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: 

twitter.com/modernistwitch/status/689577468869644288

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.]

Read Article →

Monthly Agenda: January 2016: New Year, Same Ole Shit

I know it’s really tempting to spend the next three months curled like a cat around a space heater, but if no one fills venues with wet boots and cigarette-scented wool coats the punk rock fairies die. With no applause to sustain them or flying beer droplets to keep them nourished, there’s no belief in rock-n-roll to keep their twinkling lights from dimming.

Here’s my recommendations of some shows to see in January that will keep the magic alive.

The Glyders, Bingers, Soft Candy
Kind of one of those inoffensive 1960s influenced soft and fuzzy-furry rock kind of bills, should be fun.
East Room, 2354 N Milwaukee
Wed, January 6, 9pm / free / 21+

The Malskys, Not For You, Glamour Hotline, Thanks For Coming
I’ve never been to this venue but I’ve previously expressed my love for earnest, unpolished spooky cool band Glamour Hotline and their vulnerable compositions about girl-on-girl admiration and skater rats.
The Keep UPDATE: MOVED TO THE OBSERVATORY
Sat, January 16, 8pm / $5 donation / byob

Negative Scanner, Walking Bicycles, Beat Drun Juel
Donna of Beat Drun Juel’s focused intensity is what takes their sound past a grungy 90s alt-rock sound into howling aggression. She’s a force of nature; I think I saw a picture of her from Ian’s Party this past weekend playing her guitar with garden shears?
The Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western Ave
Wed, January 20, 9pm / 21+ / $5

Protomartyr, Amanda X, Negative Scanner
This was rescheduled after a member of Protomartyr experienced a family emergency, so if you were holding tickets, make sure this is on your calendar. Protomartyr is the perfect post punk to decend into the throes of a bummer with.
Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln Ave
Sun, January 24, 8pm / $15, 18+

Sleep, Bongripper
Thalia Hall, 1807 S Allport St
Tue, January 26 / 21+ / 17+ / $25 / $30

Sleep, Bongripper
Thalia Hall, 1807 S Allport St
Wed, January 27 / 17+ / $25 / $30

Two nights of doom. Play “who’s vaping weed” on the sidewalk outside between bands.

Chicago Psych Fest VII
I don’t have a ton of knowledge about the more wooly and trippy and noodlier parts of weirdo guitar music, but if you enjoy it, head on over to The Hideout’s website to find out more about the line up of this Chicago tradition.
The Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia Ave
Thu, January 28 through Sat, Jan 30th / 21+ / $10 one night / $25 fest pass

Ne-Hi, Clearance, Dim
This is on my birthday, and you know I ain’t fuck with that Drynuary shit. If the birthday bad bitch deigns to make an appearance please buy them shots.
The Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western Ave
Fri, January 29, 9pm / 21+ / $10

Absolutely Not, Le Tour, Velocicoptor, Strawberry Jacuzzi
Look at all these much loved locals playing a major venue like The Metro together! Cool.
Metro, 3730 N Clark St
Sat, January 30, 8pm $10 Adv. – $12 Day Of / 18+

Read Article →

5 Queer Albums I Loved in 2015

We’re not big on end-of-the-year lists here at SBS. We don’t do top ten lists, or declare an album of the year.

This isn’t a ranking, or a definitive list. It’s just what the title says – 5 albums, released in 2015, that discuss queer themes, whether they be overtly political (the destruction of the cis-sexist patriarchy) or intimately personal (the near-universal desire to find someone who loves you).

I’m already braced for people to say “Why does it have to be 5 queer artists? All that matters is the music, man.” Privileged groups, who don’t have to do anything to gain acceptance, an audience, and bookings besides strumming a few chords, are threatened when the spotlight swings away from them. And marginalized groups are rightly dissatisfied with being herded into a genre ghetto, lumped in with bands that sound nothing like them based on identity.

I could have made this a stunt, stealth list – just say that it was 5 albums I liked. But I’m aware of how the internet works. I, personally, don’t read every piece of music criticism out there, regardless of headline, to find out if it’s something I’m interested in; there’s only so many hours in the day. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where people make snap decisions about what to read based on Facebook link previews, and I wanted people who need these albums, who would relate to them, to find them.

This is a celebratory list, with everything on it from twee pop to hardcore punk. Queer and trans artists made some incredible art in 2015. We think you should listen to it.

Kt Spit – Combluotion

KT Spit first came to my attention through her now-deleted Tumblr and the above collaboration with Samuel Shanahoy, the modern-day John Waters and occasional pornographer who made the video for Dreamworld Waiting. In the years after the release of Dreamworld Waiting, she worked alone on producing an album that was starkly different.

Combluotion‘s bedroom-produced vocals are emotive, earnest and sweet, circling cold crystalline synths & fairyland drum machinery, girlishly grieving disappointments and evoking dreamland futures beyond the loneliness and pain.

The unapproachable, FKA Twigs inspired single Come Thru boasts a video full of facial piercing & queer cavorting. I enjoyed the the low key chords and sonic splatter of gross, and the eerie, sweet pop melody Hope St.

Closet Burner – Choose Your Weapon

chooseyourweapon.jpg

Still Broken begins with a broken, fuzzy sample, a common motif in hardcore and d-beat. Sylvia Rivera’s voice rings out, addressing the Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally. “I’ve been trying to get up here all day for your gay brothers and your gay sisters in jail that write me every motherfucking week and ask for your help, and you all don’t do a goddamn thing for them.”

Rivera’s speech (which you can view here) encapsulates a lot of the anger being processed in Closet Burner’s 8 minute and 47 second long album Choose Your Weapon.

When I saw Closet Burner play a benefit show for a local queercore fest in a local pizza shop, their lead singer addressed the crowd, explaining how the tendency of queer activist circles to deliberately repel people who aren’t on the same woke level as them can serve to exclude a lot of queer and trans people who aren’t on that level yet for a variety of wide socioeconomic reasons. I could feel tension in the room.

It’s a fine line between creating acceptance and allowing an “anything goes” culture that pressures marginalized groups to endure outsized aggressions. No one wants to tell deeply invested activists to run their own scene differently. They just going to quietly stop going to events where they don’t feel welcome.

When the song Queer Elite began, with Closet Burner screaming “Nose in the fucking air, you don’t seem to care…reciting all the theories, out of touch with reality,” I clapped along.

Peach Kelli Pop – Peach Kelli Pop III

You can no longer find Peach Kelli Pop’s albums on Bandcamp, after they posted a receipt showing $1.52 taken off a $10 MP3 album to Twitter. Guess you better actually buy their records, or go see them next time you have a chance and buy all the stickers, zines, and tapes you can get your hands on.

Remember when we went to Milwaukee to see these dudes play? That’s the sort of addiction their candy-coated twee love pop inspires. If there’s a Peach Kelli Pop XII, I’ll probably love it.

G.L.O.S.S. – Demo

gloss.jpg

Released just two weeks in 2015, G.L.O.S.S.’ manifesto had a whole year to threaten the cis-sexist transphobic punk rock status quo. It ruffled more than a few feathers (puke and eyeroll forever) and inspired a whole new generation to take femininity back with lined lips and spiked bats.

There’s pretty much no way you missed this incendiary firebomb, so I want to make sure you also noticed singer Sadie Switchblade’s solo album under the moniker Dyke Drama. Switchblade’s clever lyrics, which channel rage and trans triumph on the G.L.O.S.S. demo, exhibit emotional depth and frank vulnerability while discussing sobriety, depression, and unhappy sexual encounters.

PWR BTTM – Ugly Cherries

PWR BTTM’s drum-and-bass driven Ugly Cherries is less of an album and more of a way of a direct beam into the brains of those gifted with being fluidly genderqueer and floridly queer: you’re not alone. Here are your people. The lyrics beckon in: “We can do our make up in the parking lot…we can drink our beer out of a sippy cup, we can go to Disney Land and fuck shit up.” Once you’re in the slumber party of longing, sex, love, you’re covered in glitter and you’ll never be alone again.

(I can’t recommend John Walker’s excellent piece on PWR BTTM for Fusion highly enough; it’s what made me realize I definitely had to check this album out).

Read Article →

War on Christmas Fest

11210395_10153483436913600_9128124656782305805_n

This weekend, HoZac Records is teaming up with DIY space Young Camelot to bring you War on Christmas Fest, a benefit for Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and Greater Chicago Food Depository.

This fest is shaping up to the twinkling star of the holiday season, with two days of stacked line-ups, and higher goals than simple lagered abandon. The $7 ticket price per night is dropped down to $5 if you show up with a canned good, pack of socks, box of tampons, jar of peanut butter, box of pasta, etc.

Each night kicks off at 9pm at Young Camelot. Ask a your local bell-ringer with a mohawk under their Santa cap for the address.

Friday, December 11

23252830752_dfbc9f4751_o

Heavy Times, Indonesian Junk, MAMA, Endless Column, American Breakfast

Don’t chintz out and bring some ancient canned straw mushrooms rescued from a Cold War bomb shelter. Spring for a box of ultra-absorbency tampons, for all those experiencing Heavy Times.

Saturday, December 12th

23252830752_dfbc9f4751_o

The Rubs, Soft Candy, Gross Pointe, The Man, Hawley

War on Christmas Fest continues with an eclectic line-up that includes 60s-pop anachronisms Soft Candy, two flaming tire-fires of garage rock (The Rubs & Grosse Pointe), and The Man’s menacing, no-fucks-given mind-control punk.

Read Article →

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+

SYA773

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+ 

Read Article →

Weekly Agenda: Nov 10 – 14th 2015

Dude, have you looked at our calendar? The next few weeks fucking rip. Chicago is not yet content to succumb to the lure of carbs, chenille socks, and clicking “Continue Playing” on Netflix over and over.

Tuesday, November 10th

Free Pizza, Radio Shaq, Bloom, Glamour Hotline
I’m really digging on Spooky Cool Girls, an EP Glamour Hotline just uploaded to Soundcloud like 5 days ago.

Carrie” tells a tale of girl-on-girl longing, idolization & lust. “She is a rebel queen, everyone’s favorite thing,” Hayley Jordanna sings, self-consciously evoking Bikini Kill’s Rebel Girl – again in the lines “I wanna be just like you, wanna do the things that you do.” I’m pretty sure the song’s protagonist also wants to follow Carrie home and try on her clothes. There’s a touch more envy & inadequacy than was cool to share in the ra-ra-riot days; despite the complete lack of sound similarity, it reminded me of the subject matter of Babydoll, Sweet Spirit’s ode to being the girl picked last.

Jordanna’s voice, along with Alex Lukawski and drummer Riley Cavanaugh, warps it’s way around tremulous vulnerabilities, sasses, flirts, and cheerleader-chants. Some the multi-singer back-n-forth & “fuck it, we’re just gonna squeal and swear at you through the mic” vocal styles remind me of Blatz, which is actually a SUPER high compliment from me. That being said, all their songs are mad catchy and SK8R basically sounds like the dream soundtrack to Skate Bitches.
Wally World
$5 / 21+ / byob or cheap bar

BOYTOY, Shah Jahan
BOYTOY has the sunny stoner patina and pure pop tones that seem to be de rigueur in bright young Brooklyn (and Echo Park) bands these days, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy the effect.
The Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western Ave
Tue, November 10, 9pm / $5, 21+

Beat Drun Juel, Glyders, Ko, Slayerkitty
Not only can you RSVP here for free beer and tokens, the whole night benefits Girls Rock! Chicago, AND it’s free. Best deal in town.
Emporium Arcade Bar, 1366 N Milwaukee Ave
Tue, November 10, 8pm / 21+ / free

Wednesday, November 11th

Vånna Inget, Slopsink
Vanna Inget brought their stormy post-punk/dark pop all the way from Sweden so you will go to both shows, damn it.
Logan Hardware Records, 2532 W Fullerton Ave
Wed, November 11, 7pm/ free / aa / show after at Liar’s Club

Vånna Inget, Rad Payoff, Autonomy, Mystery Actions
Rad Payoff is a punk band that has a song that involves screaming the line “DON’T SHUT MY DICK IN THE CAR DOOR.” I could say more, but that’s basically all you need to know.
Liar’s Club, 1665 W Fullerton Ave
Wed, November 11, 8pm / 21+

Thursday, November 12th

Pink Eyes, Empty Vessels, Ribbonhead
Dude. I’m fucking into Ribbonhead’s new EP. The intensity is relentless, but varied; rather than a monotone slog through homogenous noise, they know when to play up the feedback-on-Mars fuzz, when to highlight a tricky post-punk riff, and when to let loose with a blasting hardcore squall.
Live Wire Lounge, North Milwaukee Avenue
Thu, November 12, 8pm / 21+ / $5

Eight Bit Tiger, Glass Lux
Glass Lux is a Italo Disco informed synth-pop duo that performs with trippy 3D visuals. Should be fun.
The Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western Ave
Thu, November 12, 9pm

Friday, November 13th

Bleach Party, MAMA, Soddy Daisy, The Baby Magic, Rat Hammer
This is the LAST AUXILIARY ART CENTER SHOW EVER, y’all. I think I’m going to cry a little. There’s gonna be tapes of that awesome mix streaming above, so bring some extra cash.
Auxiliary Art Center, 3012 W Belmont Ave
Fri, November 13, 7pm / $7 donation

Uh Bones, The Evictions, Son of a Gun
These fucking guys.
Cole’s Bar, 2338 N Milwaukee Ave
Fri, November 13, 9pm / 21+ / free

Rob Threezy, Gel Set, Aerial Drones, Holy Family
Deadpan, deadspace, disaffected vocals echo over bouncing, clip-clopping synth beats; Gel Set’s tone is as mournful and pervertedly futuristic as the cult classic Liquid Sky.

Holy Family is one of the new projects coming out of Rectal Hygienics. I’m just hoping it’s not the one who wrote their deeply shitty lyrics.
Archer Beach Haus
Fri, November 13, 10pm

Saturday, November 14th

Vånna Inget, The Rubs, BLOOM, The Obleeks
These Swedes again!
Club Soda
Sat, November 14, 8pm

As always, there’s a billion more shows on our calendar.

Read Article →

No Friends #1 Review

I finally picked up a copy of No Friends Maga(zine), which was previously mentioned in this Show Horoscope. I am not disappointed. The fledgling fanzine, a homegrown punk-house-brewed DIY project of editors Jim Zajackowski and Ray Martinez, focuses on underground music, art, film, comedy, politics, and their surrounding communities and cultures.

Editorial pieces on the direction of the zine wave the freak flag fly and fling the doors to admission wide open. The full-sized magazine pages of black and white photos and text promise a home of everything you can possibly think of as punk, whether it’s based on the stalwart lifeblood of leather and hardcore or the more slippery concepts of boundary-pushing and concept-questioning.

Sewn into the binding of each copy is a translucent plastic collectible flexidisc. While you can buy No Friends online in both physical and digital copies, there are no digital releases anywhere of the four songs on each No Friends flexis. If you wanna hear these songs, you gotta pick up a real copy. In that spirit, I don’t wanna say two much about the Lumpy and the Dumpers and Ausmuteants split other than it’s a hardcore ripper and I really liked the Lumpy side especially.

The music reviews (which occupy a long section in the publications’s caboose, a nod to it’s acknowledged predecessor MMR) won’t demand physical copies of releases, in deference to the way bands actually release music in this year of Our Lady Sante Muerte 2015. The genre restrictions are rubbery, stretching to accommodate dream pop & gothy synth bummer tunes and even (stage whisper) garage.

Martin Sorrondeguy sat down for a long conversation on his photography, his career with Los Crudos and Limpwrist, and the importance of sex in a relationship. I was at the Fed Up Fest Limpwrist performance discussed in the article, and it’s always interesting to see another perspective on what’s become a polarizing gathering within Chicago’s punk scene.

While I was most excited to read the interview with Sorrondeguy, I was most curious about an interview with Seth Äaberg, the purveyor of Pork Magazine and capitalist force behind a million chintzy kitschy lipstick knives and Pork Army back patches. His wartsy, Ratfink-ripoff aesthetic has drawn fire for the prolific use of Nazi imagery and racist cultural appropriation. I was surprised to see that Pork was going to be featured in No Friends, and relieved when I saw the controversy addressed within the first sentence of the article.

Äaberg’s well-worn sleazemerchant spiel and rail against the peril of commie pantywaists won’t surprise anyone who’s flipped through a Pork; what’s more surprising to me it that somebody finally asked the question. For all of Äaberg’s malign of social justice advocates as sniveling keyboard warriors, there somebody was, talking to him face to face, and publishing the results. That’s pretty fucking cool, and way more fucking punk than paying the Hot Topic of Garage Punk for the honor of putting some Nazi symbology on your jean vest.

Ray and Jim are trying to make a place for all sorts of music, politics, opinions, and subcultural rumblings to be hashed out and full explored, without conveniently ignoring uncomfortable histories or rushing to celebrate or condemn anyone. They can’t do it without your support. Whether you wanna write for them (their submission box is open), buy their zine (check out your local indie record shop), or get a collector’s subscription (limited spots available!) make you sure take part in some way. There’s a seat for you at the table.

Read Article →

Clearance Record Release Show Tonight

Clearance’s shambolic melodic clutter belies a bright-eyed optimism and work ethic; maybe I’m just used to weirdo noise-rock acts stretching out inter-song breaks in blazing hot basements with interminable banter and discomforting costume subtractions, but their live act is a lot tighter and more polished than most.

I’ll be real, it’s kind of refreshing to see some young people get their shit together and turn out some well recorded, catchy, head bobbing alt rock. Tall Pat previewed the test pressing for a Friends of Tall Pat Records barbecue earlier this summer, and I can vouch that it’s excellent music for eating grilled thick-cut bacon on a blanket with your friends.

I recently had the chance to interview Mike from Clearance for my day job at Do312 (which has a new app btw). You should definitely go read it and stream the full record, and you should totally scramble to that show at The Owl like Pizza Rat scrambles down some subway stairs with a slice.

Their debut full length Rapid Rewards is available on two different record labels: the aforementioned Midwest garage label that tolerates no weak pits, and Unsatisfied Records out of LA. (If you’re reading this, you probably live in Chicago. Buy it from Tall Pat. I was born in the valley, and I still traded my Lakers allegiance for the Bulls mythology, so if I can show some hometown loyalty, so can you).

Clearance, American Breakfast, Salad Boys
The Owl, The Owl, 2521 North Milwaukee Avenue
21+ / free / release show

Read Article →

Weekly Agenda: Aug 24th – 29th: Announcements! Housekeeping! Shows!

There’s a lot going on in my life right now that may or may not effect Store Brand Soda, so bear with me while I get some announcements out of the way, and I’ll move on to a list of all the shows happening this week.

First off, despite the fact that Lorena Cupcake is my legal name and I’ve provided them with my State ID, Name Change Amendment, and a bank statement, Facebook has locked my account out for not complying with their Real Name Policy. Facebook, and the huge network of musicians and DIY punks I’m friends with there, is unfortunately a huge part of how I collect information about shows for Store Brand Soda. It’s also a big part of how I promote the site. If I never get back into my account, I’m honestly not sure how I’m supposed to keep doing SBS.

If you feel like contacting Facebook, referencing Case #967503016650293, and letting them know that Lorena Cupcake is the name you know me by, I would really appreciate it. You can also bug them on Twitter. In the meantime, you can always email me about your upcoming album release show or whatever.

One last piece of business: I start a new job today as the Social Media and Marketing Assistant for Do 312. Much like I do here, I’m going to be writing about events, music, parties, and festivals in a way that hopefully makes you want to put on your flyest outfit and go rage. If you want to keep up with my work there, you can follow Do 312 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also come hang out with me at our 5th birthday party on Sunday. Absolutely Not is playing!

Between getting locked out of Facebook and starting a brand new job, Store Brand Soda has to go on the backburner for me right now. I’m hoping this is a temporary hiatus; I’m going to try to keep the calendar updated, and I have a few posts already drafted.

Monday, August 24th

Animal City, State Champion, Today’s Hits
Subterranean, 2011 West North Avenue
Mon, August 24, 8pm / $8 / 17+

The Limbs, Bad Bad Meow, Ross W Berman IV
Schubas Tavern, 3159 North Southport Avenue
Mon, August 24, 8pm / 21+ / free

The Peekaboos, The Avantist, Evasive Backflip
This show got a mention in our recent Show Horoscope, which has a ton more relevant show recommendations for you!
The Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western Avenue,
Mon, August 24, 9pm / 21+ / $5

Big Pussy, Nice Guys, Lil Tits, Radio Shaq, Georgia O’Queef
I LOVE HOW IMMATURE AND HILARIOUS ALL THE BAND NAMES IN THIS LINE-UP ARE. I’M NOT EVEN BEING SARCASTIC, I REALLY LOVE THAT THEY’RE ALL PLAYING TOGETHER. Also, I recently saw Georgia O’Queef play for the first time and they’re rad; super fast grindy thrash metal. Into it.
Wally World
Mon, August 24, 9:05pm / $5 / 21+ to drink / BYOB or cheap bar

Autonomy, No More Dead Girls, Brickfight
Hardcord, dudes. Autonomy is Ray from No Friends‘ band.
Liar’s Club, 1665 West Fullerton Avenue
Mon, August 24, 10pm / $5 donation / 21+

Tuesday, August 25th

The Vaccines, Power Haunts
One for the old punks (who hopped on tickets in time).
Schubas Tavern, 3159 North Southport
Tue, August 25, 8pm / SOLD OUT / $20 / $23

The Gnar Wave Rangers,MTVGhosts, The Cell Phones, The Jollys
Schubas has been doing these free all-local line-ups lately, and I’m down. The Cellphones have super dark vibes and The Jollys are all good dudes.
Schubas Tavern, 3159 North Southport Avenue
Tue, August 25, 8pm / free / 18+

Whitney, Joe Bordenaro, Lionlimb
My first impression of Whitney was “falsetto, white boy r-n-b.” After a few more songs and a few more beers, I generously revised this to “orchestral, park stroll pop.” With their ex-Smith-Westerns pedigree, they’re destined for popularity, if not greatness.
The Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western Avenue
Tue, August 25, 9pm / $5 / 21+

Wednesday, August 26th

Donkey Hotel, Psychic Nurse, Monica Laplante, Murder Shoes
Burlington, 3425 West Fullerton Avenue
Wed, August 26, 9pm / usually $5 – $10 / 21+

Thursday, August 27th

Ego, Grosse Pointe
I can’t figure out if this they actually card for these free shows at The Virgin Hotel or what – I only remember being carded at the bar last time I was there. If you’re a minor and you get into this without any issues, hit me up.
Virgin Hotels Chicago, 203 North Wabash Avenue, 25th floor
Thu, August 27, 6pm / 21+ to drink / free

Heaters, Ranch Ghost, Spike & The Sweet Spots, Glyders
I suppose Ranch Ghost makes more sense to interpret as a ghost that haunts a ranch, but I love picturing a floating, haunting glob of ranch dressing.
Subterranean, 2011 West North Avenue
Thu, August 27, 8pm / $10 / 17+

Slushy, Midriffs, Dinoczar, Beer the Band
I feel weird about putting the address for this up, but they have it public on the Facebook event, so whatever. Email me if you want it taken down.
Hobo Spaceship, 3144 W Carroll Ave #2H
Thu, August 27, 8pm / free

Bike Cops, Natural Causes, Strawberry Jacuzzi, Sweepyheads
Burlington Bar, 3425 W Fullerton
Thu, August 27, 9pm / usually $5 – $10 / 21+

Friday, August 28th

Younger Lovers, Black Bandits and the Stickups, Moor Mother Goddess, Bruised, Tigress, Crude Humor, Novatore, Tensions, Xille Xille Xille
This is part of Black & Brown Punk show, which I previously wrote about here! For me, the highlight of the line-up is sassy Oakland queercore party poppers Younger Lovers, who are fronted by the hilarious writer and performer Brontez Purnell. Check out his recent comic The Cruising Diaries, which is full of hilarious (and hilariously gross) stories of anonymous casual sex.
Chicago Women In Trade, 2444 W 16th St, #16
Fri, August 28, 4:30pm / sober event / AA / $15

Glamour Hotline, Not 4 U, Wad, Belly Belt
This show got a mention in our recent Show Horoscope, which has a ton more relevant show recommendations for you!
Pinky Swear
Fri, August 28, 8pm / bring $ for donation

Den, Rumores, Cracked Vessel
From our most recent Show Horoscope: Whoa, super loud noise punk and free donuts…in the middle of the day…in a library?!?!? I REALLY LOVE THIS CITY SOMETIMES, Y’ALL. This show is open to everyone, but the organizers have made sure to note that teenagers, who often don’t have access to shows like this, are extra welcome. The library is also fully accessible for those who use mobility devices; you can read a lot more about the importance of accessibility at music venues over at Is This Venue Accessible.
West Town Public Library, 1625 West Chicago Avenue
1:30pm at Sat, August 29 / AA / donations for bands appreciated

Lala Lala, KO
This show got a mention in our recent Show Horoscope, which has a ton more relevant show recommendations for you!
saki, 3716 West Fullerton Avenue
Sat, August 29, 4pm / free / AA

Saturday, August 29th

Kris de la Rash, Aye Nako, L(a)kras, The Breathing Light, Ono, La Armada, Through and Through, The Kominas, Cabrona, R-Tronika
ChiTown Futbol, 2255 South Throop Street
Sat, August 29, 5pm / 21+ to drink, must have ID, no BYOB / $15 / AA

Impulsive Hearts, Croquet, Not For You
Burlington Bar 3425 W Fullerton
Sat, August 29, 9pm / usually $5 – $10 / 21+

Black Lips, Grosse Pointe
The Black Lips are also playing Sunday at Chicago Fashion Fest! Their website sucks so I couldn’t figure out enough detail to put it on the calendar, figure it out yourselves.
Subterranean, 2011 West North Avenue
Sat, August 29, 10pm / 17+ / $20

Burning Ponies, Bubbles Brown, The Holy Motors
Schubas Tavern, 3159 North Southport Avenue
Sat, August 29, 10pm / $10 / 21+

Sueves, Ballroom, Eyes of Satan
Cole’s Bar, 2338 North Milwaukee Avenue
Sat, August 29, 10pm / free / 21+

Read Article →