, but their performances were nonetheless entertaining. Many of the day's musicians seemed to play in order to release themselves. Though they weren't playing blues-based music, there was a spirit of Blues in their songs. The Velvet Teen, for instance, with their atmospheric sound under layers of synths, seemed to bellow and cry instead of sing. (But there were times when the singer could whisper a melody into the mic, too.) Their bassist and drummer locked in rhythm, often looking at each other, playing each beat with conviction. Judging based on the audience, they are a band for people with glasses to especially rock out to.


After playing for a bit, Chicago rapper ShowYouSuck asked the audience, "Rap is pretty cool, right guys?" He's a clown without the makeup, and instead of making animal balloons he brings replicas of pizza on stage. He asks people to pull out their phones for his song about flip phones, and, when someone cheered with flip phone, he exclaimed, "You fucking rule!" He quotes Peter Parker's uncle in Spiderman while talking about karate chops. He debuted a new song where he repeats, "Fuck that diet, eat some pizza."

If the Ramones are sniffing glue, then ShowYouSuck is eating pizza. With Sunday's lineup, ShowYouSuck was like the comic relief in a Shakespearean tragedy.


On to more explosive sounds: three-piece The Life and Times sang with ethereal vocals, and yet played so loud that the crowd began dispersing away from the stage. Their post-hardcore sound had space-rock elements, and with their tight rhythm section some songs felt like a march of triceratops. With all the atmospheric bands that day, they played with heart and, especially, with attitude.

It's probably difficult to escape comparisons to the post-rock giants Explosions in the Sky when playing instrumental guitar rock. This Will Destroy You, however, used varied song structures. They don't wait until they can build and release a climax in their songs. In this respect, they're experimental even within a pretty experimental music genre. Nonetheless, many of their songs feel like a calm before the storm, filled with guitar arpeggios and layering over the same sections.

The Soil & the Sun is seven piece group from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The size of their band rivals Broken Social Scene, their harmonies float like Fleet Foxes, and their songs sound like Grizzly Bear or the Dirty Projectors. Their songs maybe lighter in texture, thanks to plenty of strings and piano, than most of the bands; they're not dense, and yet they're complex and layered.

Nineties grunge band Veruca Salt played on the far side of the festival. They released a new record this month, and their singer had contributed to the Smashing Pumpkins, including on "Bullet with Butterfly Wings." On the other side of the festival, a bit later into Veruca Salt's setlist, Deafheaven played black metal for people who are averse to metal.

They performed songs off of their 2013 release Sunbather well into the night. With plenty of shoe-gazing and ambient sounds, Deafheaven doesn't play sad or angry music in spite of their metal connotations--they play cathartic music. And maybe this is the lesson of this Sunday at Wicker Park Fest: music does not always need to sound happy to be meaningful. The bands that day, outside of ShowYouSuck's stage antics, affirmed this with guitar theatrics and cinematic timbres.

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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
Pop Matters
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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