Entitlement and Economic Injustice: Same Shit, Different Dudes

I’ve spent the past couple days meaning to write a follow-up post to my essay on Calvin Johnson’s shady business dealings/probable personal shadiness. Teenage Hotdog‘s tireless reporting on K Records’ longstanding pattern of ripping off artists had finally gotten the attention of The Stranger, which has since caught the eye of Pitchfork and The AV Club. Melissa’s cool and funny and I’m so proud of her and grateful to have made her acquaintance, so I wanted to say something to congratulate her on talking loud enough for long enough that the menfolk finally listened.

And Here We Are Again

But as I sat down with my half bottle of convenience store wine to pen that article, I caught the post on Facebook saying that Michael Gira (“Oh yeah the dude from Swans”) had raped Larkin Grimm while they worked together on her record in 2008, then had fucking dropped her from his label when she finally called him out on it years later. She hasn’t been able to sign to a new label since, so that’s been awesome for her career.

This, of course, comes on top of last week’s news that Kesha would not be released from her contract with Sony and would have to continue making albums with her rapist or face a financial penalty.

And that’s the point I wish I’d addressed more fully the first time around. When shady-ass dudes control access to money or power or prestige or press in your profession, you are stuck dealing with them on their shady-ass terms. People who are not in positions of power are forced to accommodate people who are. If you don’t go along, you might not work again. If you go along but later speak out, you might not work again. The deck is stacked against you, even without a public eager for a way to prove you’re at fault.

As Jessica Hopper said, people tend to blame the victims in these situations, saying that by not coming forward sooner, they have allowed a cycle to perpetuate. But the cycle perpetuates itself every time we give a shady dude a pass, every time we say “he’s always been nice to me,” every time we decide to keep giving him our money because we really like his work.

Reasoning vs. Reality

As a society, we seem to want to separate social issues and economic ones, but the two are intertwined (Melissa Gira Grant just published an excellent discussion of this idea in the context of feminism). You can’t live a fully actualized life in a capitalist society without some access to money, so any action that causes an economic harm also has potential consequences for a person’s health and well-being, and any fight against injustice that ignores economic reality is failing to see the big picture.

When a man feels entitled to someone else’s labor, money, body, emotions, etc., and when he holds the person’s career hostage in order to get what he wants, an injustice is being done. This person has now been forced to sacrifice their physical, financial, or emotional well-being (often all three) for some dude’s fucked up sense of entitlement. He is benefiting from their labor, while they are subject to increasingly high costs of exiting a situation they never even wanted to be in.

Instead of being sympathetic to people whose livelihoods are threatened, we have a tendency to discount their experiences, believing the situation couldn’t really happen in a just world. Americans tend to equate success with morality, believing the person who has more is more deserving, which makes an uphill battle for anyone facing abuse from someone in a position of relative power or status. And that’s not the only problem. Other research suggests people who regard themselves as being in a position of higher status are actually more likely to do morally questionable things and believe their own actions are justified.

When our brain flips into internet detective mode because “something doesn’t seem right” about a situation that’s terrifyingly common, it may not have anything to do with the situation itself. Instead, it’s the result of underlying psychological assumptions that uphold systems of power and privilege.

Moving Forward

As rational people, we may want a burden of proof or a line in the sand, but too often we are causing actual harm to another human being with these demands. While we wait for enough evidence to justify changing our behaviors or beliefs, a person remains stuck in an untenable situation while we deny support.

We are also perpetuating the cycle, so we can also play a role in stopping it.

Even as accusations of violence, abuse, and economic injustice in the music industry become distressingly common, we can still envision a better world. We can stand up for the humanity of every person in our scene. We can give our money to people who have been disadvantaged by assholes and an uncaring system and we can direct our support away from those who perpetuate injustice.

Thankfully, the initial responses I saw to Larkin’s post about Gira’s abuse were mostly positive. Major music news sources picked up her story and some even related it in a way that suggests they might believe her. The backlash is still unfolding, so I may regret this early optimism. But with the continued pressure to #freekesha and other small gains we’ve seen as of late, maybe the arc of music fandom is finally bending toward justice.

It’s hard to resist the call of a just world where the people who make the things we enjoy always do good. It’s not always practical or easy to vote with our feet and our wallets. But if we believe in making the world better than it is, we can try our best to keep calling out bullshit and keep standing behind the people who do.

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Smokers’ Circles & Squares: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Eve 6

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately building a list of bands I want to see and cool parties I want to attend as I prep for SXSW next month. I’ll be sharing all this on the blog over the next couple weeks, so if you are into standing in a backyard in Texas with a cold beer, rest assured we’ve got you. But all this obsessive planning and feeling kind of on the ball has got me thinking about the way I got into music to begin with, which was decidedly not cool.

One of the things I love about SBS is that we’ve never been about proving we knew everything about punk rock before you first popped Snoopy vs. the Red Baron into your off-brand childhood Walkman. In the spirit of this, I wanted to share a piece I recently read at the “Mixtapes” night of Miss Spoken, Chicago’s decidedly non-dudely live lit event, about discovering the joy of mixtapes and slowly learning to be cool with loving what I love.

I’m 16 years old, leaning forward in the backseat of Lindsey’s extended cab Ford F-150, shouting over the wind and The Bloodhound Gang, hair and sand and cigarette smoke blowing in my face from the lowered front windows as we drive the smokers’ circle. Lindsey teases Amber about hooking up with her boyfriend in Lindsey’s truck outside a high school dance (never leave your car unlocked), Amber teases Kristen about wanting to get with the high school English teacher, and everyone teases me about how the high school English teacher really wants to get with me.

You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals

The music sucks and I have dirt in my teeth, but I’m so happy to be along for the ride.

As a self-proclaimed outsider, there aren’t many teen bonding experiences I can fondly recall, having sworn off drinking, smoking, drugs, team sports, and church as early as 8th grade. But circa 2000 in rural North Dakota, driving in a 4-mile square around our hometown offered a temporary escape from its confines, so I constantly found excuses to stay in town after school and drive around listening to mix CDs.

Honestly, I really didn’t even care about making mixes at first. At 15, I’d boldly declared that I “didn’t like music,” meaning I was super into that one Harvey Danger song but it hadn’t occurred to me that the rest of the album might also be good (still one of the biggest regrets of my life).

But gradually, I found myself pulled in, experimenting with loud music in place of booze or drugs or DIY safety pin piercings.

Let’s go, don’t wait, this night’s almost over, honest, let’s make this night last forever

Due to the lack of radio stations or record stores or really anything in western North Dakota, we turned to piracy on our parents’ computers, giant beige boxes barely running Windows 98, pulling songs from Napster or Kazaa on a 56k dial-up connection.

They’d dropped thousands of dollars so we could one day be at the cutting edge of technology with lucrative dot com careers, but instead we trolled Yahoo chat, played virtual pinball, and burned CDs featuring the kinds of alternative radio hits the reservation station sometimes played after 10 pm: stuff like Everclear, Blink 182, and Green Day.

I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby, like you

Through the teenage dirtbag internet, I found more punk bands, bringing The Ramones, The Misfits, and other such classics into my friends’ mix CD pool. Throw in Nirvana and Weezer (my music nerd friend’s favorite bands), and of course my crush’s favorite band, Rammstein, and you had a passable soundtrack for my fondest high school memories: frantic 100 mph drives down the two-lane highway to Williston (usually for something incredibly dumb, like showing of Joe Dirt), or the time we stuck flavored condoms filled with silly string to our band director’s windshield (in the winter, so they’d freeze), or the trip to Minot where we drove around shouting Du Hast while wielding a piece of rebar out the car window (we’d found it in a junkyard while Lindsey was trying to buy parts for her AMC Javelin from a shirtless dude whose intentions seemed suspect), or all those nights we stayed up until 4 am forming our plans to get out for good.

As anxious as I felt about my lack of musical knowledge or taste in subsequent years, I regarded that time fondly–we’d made the most of what was available and had cobbled together some pretty great times.

Of course, memory is fallible. Nostalgia glosses over the rougher edges of your past, leaving succinct 5-paragraph nuggets of triumph without all the awkwardness of your actual life.

In college, I discovered indie rock (literally by typing it into google), then struck gold with my purchase of Cathy’s Comp Cassette at a thrift store in Bismarck, which caught me up on classics like The Smiths and The Cure. God bless you, Cathy, wherever you are.

Around this time, I came back for Homefest or some summer holiday and completed the familiar ritual of piling into a car with my sister Lisa and her friends, the new keepers of the stoner-nerd alliance we’d formed to make high school bearable for kids who didn’t play sports.

I cringed a little as a Flogging Molly song came out of the speakers and cringed more as the teens started bouncing along. “Oh wow, I haven’t heard this in years,” I said. “Whose CD is this?”

The driver replied, “Oh yeah, Emily, I think this mix is one of yours.”

Not old or new but middle school, fifth grade like junior high

Flogging Molly rolled into Bouncing Souls and NOFX and then two Green Day songs in a row and god knows how much Eve 6. SO MUCH EVE 6. I sank lower into my seat as they quoted lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Fight Club and SLC Punk, air drumming, giggling maniacally, and passing around some new flavor of Mountain Dew–something like Code Red or Live Wire–all red-mouthed and sugar high. Not exactly the crew of badass rebels I remembered us being.

I’d already decided most of my high school experience was garbage. Were my fond memories terrible too?

I wanna publish zines and rage against machines

Fuck a butte Fuck a butte, anyway

Shortly after this visit home, I left North Dakota for good, heading off to grad school in Ohio and then a job in Chicago, expecting to be glad to put the past behind me. An important lesson from English class: Jay Gatsby never went back to North Dakota. You can be the person you want to be as long as you completely bury your past.

Except as stifling and uncool as hometowns can be, now that I’ve left, I find myself looking forward to visits back. My last trip home for the holidays involved getting a group of old friends together for a game night, daring each other to do shots of this disgusting “shimmery liquer” called Viniq, and catching up on the new rounds of local gossip (that English teacher is married now and has a kid). The night ended with the whole group singing Weezer songs in my sister Jamie’s kitchen.

“I’m a lot like you, so please, hello, I’m here, I’m waiting” has unexpected resonance when it comes from someone who used to (completely correctly) rib you for thinking Atlas Shrugged was a really good book.

I think I’d be good for you and you’d be good for me

viniq Robitussin’s glittery cousin

Really, the inside of most of our heads probably resemble Weezer’s garage, full of comic books and role playing games and bad movies and stupid jokes. A realization that can horrify the way Weezer lyrics horrify: I loved this and it’s really, really, really bad. But embracing our whole, dorky, pretentious, clueless, teenage dirtbag selves can be liberating too: who you are and who you used to be don’t have to be secrets to bury. You can be cool without being mysterious, and sometimes the awkward weirdos turn out okay.

Swallow my doubt, turn it inside out, find nothing but faith in nothing

Recently, on a road trip to Memphis, I asked Lisa to put on something fun as we bombed down I-57 in our tiny rental car. So we listened to the first two Eve 6 albums in their entirety. I still knew every word. And, guys, I felt like a total badass.

Check out Miss Spoken the last Wednesday of every month at Gallery Cabaret or visit miss-spoken.com. Check out my twitter feed for an absurd number of Eve 6 references.

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Creepers, Rumors, and Due Process in Punk

A friend DMed me a link to a Facebook post a few days ago.

Kimya Dawson had made a public post about shit she saw going down for years in the scene in Olympia. Bands getting ripped off by a beloved label, allegedly to the tune of half a million dollars, with several commenters also alluding to creepiness toward young women at shows and parties on the part of the label’s head. All of this bad behavior had been ignored by the scene for years, with people going as far as to ostracize anyone who had pointed it out publicly.

(Teenage Hotdog is doing an excellent investigative piece on this, which I encourage you to read. I’ve linked the most recent post.)

Now Kimya and her friends were making these secrets public. Or at least trying to. In response, my friends and I passed the post around via direct message, debating whether we should still go to the guy’s show at a DIY space next week.

You may notice I’ve named the victim of financial wrongdoing here, but I haven’t named the alleged perpetrator. This wasn’t an intentional move, and it’s illustrative of some internal fuckery in how we process accusations: tacitly, unconsciously, we are willing to give famous (“indie famous”/”local famous”/”I went to high school with him and he seemed so nice”) men the benefit of the doubt in every accusation of wrongdoing.

So we say:

Calvin Johnson–I fucking love Beat Happening–is playing a show on Saturday, rolling with a trunkful of K Records merch and god I wish I wasn’t so broke right now. Hey, did you hear what Kimya said about him? Do you think it’s true?

If he had less cred, if he hadn’t done things that we valued, would this be the story? Or would it be more like:

I heard that Calvin Johnson owes people money, is a real dick about it, and has maybe been using his cred to creep on young girls. I know he makes good records, but dude kinda sounds like a toxic force in the Olympia punk scene. And we don’t even know the money for the records he sells is going to the bands. That’s fucked up.

When someone has stature, we flip from “jeez, it sounds like a pain in the ass to do business with him, is that what I want?” to some Law & Order version of due process: we have to hear both sides and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the rumors are true.

This is you right now, reading this.

Safe Spaces v. Due Process

Complicating things further, the DIY space he’s playing endeavors to be a safe space, designated by the Feminist Action Support Network as a place where “oppressive or harmful behavior is not welcome.” They state: “oppressive behavior includes any action that perpetuates racism, misogyny, heterosexism, transphobia and other systemic oppressions through antagonism, silencing, intimidation, or coercion.”

Setting aside the more troubling rumors for a second, one doesn’t exactly have to be a feminist scholar argue that a label run by a man not paying artists their fair due in a timely manner, especially artists who belong to historically disadvantaged groups, is oppressive behavior. And if this guy has other accusations piled on top of that, it’s not unreasonable to assume he might not be the best fit to play a feminist safe space.

But in the nature of due process, the folks who booked the show reached out to Calvin after the opening band Plus Sign saw Kimya’s post and dropped off the show. The Pinky Swear team released the following thoughtful, measured statement:

We at Pinky Swear have decided that we will be hosting this show. This decision was reached after much thought and discussion in regards to Kimya’s post and the comments that followed.

We made Calvin aware of what has been said of himself and K on facebook and felt that this conversation was missing his voice. With his permission to post here, Calvin says: “We do owe Kimya some back royalties and have a payment plan in place. She has expressed some dissatisfaction; it and we offered to renegotiate but have heard nothing back from her since.”

We take no sides in the situation and recognize that financial harm was done to Kimya. However, both Kimya (in the comments of her post) and Calvin state that there is a process of accountability/repayment in place at this time. It sounds like it is not perfect, but is being addressed and commitments have been made. Of course we empower folks who have questions for Calvin to (respectfully) bring them up in-person at the show if they choose.

In approaching this decision we looked to the feelings, writing, and actions of fellow community members. We take the responsibility of running a safer space very seriously and our obligations to our friends and community here are of the greatest importance to us. The primary wrong expressed by Kimya was financial, however, we do recognize that there were a range of accusations expressed on Kimya’s thread and have given those consideration as well. At this time and to our best knowledge we do not feel that it would be a threat to the safety of attendees to host this show.

Some folks have brought up the role of Feminist Action Support Network in influencing the decision to host or not host this show (as a FASN designated Pistachio Level Space). It should be made clear that this particular situation/resolution is not in the scope of FASN, which is an organization that works to address sexual and gendered violence in Chicago. We made this decision as an autonomous venue, however this decision is not being made in spite of or without the principles of the wonderful work that FASN does. We will have FASN Support Liaisons present at the show.

Thank you for your patience and of course, the conversation is always open–reach out privately or post below.

So Pinky Swear did their due diligence, heard both sides, decided the payment plan Calvin had offered Kimya (after legal action was threatened, to the exclusion of other artists affected) constituted an accountability process, and that the other rumors expressed in the comments did not rise above rumors. [Note: Kimya has clarified that this payment plan only covers a fraction of the artists owed money–she chose to speak out because other people continue to be ripped off.] While frustrating, this is a respectable show of impartiality in the face of a difficult question. They know it’s ambiguous and they left the conversation open. They’re obviously really good people struggling with a really tough issue. But does that make a space safe?

As far as an outside observer can tell, everything troubling has now been addressed and there’s no wrongdoing to worry about. It’s easy to assume that because you’re not hearing about something, it isn’t happening.

Kimya Dawson shouldn’t have to fight to get paid for her work.

Rumors v. Accountability

2015-16 seems to be the time for brave women and trans* and non-binary people to speak out against harassment, assault, financial wrongdoing, and more of the bullshit they face trying to exist in a music scene that is dominated by men who feel entitled based on their success. We praise oppressed people for coming forward with their stories and effecting change, but usually the moment we finally listen and believe comes only after years of vague rumors, whispered warnings, and DMed links to FB posts.

So those of us weighing the decision to go to the show on Saturday are left wondering: Is Calvin a missing stair or just a guy who got overwhelmed by success, picked up some haters, and is trying his best to do what’s right? Despite the handful of recent, high-profile gains we’ve made in believing marginalized people who speak out, we still live in a culture that goes out of its way to protect famous men at the expense of everyone.

This hyperextended benefit of the doubt does a disservice to marginalized people trying to chill at a show that’s supposed to be fun in a space that’s supposed to have their backs. It does a disservice to fans who want to know whether the person whose art we’re buying is engaged in ethical behavior. It’s not even really helping the people who do shitty things, as we enable them to toss out their humanity and help feed their belief that their actions are beyond reproach. Instead of members of the community calling them in the first time we see messed up behavior, they’re given permission keep operating in the same garbage ways for years. Eventually, they either sort it out on their own or (more likely) there’s no option left but to call them out and cut them out of our lives when their victims finally come forward en masse. Nobody wins in that scenario, but it’s the one we keep repeating.

By giving our heroes a pass on problematic behavior because we like their work, we’re creating unsafe spaces, feeding a culture of silence, incentivizing further bad behavior, and denying the possibility of accountability and growth in our communities. Can you imagine anything less punk rock?

The Art v. The Artist

This dilemma is by no means unusual in DIY scenes. Jes Skolnik pointed out on Twitter yesterday: 


As Jes says, it is easier to believe that someone simply engaged in the capitalistic end of music is a bad guy. When it comes to someone who makes art that you love and helps promote artists that you love, it’s harder to believe they could do good work but also do bad things. We identify with their work and their taste, so we want to give them a pass.

Cupcake has written about the problems involved in separating the art from the artist. In this case, it’s particularly hard to ignore wrongdoing and just keep going to shows and buying records, since the issues are literally his behavior at shows and what he does with money from record sales. But because the full extent of what the artist has done is unknown, we perform this weird mental math: is x thing bad enough to never buy his records again?

If this were a perfect world, I’d have some truth bomb to drop at the end of this piece that would better settle the question: an outspoken victim or a compelling origin story for the rumors, one where amends have been made and it wasn’t as bad as all that. But it isn’t a perfect world. And we don’t know the whole truth. As Teenage Hotdog said, it’s hard to investigate vibes. As they continue digging and soliciting comment, we might get a definitive answer, or at least a large enough collection of stories that the “dun dun” sound finally plays.

But we may also have to live with the uncertainty and decide how we feel: do we trust our hero is a good person because he likes the things we like? Or do we by default believe that someone who is called a creep is probably a creep? How do we navigate rumors when safety is at stake?

Cupcake has made some important suggestions for ways we can work to spruce up this garbage world and make safer spaces, but many of the implementations so far have focused on instances where the situation is clear. We can run it through our internal court of law and spit out a clear verdict and an appropriate response. But does that still leave us potentially complicit in more ambiguous cases? What is our obligation when we just don’t know the whole story?

Do we go to the show on Saturday?

Do we keep buying K Records?

Do we pass the story along?

[Editor’s note: this post was updated to better clarify the financial issues between K and assorted artists. Please check Kimya’s post and Teenage Hotdog’s article for fuller details.]

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Emily’s Weekend Pop Picks: November 20-22

As you can see from the SBS Show Calendar, we’re officially moving into winter and the onslaught of awesome shows to try to shoehorn into your week has slowed a bit. Before you pull out the fuzzy blanket and Remembrance of Things Past (or whatever giant book you’ve been totally meaning to read) to settle in for the whole damn winter, stop and check out all the cool things that are still going down. Like the US Postal Service, neither snow nor sleet nor sold out shows will keep Store Brand Soda from sweating profusely in our parkas in a basement all winter long. I’ve got some show picks for the upcoming weekend here and Cupcake has an abbreviated list of must-see shows for the rest of 2015 over at Do312.

coles flyer


Friday, November 20

Mitski, Palehound, PWR BTTM
I’ve known about tonight’s STACKED lineup at Beat Kitchen forever. I wrote about Mitski at this year’s SXSW and Palehound was also a SXSW discovery a few years ago. But like the US Postal Service, sometimes I’m just super slow at getting to things, so I totally snoozed on tickets. Happily for these 3 kickass bands, the show is now sold out, but maybe you’ve already got tickets or have a friend who is bailing because of a few snowflakes. If you can get into this one, do it. And please have all the feelings for me.
Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont Ave
8:30 pm / $12 adv / 17+ / SOLD OUT

Fuzz, Walter, Oozing Wound
If you read the above description and thought “the opposite of that” then you probably want to be at the show at Thalia Hall tonight. This was probably already on your radar, but just in case it wasn’t, here are some key words: Ty Segall, garage rock, hard rock, metal. Also sold out, but again it’s supposed to start snowing around 9 pm and you know your friends aren’t going to want to go all the way to Pilsen if there’s weather involved. Start tweeting about how you’ll take an extra ticket and just see what happens. No weak pits, okay?
Thalia Hall, 1807 S Allport St
9:00 pm / $15 / 17+ / SOLD OUT

Dumpster Babies, Fuck Knights, Fire Retarded, The Evictions
Speaking of no weak pits, Tall Pat Records dumb punks Dumpster Babies are headlining another stacked bill of local rock ‘n’ roll at The Empty Bottle. To make it even more killer, 3 of tonight’s bands are featured on the latest 4-Way Freakout cassette, celebrating its release at tonight’s show. Plus the Bottle’s got coat hooks so you can bundle as much as you need to heading to this one and still be comfortable and cool when you go to dance.
Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western Ave
9:00 pm (9:30? 10? The Bottle does what it wants) / $5 / 21+

Mauve, Principality, Star Tropics, Pale Spectre
I’ve written about Star Tropics before and they are still one of my favorite Chicago bands/pop bands/things existing in the universe right now. They’re also playing a free show at Cole’s with Mauve, who are doing a really nice psychedelic/electronic thing, and two Minneapolis bands, Principality and Pale Spectre. The song on Principality’s bandcamp is some straight up 80s goth jam so if you’re moping about missing out on Mitski tix, I think this might be your vibe. And it’s free. Hard to argue with free. I will be at this one so come say hi!
Cole’s Bar, 2338 N Milwaukee Ave
9:00 pm (lol probably 10) / Free / 21+

unicorn fest

Saturday, November 21

Beach Slang, Lithuania, Worriers
I’ve seen Worriers 3x this year and I’m not 100% sure we’ve mentioned them yet on Store Brand Soda. Maybe Cupcake fixed this mistake already, but I’ve definitely fucked up. So let there be no doubt: Worriers are awesome. Pop punk for people with feelings and politics and actual complicated lives and stuff. I know that everyone into sad punk is also all over Beach Slang, but Worriers are the band on this bill I am most enthusiastically evangelizing in 2015. Also sold out, so if you have tickets for this one, don’t be a dingus and just see the headliner.
Subterranean, 2011 W North Ave
8:00 pm / $12 adv / 17+ / SOLD OUT 

Peach Fuzz, The Peekaboos, The Landmarks, Electric Sheep, Nomar
There’s a pretty rad show happening over at Club Soda Saturday night with The Landmarks in town from Michigan and locals Peach Fuzz, The Peekaboos, Electric Sheep, and Nomar also on the bill. I have been into The Peekaboos since like 2011 though I haven’t yet seen them with the latest iteration of their lineup. Super fun sloppy shouty, hooky, garagey Chicago punk. I haven’t caught Peach Fuzz yet but lately they’ve been popping up on all kinds of bills I’m into. Based on their Bandcamp, they’re the kind of local rock band I want an infinite supply of. If you’re bummed you missed Friday’s Mitski show, come check these folks out.
Club Soda
7:30 pm (but probably hella punk time) / $5

Pinky Swear Return of the Unicorn Fest
Okay like I’ve been to Pinky Swear and I have literally no idea how seemingly every musician, artist, poet, and performer in the universe is going to fit into that basement, but I’m on board with the process. This all-day event kicks off with some low-key tea-sipping posi vibes and ambient music at 10 am, followed by an increasingly energetic celebration of the unicorn from 2:30-11 pm. Check out the Facebook page for more context. It sounds like an experience.
Pinky Swear
10:00 am / $5-10 

EGO, Jollys
Hey look another local rock show! EGO are newly back from tour and playing a free show at Cafe Mustache with Jollys.
Cafe Mustache, 2313 N Milwaukee Ave
9:00 pm / free / 21+


Sunday, November 22

The Landmarks, Minor Wits
If you liked The Landmarks at Club Soda, you can catch them again at their Bric-a-Brac in-store with Minor Wits, a local power pop/pop punk group I’m just now hearing about but am kind of super into.
Bric-a-Brac, 3156 W Diversey Ave
5:00 pm / free / all ages / BYOB

Hibou, Bloom, Color Card, Jewel Case
I saw Hibou when he came through town a couple years ago and holy fucking shit. If you are into dreamy pop sounds, if you bought my recommendation of Star Tropics, if you have $12 to spend on a show, check out this band. Come early for this one because the supporting bands also rule.
Subterranean, 2011 W North Ave
9:00 pm / $12 / 21+

Outer Minds, Lil Tits, Strawberry Jacuzzi 
Do you like fun? Do you like supporting essential healthcare services? Then you want to be at the SYA773 Fundraiser for Planned Parenthood at The Empty Bottle Sunday night. All ticket sales from this fucking killer lineup of local bands will go to supporting Planned Parenthood, who you may recognize from their low-cost preventative care, birth control, and STI screening services or from some totally bullshit videos Republican lawmakers are obsessed with. Either way, come rock out and feel good about the work you’re supporting.
Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western Ave
9:00 pm / $8 / 21+ 

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Weekend Agenda: Comics, Books, and Slippery Kingdom Fest

I don’t know about you guys, but it’s been kind of a crazy week over here at Store Brand Soda. We’re ready to just curl up on a couch, hug a dog or a cat, and watch every Keanu Reeves movie we have on VHS. Too bad there’s a utter fuckload of stuff happening in Chicago this weekend.

Friday, May 1


Terror Pigeon / Fee Lion / Richard Album
Hey, remember Hyde Park? You know, one of those neighborhoods that aren’t Logan Square? Well, there’s a totally kickass show going on down there tonight at 8:30. I know, weird, right? And speaking of weird, there’s a lineup of weirdo jams, headlined by Terror Pigeon, who have been my favorite weird kid dance party for 5 years running. Shout along to songs about partying despite your anxiety in a big, sweaty group hug of punk kids. There aren’t many better ways to spend Friday night.
Cobb Coffee Shop, 5811 S Ellis Ave
8:30 pm, All Ages, Free???

Multicult / Moral Void / DEN / Street Creature
Maybe you’ve had the kind of crappy week best addressed through losing your shit at a festival. Lucky for you, Slippery Kingdom Fest is happening all weekend at The Burlington. For $8/night you get 4 awesome bands each day. And it’s sponsored by Revolution, so there’s probably some good beer in there too.
The Burlington, 3425 W Fullerton
8:00 pm, $8, 21+


The Bingers / Slushy / The Uglies / Liqs / Zigtebra
Has your week sucked so bad you’re not even up to seeing new bands? Well, we’ve got you covered with this lineup of local favorites playing tonight at The Dandelion. Wrap yourself in the warm, fuzzy blanket of garage/pop/rock/awesome from right here in Chicago.
The Dandelion, ask a punk
9:00 pm, 21+, Donations Please

Saturday, May 2

You’re a sensitive soul and you love a good book, but you’ve spent all your money on PBR and tapes? Me too! Luckily for both of us, free shit abounds at the confluence of Free Comic Book Day and Independent Bookstore Day.


Indie Bookstore Day at Uncharted
Uncharted Books has our favorite indie bookstore day lineup, in addition to our favorite store dog. Show up early for a passport to collect a free Stuart Dybek story illustrated by Dmitry Samarov. Raffles will happen throughout the day, along with snacks from Dinner was Delicious at 3 pm, a reading from Nathan Rabin at 7 pm, and awesome company and reasonably priced used books all day.
Uncharted Books, 2620 N Milwaukee
10:00 am, Free


Drop-In Comics Workshop
Got a minicomic idea you’ve been working on, but you don’t have the time or resources to get it in print? Stop by the drop-in comics workshop at Spudnik on Saturday for a chance to use their equipment to make your comic happen. Attendees will also have the chance to work together on a collaborative comic.
Spudnik Press Cooperative, 1821 W Hubbard, Suite 302
1:00 to 4:00 pm, $10 Suggested Donation


Dam Gila / Luggage / Michelles / The Symposium / Glyders
After a day of making comics and reading books, there’s no better way to unwind than a music fest! Swing by The Burlington for Day 2 of Slippery Kingdom Fest.Cupcake saw in your show horoscope that you’d go.
The Burlington, 3425 W Fullerton
8:00 pm, $8, 21+


Kangaroo / Sophagus / Shiloh / Bike Cops
Even more broke from buying comics and books all day? Luckily, Cole’s has a free show (and some cheap cans of beer) for you! This is the kind of good time you’ll feel good paying $0 for.
Cole’s Bar, 2338 Milwaukee
10:00 pm, Free, 21+

Sunday, May 3


The Bingers / POST CHILD / Peoples Temple of America / Supreme Nothing / Pet Vices
Close out your weekend with Day 3 of Slippery Kingdom Fest, which finishes off strong with a solid lineup of rock ‘n’ roll. This is your second chance to see The Bingers this weekend, so don’t fuck it up!
The Burlington, 3425 W Fullerton
8:00 pm, $8, 21+

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Weekend Agenda: Wild Times

Looking for an excuse to leave your cave of an apartment on this gorgeous weekend? Or maybe a way to be indoors while every case of cabin fever in the city pours onto patios primed for bad decisions? We’ve got you covered, bro.

Friday, April 17

wild society flyer

The Wild Society, Ag47 Annual Showcase
Tonight, Ag47, a rad local arts collective that mentors girls ages 11-17, is putting on their annual showcase in Logan Square. There’s a $10 suggested donation and tons of cool art will be for sale. Come see what the youths are up to and support girls’ creativity and awesomeness.
3249 W Diversey, 2nd Floor
AA / $10

Check Facebook for more info!

Clearance / The Velveteens / The Hecks / Blizzard Babies
After you’re all amped on supporting local teenage art, what could be better than a good pop show? Head over to The Burlington to catch Blizzard Babies, one of my favorite local bands, playing along with Minneapolis indie pop group The Velveteens, and local pop rockers Clearance and The Hecks. This is like the perfect Emily Day.
The Burlington, 3425 W Fullerton
21+ / $10, $12 at door

Saturday, April 18

Duh you already know it’s Record Store Day Saturday. If you’re anything like everyone else we know, you’ve probably already mapped out your route based on special release 7″s, Record Store Day beer collabs, or the availability of coffee and donuts (if not, please see Sei Jin Lee’s tweet below).

If, like me, you slept on this whole thing until this very second, hoping that maybe your laziness would protect you from buying even more records, here’s a list of free in-store shows tomorrow. Harmless, free shows…happening near piles and piles of records (please help me I have a problem).

bric a brac

Bric-a-Brac Record Store Day Block Party
8:00am Free coffee from The Wormhole and free donuts from the Doughnut Vault
12:00pm Lost Lake opens with a special cocktail for the day, the Bric-a-Braquiri
1:00 pm Bands start playing! I didn’t round up set times (sorry), but here’s the order:
Gentleman John Battles
Son of a Gun
Proud Parents (from WI)
Tweens (from OH)
Bric-a-Brac Records, 3156 W Diversey
Free / BYOB

Check Facebook for more info!


Saki Record Store Day In-Stores
1pm – Cheap Girls (acoustic)
2pm – Advance Base
3pm – Oshwa (Alicia solo)
4pm – Sleeping Bag
5pm – Supreme Nothing
6pm – The Sueves
Saki, 3716 W Fullerton
Free / BYOB

Check their website to learn more!


Permanent Records In-Stores
Free Dark Matter coffee and snacks!
4:30 – ADT (American District Telegraphy)
5:30 – Clearance
6:30 – buckinghampalaceSVU
Permanent Records, 1914 W Chicago
Free / BYOB

Check Facebook to learn more!

Lauries POS

Laurie’s Planet of Sound In-Stores
Laurie’s Planet of Sound, 4639 N Lincoln
Free / BYOB

Check Facebook to learn more!


Reckless & Revolution Hand Over Fist Release Party
Bands, beers, and the potential for free tokens/drinks with receipts from your RSD purchases!
Emporium Wicker Park, 1366 N Milwaukee
Free / 21+

Check their website for more!

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Why We’re Not Boycotting Indiana

One of the things we’ve been looking forward to all winter here at Store Brand Soda is tubing the Tippecanoe River in Indiana. Recent legislation in Indiana potentially puts a kink in that plan: if the dude driving the dilapidated old bus pulling canoes and inner tubes decides he doesn’t want to take some cool queer kids tubing, the state of Indiana will back him up based on religious freedom.

Some left-leaning folks have called for a boycott of Indiana to pressure the state into overturning this law. Shakesville has an amazing rundown on why this is not really helpful or cool, along with some suggestions on other ways to be supportive of queer Hoosiers. Below are some things we are planning to do. READ MORE

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