San Fran trio Balms is bringing emo-pop to Empty Bottle

On February 16, Balms is performing at Chicago’s beloved Empty Bottle alongside local heavy hitters Dark Fog, Diagonal, and Bow & Spear.

Grunge-meets-pop trio Balms is making waves from the west coast, down to Mexico, and up east in support of their debut album Mirror. One of their singles, “Candle”, has received great praise from NPR’s All Songs Considered.

If you’re a fan of enticing instrumentals, hypnotizing vocals, and drama - you gotta keep your eyes peeled for Balms. Mirror will be available for your listening pleasure February 1st - preorder it here.

Find ways to keep up with these rockers down below.

RIYL: Sloucher, Turnover, Castlebeat


Written by Alicia Maciel (Twitter: @eraseher_), a fan of hugs and the surfer emoji.

John Maus' two-night Chicago takeover

Headlining back to back nights at two of Chicago’s premier venues is goth pop act John Maus. Taking over Pilsen’s Thalia Hall Monday followed by underground music’s beloved Empty Bottle Tuesday - this Minnesotan’s lo-fi performances are not to be missed.

Attentively listening through John Maus’ six releases (via Ribbon Music/Domino Records), I found myself hypnotized by the instrumentals. Debut Songs (2006) features track “That Night”, which harnessed my attention immediately as the unexpected indie guitar added a breath of fresh air. Integrated with purposeful rhythmic randomization, impressive synth, and upbeat bursts - synth pop welcomed its newest artist to watch for.

Maus dove into new realms of ambiance with follow-up Love is Real (2007). With first impression being more soothing and polished than prior, the emphasis of bass stays top of mind for listeners. Tracks like “My Whole World’s Coming Apart” have bass lines that rip while song “Don’t Worship The Devil” compels anyone to get up and dance. Wrapping the album with dance tracks and “Old Town” as a nod to Nirvana, I was intrigued as to what was to next.

Reaching the equivalent of landmark status, Maus’ third record We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves released in 2011. A fan favorite, the album kicked off with a neat introduction, followed by hopeful tones, outstanding groove, and countless nuances. The minute “Hey Moon” kicked in with a breathtaking duet, I understood why many deem this as Maus’ best album.

Taking time to live in rural Minnesota for six years, the experimental musician focused on creating instruments and finishing academia with a focus in political philosophy. A true enthusiast of DIY, Maus records in one of his bedrooms to ensure his music holds its rawness. It’s no surprise that acts like John Maus have influenced a plethora of bands today including the on-the-rise Preoccupations.

His love for baroque, orchestrated arrangements, and variety of pop shines from his authentic persona. Maus’ latest releases Screen Memories and Addendum were developed over his time in the midwest. Self-describing Screen Memories as more thought over and Addendum as what came easier, seeing John Maus perform livens the character of his music.

Find ways to keep up with the artist down below.


Written by Alicia Maciel (Twitter: @eraseher_), a fan of hugs and the surfer emoji.

FIDLAR Review 9/8 @ The Vic

By Kelley Sloot

I was supposed to see FIDLAR at Riot Fest last year, but my plans fell through and I ended up not being able to go. So, when I found out that they were going on tour, their show immediately became one of my most anticipated shows of 2018. I’ve been to plenty of rowdy shows, but I can honestly say this was probably one of, if not the most, insane concerts I’ve been to.

After shooting photos for the first three songs, I moved out of the photo pit and towards the back of the crowd. It only took about five minutes before I asked one of the other photographers to hold my stuff for me so I could go into the mosh pit. I stayed in the pit for about two songs before crowd surfing (my first ever!!!) up and out. I spent the remainder of the show jamming out and playing air guitar with random groups of people.

FIDLAR brought an incredible and contagious amount of energy to the show that lasted the entire night. Along with the band themselves, the fans brought that same amount of energy to the floor as they belted out lyrics while headbanging and jumping around. The band played all of their most popular songs, such as 40 oz. On Repeat and Awkward, along with some lesser known songs. At the end of the show, Zac Karper got off the stage and went into the crowd to mosh with them and everyone went wild.

Throughout the night, multiple members of the band called out people in the crowd for being too aggressive. In one instance, Elvis Kuehn stopped playing to tell an audience member to stop choking someone near him. In another instance, Zac Karper told the audience that if they ever feel unsafe at a FIDLAR show, they have the wrath of the band to support them. Karper even encouraged the audience to form a girls-only mosh pit that definitely allowed more of the females to enter a pit that they otherwise would be too nervous about. Although FIDLAR is a punk rock band that seems to have a lot of pent up anger behind their music, the band actively made moves to make the concert a safe space for every person in the audience.

 Not seeing FIDLAR at Riot Fest last year was obviously a let-down but having to wait a year until this show just made it that much more enjoyable. There are not many times that stick out in my head where a band has genuinely impressed me with their live performance as well as their on-stage personalities but FIDLAR did just that. The guys seem to really enjoy playing their music and they show so much appreciation for their fans. There’s no way I’ll ever pass up an opportunity to see these guys again.

Exclusive Red Bull Music Festival Discounts

Tickets for Red Bull Music Festival Chicago are on sale! Featuring performances from Nas, Pusha T, Jamila Woods, Vic Mensa, Cupcakke and more, join in on an array of exciting events throughout Chicago this November.

DePaul students are able to use their student email address for discounts on the following shows. Buy tickets at:

Show specific discounts

Red Bull Music Festival Opening Night:

with Nas, Pusha T, Teyana Taylor and more: Code: RBMGOOD



Vic Mensa:


Jamilia Woods:


NO I.D.:


Discount codes courtesy of Red Bull Music Festival and The DePaul Music Business Organization. Sign up for our newsletter for more concert discount offers, and like the page on facebook to stay updated HERE.

Hobo Johnson and The LoveMakers

Ally Schell

Providing an intense, impactful, and passionate sound to listener’s ears, Hobo Johnson fights against assumptions about society today to present what is really true. Frank Lopes Jr. named himself Hobo Johnson when he began his music career after he was kicked out of his dad’s house at 19 and then started living in his car. Commemorating his car, he named his first album Hobo Johnsons 94 Corolla. But the traction started when Hobo Johnson and The LoveMakers showed their talent when they performed at NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in March of this year. This set featured many songs of his but people listening particularly liked his song called “Peach Scones”. The newly made fans waited only a couple weeks until the release of The Rise Of Hobo Johnson. But this is only the beginning.

            Moving onto the music, lets dissect “Peach Scones”. It begins with the sound of little pulls on guitar strings as he explains in his voice what this whole song is about. “He falls in love with a girl, girl already has a boyfriend. She kinda loves him back, but not really they’re just really good friends.” Are some of the opening lines to this song and you can feel the sadness of being “friendzoned” as you wait for the unfolding of why he loves her. He asks an array of questions preceding these lines most likely to this girl that he is talking to. He asks, in a sense, if she has a boyfriend and he immediately shuts himself out of the equation if she does have a boyfriend by saying, “disregard every time I call you pretty”.  Through his fluctuation in tone and volume of voice he shows how relatable and common that this problem can be. “And I love the thought of being with you, or maybe it’s the thought of not being so alone” is repeated multiple times in this song I believe to drive the point through that he might not need her but just someone in general to be with him. Then it gets comedic but also extremely relatable. He seems to be talking to her at this coffee shop and states “I love” which you think he is going to say her but he then diverts to “these scones”. He then goes on a tangent about scones most likely out of fear that she will catch on about what he was really trying to say.  We’ve all had times in our lives where we are scared to share our feelings and Hobo Johnson embraces the awkward with this song.  Saying something like “she’s a peach…scone.” is something to say out of fear to avoid if don’t feel the same way you do. 

            To continue with love and awkwardness, we now move to “Romeo & Juliet”. However, this song is much darker and though it is light-hearted with the theme of Shakespeare, it talks about failing marriages and his personal experience from his parents. Instead of talking about the awkwardness that happens when you profess your love and they don’t feel the same way, he talks about the embarrassment that Romeo Jr. might have to face if his parents were to get a divorce. He then proceeds to tell his own experience, of the dressers and lamps knocking down from his father talking to his mother about divorce. He then ends with “But forever hear the sound, and boy, it’s tough ‘cause that’s the sound of people falling out of love”.  This shows the versatility of love and that it may be so perfect like Romeo & Juliet in the beginning, but in the end it seems like there are no happy endings.

Due to Hobo Johnson’s journey, he became predisposed to an array of emotions and ideas about how love, marriage, and everything in between works. He opens the wounds of the past in several songs such as “Peach Scones” and “Romeo & Juliet”. What is truly telling about this artist is his sense of awareness and not backing down from something taboo that he believes needs to be addressed. With this, Hobo Johnson gives people a chance to realize they are not alone.  It gives everyone an opportunity to feel the way they feel through his songs. Hobo Johnson and The LoveMakers are definitely ones to watch as they start their music career. His fall tour (officially called “Bring Your Mom Tour”) has just recently started.  He is traveling many places and Chicago specifically Friday, November 2nd and I have no doubt in my mind that it’s going to be a blast and don’t forget to bring your mom—he encourages it!


The DNA of Panic! At The Disco’s Discography

 Ally Schell

Hallelujah! Panic! At the Disco is back! So all you sinners and saints get ready for a new tour and a new album featuring Brendon Urie and his crew.  It all began in high school when Panic! At the Disco started their first album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, and became popular for their song “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” that led to the album being double platinum in the U.S in 2006.  Through the years band members have come and gone but the music that Panic! At the Disco produces continues to remain fresh in fans minds as they continue to create new music. So far, Panic! At the Disco have released five albums along with singles, EPs, live tracks, and remixes. Their newest album, Pray for the Wicked, has yet to be released as fans a wait for the vocals of Brendon Urie. As we continue, let us reminisce about the songs that have created Panic! At the Disco.

            Let us begin at the beginning. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” is named after Douglas Coupland’s book called Shampoo Planet “What I write are not sins; I write tragedies” showing the people that have one big flaw that leads to their downfall. This is known as a fatal flaw that can be seen in almost every tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet. This song was done by lyricist and guitarist, Ryan Ross, whose girlfriend had recently broke up with him. The general theme is to show that things could have been worse in the break up.  The beginning features a cello that is rumored to be a young girl in their high school whom the band asked to play for the beginning because they couldn’t afford a professional. Then the lyrics begin, as Brendon sings how this beautiful wedding is nothing but fake. In the music video, it features Brendon and his crew of mystical friends interrupting a wedding ceremony. As the video continues, you see the bride and groom begin to fight as their wedding is not going as planned. Then, she walks out angrily and a guy from the pews follows her. The groom is in shock and is quite confused but Brendon walks him out to see that his bride is kissing that very guy. She mouths the word “Sorry” as she sees her groom. It then cuts to the groom bowing and changes into Brendon’s clothes. He walks about the mystical people and starts to jump and dance. The connection I can make of all of this is that the groom is now free from heartache and sadness and is in turn happy that he didn’t marry her. This could be similar to how Ryan Ross felt when his girlfriend broke up with him.


            Now we venture into the land of Pretty.Odd. Panic! At the Disco claims that this album was very different from any other album that they produced and they add many different elements in this album. It is much softer than its previous album and features horns and string instruments to set the mood. Even though it is less rebellious than A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, it is very complex and an almost vintage feeling seen in the song “I Have Friends in Holy Spaces”. We can look at the song “Nine in the Afternoon” that shows its Pretty.Odd side. It talks about love and its beginning stating that they pick up things they shouldn’t read and going “back to the street where we began”. They proceed in saying that everything that happened back in the street where it began was different than reality. “Cause’ its nine in the afternoon, your eyes are the size of the moon” can be interpreted as something non-existent or something in the past. This is because of the fact that there is no such thing as nine in the afternoon but the band feels that when it is/when it felt like it was nine in the afternoon everything, including her eyes, were beautiful. They also state “We’re feelings so good just the way that we do.” Showing that perfect is what they found in the place that is nine in the afternoon.

            Grab your top hats and goggles because we are moving to a steam punk world that is Vices and Virtues.  The band was having hiccups in their crew as many people of the band dismembered. Many wondered if that was the end of Panic! At the Disco. But fear not! They continued with this album and their two-piece showmen, Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith, dominating showing that they were not giving up.  One of my favorite songs from this album, arguably my favorite song out of the discography, is “Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)”.  This song correlates to the wanting to get up and leave and start a new chapter. The beginning of the song starts with a fast paced drum and guitar along with other instruments as Brendon says, “you’ve got these little things you’ve been running from” bringing it straight to the listeners ears. Continuing, Brendon shows the yearning of a young youth to get going by saying, “I think I’m ready to leave, I’m ready to live, I’m ready to go” as voices echo “Get me out of my mind”. This verse not only corresponds to the general theme of the song but also shows that many people, Brendon included, wants to leave the mind behind. “There’s a million ways it could go,” relates to the fact that anything can happen and to venture out and discover for yourself potential and what you want. This upbeat song shows the simpler side of Panic! and the dreams that maybe even they had/have to go ahead and do what they want to do and not be afraid to take risks.

            Talk about rebellion and intensity, Panic! At the Disco is the poster child. In their next album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die the centerpiece is moving towards a more rock vibe. After a four-year break, Panic! enters yet again to create a fist bumping, crowd surfing track. In this album, with solely Brendon Urie, he once again steers away from the steam punk sound and changes it to a dance club vibe.  In the middle of this album is a song called “Nicotine” in which Brendon Urie expresses this girl as addictive as nicotine. Having been a smoker himself, he can relate to the nature of both a cigarette and a girl being intoxicating. Both he believes can be fatal. He even states that she is “worse than nicotine”, believing that she never loved him back similar to the emotionless cigarette he used to drag. The end of the song goes as follows, he wants to give her up or in other words “quit” her like nicotine. However, he says that he “needs it so bad” like an itch or a wanting for one last touch before he lets her go. This next song is arguably my favorite on the entire Panic! At The Disco discography. The song is called “Collar Full” and this three minute and eighteen second song discusses the passionate side of Brendon for his love for a girl. I believe this song is based on his now wife Sarah and his love for her.  The beat continuously becomes catchier as you tap your foot along then; he opens by expressing that they both have waited so long for something to happen. But now, there is something more brewing. “I’ve got a collar full of chemistry from your company, so maybe tonight I’ll be the libertine.” Brendon is saying in this line his feelings for Sarah have more than just exceeded his expectations but that he has a real chemistry with her. The second verse refers to a loss of morals meaning that this could be something he has really been careful about but now, he is willing to be a little more risky and really hone in on the relationship. Whether it is a bitter relationship mentioned in “Nicotine” or a heartfelt lovely dovey song like “Collar Full”, this album shows that Brendon doesn’t shy away from his true feelings. If anything, it shows that anyone can repair from a bad relationship.

            *Queue Death Of A Bachelor here* As I guessed that Sarah was the person Brendon was writing about in “Collar Full”, the next album Death Of A Bachelor is about, well, just that! He finally has put a ring on it and made it official that he is no longer a man of many ladies. The last song in his final track of Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! Is actually his wedding vow to Sarah, which perfectly sets the tone for this album. This pop rock album is full of mystery and magic tricks. Every song is so individual from the rest but don’t be fooled, they all mesh perfectly together. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, I will say that the high soprano parts are well used as well as loved in this. “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” is very misleading at the beginning as they play a more bass influenced beginning of a surfing-esque song but as it starts to crescendo you start to see that this is far from a soft surfing Beach Boys inspired song. The whole song is Brendon waking up and not being aware of what happened the night before. This funny tale of Brendon Urie slowly remembering bits and pieces is part of the journey of an excellent night. “I lost a bet to a guy in chiffon skirt, but I make these high heels work.” Shows the humor as well as the tale of the crazy things he can get into. This correlates to the title “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time.” Because odds are, Brendon will gladly join and have the time of his life. Before I get too into this album it’s clear that even though he is no longer a bachelor, he is still having fun being himself.

            Panic! At The Disco has made a great impact in my life as well as so many others. To there teen years into adulthood, Panic! At The Disco continuously releases new music to keep its fans on their toes. If you haven’t listened to their recent album called Pray For The Wicked, I highly recommend adding it to your list of new albums to enjoy. It’s filled with fun and laughter as you sway to the beat. Brendon Urie has yet to get tired of the music he produces which shows the longevity of Panic! At The Disco will continue.



Muses of Music: Audiotree Music Festival 2018

As Kalamazoo welcomes thirty bands September 22 & 23 — find blurbs, tunes, and set times of OUTSTANDING acts with female representation.

Alicia Maciel

While “muse” is often defined as an individual who inspires artists, we will refer to women taking ATMF’s stage as muses for this article. The reason being is that women taking the stage influence not only fans, but the industry as a whole.

With the resurgence of touring and festivals spilling over to autumn, avid fans strive to discover marginalized representation at upcoming shows. Cutting through the noise are eleven impeccable bands performing at Audiotree Music Festival’s fifth installment.

Left to right: Brigitte Naggar (Common Holly), Miranda Winters (Melkbelly), Laura Lee (Khruanbin)

Left to right: Brigitte Naggar (Common Holly), Miranda Winters (Melkbelly), Laura Lee (Khruanbin)

Common Holly

Inspired by the development of what it means to be a person, Montreal-raised singer Brigitte Naggar composes clever tracks that tug one’s heartstrings. Resonating lyrics that can fill your heart with joy and eyes with tears, don’t miss her performance on Sunday.


Melkbelly | Miranda Winters

Derived from Chicago’s DIY roots is a prominent noise-rock act. With Miranda Winters hitting dynamic notes twice that Saturday, the intricate arrangements performed in the full band’s set embody the catchiness of droney, punk music.

[Melkbelly 1:45PM MAIN STAGE] | [Miranda Winters 4:30PM WIDR FM STAGE]


Laura Lee transmitted her passion from teaching math to learning bass - leading to the formation of the Texan trio late 2010. In under a decade, the psychedelic funk band continues to tour the world, incorporating eclectic styles causing listeners to become devoted fans. Keep them on your radar Saturday night!


V.V. Lightbody

After performing with Chicago acts Santah and Grandkids for a few years, Vivian McConnell decided 2018 was the right time to release solo work. Taking on the moniker of V.V. Lightbody (the name of her piano-playing grandmother), her signature “nap-rock” style will hypnotize onlookers Saturday at ATMF.


Slow Mass

Combining styles of post-hardcore with indie rock, the band’s debut album teases their untapped potential. 2018 signifies the three-year anniversaries of Slow Mass and bassist Mercedes Webb picking up their instrument. Check them out Sunday for surge of emotion.


Major Murphy

Stoked on releasing their debut full-length earlier this year, this Michigan band takes rock pop to new levels. Bassist Jacki Warren is key to the trio’s rich harmonies that inhibit anyone to sway along Sunday.


Moss Jaw

Kalamazoo’s home to this DIY shoegaze-meets-indie-folk band. Co-sphering their surrealist lyricism is Kayley Kerastas on vocals and guitar. Anticipating their debut full-length this fall, be front and center for this sonic act Saturday.

[12:25 PM @ MAIN STAGE]

Diet Cig

Who would’ve anticipated that interrupting a band’s set for a lighter could lead to new heights? Alex Luciano takes on guitar and vocals in this New York duo, with back to back sing-a-longs resonating with fans Saturday.


Maybe April

Based out of Nashville, this country Americana act’s three-part harmonies have turned heads since 2012. Mingling at a music industry camp led Kristen Castro, Katy DuBois, and Alaina Stacey to share the spotlight on cross country tours — performing Saturday.


The Regrettes

Punk takes a pop route for this LA act. Performing are frontwoman Lydia Night, Genessa Gariano on guitar, and Sage Nicole on bass –ready to rile up the crowd and leave their hearts onstage Saturday.


Buy tickets for ATMF 2018 here and find the full schedule here!

Our contributors weigh-in on their most anticipated shows for the rest of 2018

There's only a few months left of 2018 but those last months are going to be filled with an incredible amount of shows featuring talented artists. I reached out to my fellow contributors here at The Chicago Vibe to hear about what shows their most excited to see in the coming months.

 Written by: Kelley Sloot

Ally Schell:

Hobo Johnson is who I am most excited to see in Michigan in September. He’s a newer artist and has a slam poetry kind of feel. “Peach Scones” is arguably his most popular song in his discography; it’s all about love and how he feels about a girl who has a boyfriend. His words are real but clever and he’s shy but isn’t afraid to say how he feels. I am very excited!

o   Hobo Johnson will also be playing Riot Fest in Chicago (Sep 14-16).

o   Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook


Kelley Sloot:

There’s actually a few concerts I’m super excited to see (and hopefully shoot) in the next few months. My must-see concerts would be FIDLAR (September 8th at The Vic) and Joyce Manor (October 20th at The Vic).

I really wanted to see FIDLAR at Riot Fest last year, but my plans fell through and I was unable to attend the festival. They’ve always been one of those bands that I blast through the speakers in my car while driving with all the windows down. A few of my friends have seen them live previously and I’ve been told that they’re concerts are filled with crazy mosh pits and an extremely energetic crowd. I think crowd surfing at a show like this would be absolutely insane and so fun.

o   Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

I’ve wanted to see Joyce Manor for years but have never gotten to go to a show for various reasons. I listened to them when I was younger but was nervous to see them live because I’ve read online that the crowds are super rambunctious and as a small-sized girl, I didn’t want to be pushed around. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve transitioned into a small-sized girl who actually likes to throw myself into mosh pits and be one of the rambunctious fans that I was nervous about before. Being able to brave the energy of any crazy crowd has definitely come with its advantages and I think that it’s finally a good time to see Joyce Manor and jam to their new album, Million Dollars To Kill Me, coming out September 21st.  

o   Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook


Alicia Maciel:

Car Seat Headrest is in my top 3 indie rock bands, having had seen them last year at Summer Fest and again at Lollapalooza. They were supposed to play at The Vic and since that sold out so quickly, the venue upgraded to The Riv! I haven't seen them at a venue here in the city yet, so I'm super stoked on that. Plus, they're performing with the members of Naked Giants filling in so Will Toledo could focus on only vocals. I saw Naked Giants this past May and they put on a stellar show, with pop tracks that stayed in my head for what felt like forever.

            Car Seat Headrest plays at The Riviera on September 7th with Naked Giants.

o   Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook


The Beths are a New Zealand act, bringing indie power pop in a new way! They basically create the type of music I'd love to create. The Beths released an album this summer via Carpark Records and it's one of the only records I've had on repeat. 

            The Beths play at Beat Kitchen on October 5th with Mother Evergreen & Special Death.

o   Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook



Evan Hazlett:

One show in particular I find myself itching for the day to come is Shakey Graves at the Riviera Theater on Wednesday September 26th. I recently have begun to explore Alejandro Rose-Garcia’s cross of Blues, Folk, and Rock and Roll and have been impressed with each song I come across. “Hard Wire” has been one song I can’t seem to escape and if you take a listen, I’m sure you’ll understand why. The most significant reason I am stoked for this show is that three of my closest (and first!) friends at DePaul- Tommy, Haedy, and Elizabeth- have all been huge fans of Shakey Graves for a while. Tommy had recently attended a Shakey Graves show this past Spring and as soon as I started listening to his music, I knew I had made a mistake by not going to the show. If you are in need of a jazzy evening accompanied by some mellow but catchy tunes, I would not pass up this show like I did last spring! His music will bring you into an older world, and if you’re anything like me, will tempt you to run away from the world and live a more peaceful life.

o   Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook


Another show I am bursting with excitement about is Kasbo at the House of Blues on Saturday, November 17th. Kasbo is an electronic artist from Sweden whose full name is Carl Garsbo. His music highly resembles the rest of the outstanding Foreign Family Collective. I saw Kasbo for the first time this summer at Electric Forest Music Festival while being surrounded by endless pines, breathtaking art pieces, and all the lights and lasers you can dream of. Kasbo killed his entire set from start to finish while incorporating many other artists including another favorite of mine, Odesza. One song that never fails to bring me back to this moment, which I was able to share with many of my closest friends, is “Snow in Gothenburg.” I have no doubt Kasbo will again make me question, “Is this real life?” this November. In my opinion, the House of Blues is one of the most beautiful venues in Chicago and I can’t wait for the euphoria that he is going to bring to the windy city. I would highly recommend catching this show, as his music inspires me to push further, and reminds me that in the end it will all be okay.

o   Spotify, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook








Varsity premieres video for single "A Friend Named Paul"

Chicago’s beloved rock-pop quartet dove deep to retrieve what’s their best music video yet.

Alicia Maciel

On August 2, 2018 – Varsity released the official video for “A Friend Named Paul”, a single from Parallel Person, their sophomore album released April 2018 via Babe City Records. Turning heads of loyal fans to publications such as Billboard and The Grey Estates (a personal favorite), Varsity’s dedication to top-notch visuals surpasses expectations once again.

Screenshot derived from video

Screenshot derived from video

Directed by creatives Mark Pallman and Amanda Speva, Varsity expressed enthusiastically that their friends interpreted their small idea and “expanded it beyond anything we could’ve dreamed up ourselves”.

From members Steph Smith (vocals, keys), Dylan Weschler (guitar), Patrick Stanton (guitar), Paul Stolz (bass), and Jake Stolz (drums) being decked out in monochromatic outfits to the adorable, elderly women perfecting choreography – the video captivates watchers easily.

Staged in a swimming pool, the whimsical video tells a story about one contemplating their love for another. The resonating themes of desire and pessimism contrast impeccably with colors seen and track’s playfulness.

Easing into their momentum, Varsity continues to work on intriguing music while landing on bills alongside Japanese Breakfast, Mothers, and more. Creating personable music that’s close to my heart, I hope that this indie rock band positively impacts and performs near you sometime soon.

In the meantime, take a look at their latest video for "A Friend Named Paul" below:

Varsity's performing at Beat Kitchen Aug 31 with LVL UP and Fran! Buy tickets here and stay tuned with these locals below.

Photo by Kristina Pedersen

Photo by Kristina Pedersen

Written by Alicia Maciel (IG, Twitter: @eraseher_), a fan of hugs and the surfer emoji. This article can also be found on Decibelle.

Faux Furrs debuts new video "Timmy's Vacation"

Lighthearted, humorous personalities shine through in this local rock band's latest video "Timmy's Vacation" -- self-released August 9, 2018.

Alicia Maciel 

Based in Logan Square and playing venues around Chicago, garage-psych band Faux Furrs premiered a new track called "Timmy's Vacation" this August.

Faux Furrs, photo by Alicia Maciel

Faux Furrs, photo by Alicia Maciel

Gaining traction over the years from sharing bills with touring acts The Shivas and Spaceface to beloved locals like The Voluptuals and The Curls -- avid show goers may have noticed Faux Furrs lying low this summer.

Original members Ryan Deffet (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Ryan Shuck (drums) welcomed new additions Lena Rush (bass) and Ryan Nolen (guitar) enthusiastically. After countless jam and tracking sessions, Faux Furrs decided the time was right to get back into the swing of things.

Taken from a puppet's perspective, "Timmy's Vacation" is a bright, lively song with video footage shot over a year. Living up to the DIY mentality - check out the video shot, directed, and edited by Ryan Deffet and Ryan Shuck below.

Written by Alicia Maciel (IG, Twitter: @eraseher_), a fan of hugs and the surfer emoji. This article can also be found on Decibelle.

Guerilla Toss releases new single "Green Apple"

Taking over Chicago's Hideout September 22 and hitting cities from both coasts along the way, new-wave-jazz-meets-punk duo Guerilla Toss releases new track

Alicia Maciel  

Ecstatic to release Twisted Crystal [LP], NYC-based act Guerilla Toss keeps fans on their tip toes with the debut of "Green Apple". The second single (debuted August 16) instantly hits listeners with intergalactic tones and the vivaciousness catches anyone's interest from current followers to new ears. 

Guerilla Toss, courtesy of Force Field PR

Guerilla Toss, courtesy of Force Field PR

The core duo, Kassie Carlson (vocals) and Pete Negroponte (producer/vocalist), have outdone themselves - stylizing an organic punk take on art rock that's become GT's signature. The upcoming album showcases more complexity than their previous releases, with additional members Arian Shadier (textual guitar), Sam Lisabeth (keys), and Stephen Cooper helping bring the tracks to life.

To be considered catchy, pop jazz, psychedelic, punk, and even new wave doesn't happen quite often. Carlson's sing speak vocals are hypnotizing, especially layered with fascinating, outlandish effects.

Give a listen to "Green Apple" by Guerilla Toss and find ways to stay up-to-date with the band below.

Written by Alicia Maciel (IG, Twitter: @eraseher_), a fan of hugs and the surfer emoji.


“Born to Die” keeps on living

Ally Schell

This article is dedicated to the celebration of Lana Del Rey’s album Born to Die and its sixth year of being in the arms of fans.

Being a huge fan of Lana Del Rey, this article about her is long overdue. Lana Del Rey, Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, has been known for her soft tones and deep lyrics throughout the years. She began her humble beginning in New York and now lives in Los Angeles - claiming to fans that she lives under the ‘H’ of the Hollywood sign.

Her career started with a music video for “Video Games” and just overnight, she was a hit! The anticipation of Lana from her fans was tremendous and she delivered with her debut album Born to Die that became number two on the United States charts and number five for one of 2012's best sellers. To conclude, Lana Del Rey clearly started with a bang and even today this album has yet to fizzle out.


With violins playing a melancholy tune, you hear Lana begin her first song called “Born to Die”.  With most of her songs on this album, it is mainly based on heartbreak and love and the fuzzy in between. With this song it is nothing short of this, however it more of a self-realization. “Sometimes love is not enough and the road gets tough, I don’t know why”, is when she comes to see that this love she has for him isn’t going to work out. But before that she says “don’t make me sad, don’t make me cry” because she doesn’t want to think about it ending. Of course, this song is less about an actual breakup and more of the overarching problem that eventually they will die and that love will go with it. She wants it to last a lifetime but alas “we were born to die”.

Next, we have “Off to the Races”. In the track, she mentions "light of my life, fire of my loins", which could be a reference to the infamous book Lolita. It is also rumored that one of her tattoos is a reference to the novel's author. Lolita is written from a male perspective on his true love, who happens to be named Lolita. Although they are an unfit couple, he is intoxicated with her love. Lana states, “My old man is a bad man. But I can't deny the way he holds my hand,” which can be another mention to Lolita because the author is much older than the girl he loves and it he known to be bad due to this and many of his thoughts. As you can see there are many rumors circulated around this song and its connection to the book Lolita. It’s about forbidden love, its connection, and maybe even the thrill that the couple gets from this.

Ah young love, such a powerful substance. Lana captures this in her song “Video Games”.  She compliments him, by giving him everything she has “Its you, its you, its all for you. Everything I do”.  She puts her perfume on and is in his favorite sundress just to please him. She claims her love is “better than [she] ever knew” and is content that if he finds another, she will be happy because she wants him happy. The title is called “Video Games” from the games he plays both with her and on the TV while she tries to show off for him. All in all, this song is a torch song for the new age.  

Much like many songs on this album, “Dark Paradise” is the falling out of love and the fear that one lover will move on while the other won’t. Lana is the one, in this case, that fears her lover will move on. “Every time I close my eyes, its like a dark paradise” in reference to the dreams she has about her lost love. She doesn’t want to wake up from the dream because it is about him, which represents the paradise, but when she wakes the reality that he is not there represents the darkness. After this “I’m scared that you won’t be waiting on the other side” could be a reference to whether or not they will meet after death or if they will meet again in general. Lana says in her last lines that “I don’t want to wake up from this tonight” meaning she is not content with reality and just wants to keep dreaming because that’s the only time where they are together.

If you are new to this album, trust me you’re going to love it. Even if you’ve heard it a million times, you still can’t seem to skip it on your shuffled playlist, can you? Lana Del Rey has been with me since 2012 and continues to make music and perform in 2018!

Whether you are in your car shouting the lyrics with your friends, or crying in the balcony at her shows, she reaches your heart through her well thought out lyrics. So raise a toast to Lana Del Rey and her sixth year, and many years to come, of Born to Die - may you stay with us forever.

Catching up with Real Friends' Kyle Fasel

Kelley Sloot | June 2018

Real Friends begins Warped Tour this week and before the official tour begins, I got to hop on the phone with Kyle Fasel, the bassist of Real Friends, and ask him a few questions.

Photo credit: Megan Leetz

Photo credit: Megan Leetz

Q. You guys are currently on the road for Warped Tour… Is there one or two cities that you’re most excited for?

A. Kinda tough to say. We just haven’t toured in the U.S. in a while…It’s been a year. We’re starting here in Pomona (California), actually, we start the tour tomorrow. I’m pretty excited to play here because it’s been so long. Of course, we’re really excited for the Chicago date, it’s actually in Tinley Park, our home town. So yeah, really stoked for those two but we are really excited for the entire tour and getting back to it.

Q. Are you going to be playing any unreleased songs from Composure or are you going to mostly stick with the two songs that have already been released?

A. I think we’re just going to be playing the couple that have already been released from the record. I think in this setting it’s definitely better to play songs that everyone already knows.

Q. The From The Outside music video was recently released as well…How did you guys come up with the colorful concept of the entire thing?

A. The director, Caleb Mallory, was actually the one who came up with it. We thought it was a great idea and just all around a great video. It shows that everything looks happy on the surface, but there’s a lot more to it.

Q. Did each of you get to choose which color you played against?

A. Yeah! Well, I was supposed to be blue but Dan ended up being blue, I don’t really remember why. But for the most part we got to pick our colors.

Q. I was actually at the Composure listening party at Rowboat Creative last week and the turn out was awesome! How were the two other parties and how was it being able to talk one-on-one with fans?

A. I thought it was such a cool idea, especially because it was disguised as an acoustic show. But it was a reveal too because at that point, the album wasn’t even announced. So I thought it was really cool to reveal that to fans, especially in our home area. I think, when we were talking about the idea, we were really just all saying “What would we be stoked on? If we were a fan, what would be special to us?” And we came up with that idea.

I thought that it went over really well and it was cool for us to be able to do things that don’t involve us playing a concert. It adds more to the band. Don’t get me wrong, playing live is great and it’s one of the best parts of being in the band, but I do think it’s really important to be able to step outside of the box and have people come together for the band.

Q. That’s awesome! I went alone but I did hear a lot of the fans talking about the record and to you guys and I think it was definitely cool because with a live concert, there’s not as much of a personal basis as there was with the party. And I’ve never been to one of those before, so I thought it was really cool.

A. Yeah… It was really hot hahahaha. But it gives us a chance to go one-on-one with fans and be able to actually sit and talk for 10 minutes. Like for Warped Tour, everyday we’re doing a meet and greet, technically. But it’s really just a picture with the band. We don’t really have time to actually talk to people and hear how much they like the record and everything.

We’ve been a band for 8 years now, so the events were also cool because it’s a way for fans to socialize with each other. There’s a lot of groups that are friends because of our band. That’s crazy to me. I think those events can spark friendships as well.

Q. Okay well I have one more question for you! If you could go back in time and talk to yourself and the band when your record Maybe This Place is the Same and We’re Just Changing came out, what would you tell them as words of wisdom or advice?

A. Oh, that’s a tough question! It kind of almost goes back to what I was just talking about. I would push us to be more social with fans and really try to engage a bit more. We were never a band that sat in the corner to our bands. Those events over this past year have showed me that fans are everything. You know?

And I think that there were times in the past where we didn’t give the proper attention that I think we should have to the fans. Whether it be in a live setting or whether it be doing more fun and creative things like the listening party. So just socializing more with fans and trying to push boundaries even more creatively whether it be through events or at concerts.

Kyle has recently released his first poetry book titled nothing memorable stays the sameReal Friends is currently on tour with Warped Tour. Buy tickets here.

Composure will be released July 13th, 2018. You can pre-order the new album and check Real Friends out on social media through the links below.

Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify

Written by Kelley Sloot (IG, Twitter @kelleysloot).

We Are Scientists' Return + Summer Tour

Alicia Maciel | June 2018

We Are Scientists, a.k.a. "W.A.S.", are hitting the road this summer across the U.S. Members Keith Murray (guitar and lead vocals) and Chris Cain (bass guitar and backing vocals), started playing together back in 1997 and moved to NY in 2001. Known for taking indie rock pop in new directions for over a decade, We Are Scientists are coming to a city near you following the release of their sixth album Megaplex

Photo credit: Ted Leather

Photo credit: Ted Leather

Kicking off the tour June 13 at Boston's Sonia, the indie-rockers are coming to Chicago June 22 at The Empty Bottle. Full of hooks and fueled to positively influence listeners through their compositions, W.A.S.'s most recent release is bursting with bright tracks - making anyone want to dance. 

Megaplex is a ten track album recorded at Tim Wheeler from Ash’s Atomic Heart Studios in NYC and produced by Max Hart, whose work includes pop icon Katy Perry. The duo had tunnel vision set on making their sixth release creative, fun, and exciting - bringing We Are Scientists back on the map. Ready to reunite with fans on the dance floor, you could find W.A.S.'s links and tour dates down below. 

Megaplex by We Are Scientists (2018)

Megaplex by We Are Scientists (2018)

Written by Alicia Maciel (IG, Twitter: @eraseher_), a fan of hugs and the surfer emoji.

pronoun: standing alone + making waves in indie pop

Alicia Maciel | June 2018

On June 5th, pronoun hit the Windy City to wrap up a stacked tour featuring CitizenBasementSouvenirsANGEL DU$T, and Oso Oso. Recording an enticing Audiotree session in the heart of Wicker Park and playing Cobra Lounge later that night, the Brooklyn act was more than delighted to be in a place that reminded them of home. While the genres of the bands mentioned above range from rock to emo and hardcore, indie synth pop would be far from what's expected on the same show bill.

At first listen, pronoun's style could remind anyone of acts like Tegan and Sara, The Killers, and even Hippo Campus.  Having a handful of singles out including "wrong" and "run, we were excited to learn more about the solo, female indie act. pronoun had some time on the road and was able to provide some insight as to how their music came to life.


Q: Hey! Could you briefly introduce yourself?

A: Hi! I am Alyse, aka pronoun. I record, play, and produce all of the music for this project :D

Q: How did the project form and evolve into doing live performances?

A: Well, it started with me in my bedroom fumbling around my Squire and Pro Tools, adding layers and layers until I liked how the song sounded. Making the music was new for me, and I never expected to be playing live at all let alone on this level now.

When you're putting out music it's important to perform it, which I was very nervous about doing. My first show was way before I had put any songs out, I wanted to practice and be sure that the show was entertaining enough for when the music was released. Fast foward a couple of years and we have probably played over a hundred shows now. This latest tour (with Citizen) has brought my performance to a new level, I feel way more comfortable playing, singing, and on stage than I ever have before.

Q: Whoa - 100 shows already? That's fantastic to hear! I'm curious - how did you go about choosing the name pronoun? Any reasons it stuck?

A: In all honesty, a friend came up with it. However, when I revisited it after the fact I realized pronoun's can stand alone which is what I felt I was doing when I started this project.

Q: That's a lot deeper than I had anticipated. Assuming you have new work on the way, typically how long is the recording and composition process?

A: Really depends. The EP took about 1-2 days per song, this album is taking longer because I am in a different place emotionally and professionally in my day job. Putting out your first song/EP is very scary, however there's nothing to lose, no one knows who you are yet. I want to be sure that this album is a great next step and sounds like a new release, so I am putting a lot of time in to it.

Q: That's really inspiring! I've heard it's always difficult finding time to dive into recording when working a day job. Going further on composition - do you start with a riff, lyrics, or anything really?

Photo by Shervin Lainez

Photo by Shervin Lainez

A: Again really depends, but it's usually a guitar riff and the rest all follows shortly after. You can even hear it in each song out right now, each one has a specific guitar riff at the beginning, that's where the song started. 

Q: I'm a sucker for killer guitar riffs. I love how dancey yours are! Focusing on lyricism, do the lyrics tend to have deeper meanings, have a storytelling purpose, or are simply to convey emotions to your audience?

A: The lyrics are just very personal to me and I don't really write them with the audience in mind, but I do think that's why they stick out and can hit people in a significant way.

Q: Going beyond that, what emotions/messages would you like to resonate with your audience?

A: Stand up for yourself, know your worth, and never ever say never.

Q: If that saying doesn't keep you goin', I'm not sure what will! What's it like growing as a band in Brooklyn? What are you looking forward to? 

A: I'm looking forward to evolving my sounds and the themes of the music. I want to be around for a while and constantly be reinventing myself/music.

Q: Is the project heavily inspired by certain styles of music or bands?

A: Tons, off the top of my head it was Day Wave, Julien Baker, and The Japanese House who made me want to start making music again. But all in all - I think I am very influenced by Jimmy Eat World, The 1975, and a lot of other alternative rock bands that are being 100% true to themselves and their sounds. 

Looking forward to their bright future with nothing holding them back, pronoun's returning to Chicago this September to perform at Riot Fest! Reemphasizing the values of being true to yourself and developing as one grows - you can stay updated with pronoun by checking out any of the links down below.

Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify

Written by Alicia Maciel (IG, Twitter: @eraseher_).

The Prettybads - Houston's poppy punk trio makes debut

Alicia Maciel | June 2018

The rock scene's surging with tons of bands from down south. Houston band The Prettybads is releasing their debut full-length Meet The Prettybads June 15th through Indie Vision Music. Strutting their talents through what can be described as poppy "soft-core" punk, the trio combines their experiences, personal beliefs, and imagination into lighthearted tracks for everyone to hear.


Sticking true to punk rock roots, their self-recorded 20 track album shows what experiences and styles they've embraced together. Founding members and co-writers Jordan Prettybad and Kayla Prettybad have been composing side by side since 2007. In December 2016, Ben Bravo joined the band - transforming The Prettybads to the trio they are today. 

With songs running quick, infusing doo-wop with pop, melodrama, retro and plenty more - you'll dig their sound if you're a fan of acts Ramones, Ex-Girlfriends, The Interrupters, and Groovie Ghoulies. They're coming to Champagne-Urbana, Illinois and performing at AudioFeed Festival July 5!

Follow links below to stay in touch with The Prettybads!

Facebook | Instagram | Pre-order | AudioFeed Fest

Written by Alicia Maciel (IG, Twitter: @eraseher_).

Greg Holden's "On The Run" and on the road

Alicia Maciel | May 2018

Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Greg Holden debuted a new single called "On The Run" earlier this month. Produced by the one and only Butch Walker, who has worked with acts from Katy Perry to Weezer, this single follows up Chase the Sun, his third full-length studio album.


Scottish-born and English-raised, this musician has turned heads the past few years - being recognized as an independent artist all over. Best known for writing Phillip Phillips' hit track "Home", he's earned praise from the likes of Cher to NPR and even Zane Lowe. 

Greg Holden is hitting the road this summer, headlining shows across Europe and tickets can be purchased HERE. A full list of shows can be found down below.

Greg Holden Tour Dates:

July 18th – Hamburg, DE @ Nochtspeicher

July 20th – Frankfurt, DE @ Venue TBA

July 21st – Cologne, DE @ The Nomad Music Festival

July 24th – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso

July 25th – Hannover, DE @ Faust

July 26th – Berlin, DE @ Frannz

July 27th – Munich, DE @ Zehner Club

July 28th – Tettnang, DE @ Schlossgarten Open Air #


August 1st – London, UK @ Venue TBA

August 2nd – London, UK @ St. Pancras Old Church

# w/ Revolverheld

The Fratellis to headline Metro

Alicia Maciel | May 2018

Scottish rock trio The Fratellis are finally returning to Chicago after 3 years! Headlining a sold out show at Metro Friday, May 11 presented by 101 WKQX, the legendary nightclub will create an intimate setting for their long waited return. Their last show in the city at The Vic Theatre was filled with high energy, countless improvisation, and all hockey fans singing along to "Chelsea Dagger". The Fratellis are traveling the U.S. roads promoting their fifth studio album In Your Own Sweet Timevia Cooking Vinyl Limited.


Adding to what may be their most pop release yet, the twelve track album continues to bring the band's signature style - playful, rhythmic, and sophisticated lyricism and instruments. While personal favorites from the new album include surf pop "Sugartown", Beach Boys influenced "Starcrossed Lovers",  and a synth pop development on their well-known style "The Next Time We Wed" - fans never know how the songs will be performed live.

Keep an eye out for European rockers The Fratellis and our coverage of their show!

Moose Blood to Play Chicago's House of Blues

Formed in  Canterbury, England, Moose Blood self-released their first EP titled Bukowski Demo in 2012. Since then, they have signed to  No Sleep Records and Hopeless Records and released three full length studio albums. The band consists of Eddy Brewerton (vocals/guitar), Mark Osbourne (lead guitar/vocals), Kyle Todd (bass), and Lee Munday (drums). Their latest album, I Don’t Think I Can Do This Anymore, was released on March 9th following their two earlier releases, I’ll Keep You in Mind, From Time to Time (2014) and Blush (2016). They are currently touring the US and will go on to Canada, Europe, and Australia in the coming months.

Photo compliments of Moose Blood

Photo compliments of Moose Blood