By Matt Pais
RedEye Sound Board
April 24, 2013
The abundance of great Chicago bands never ceases, or ceases to impress.
That’s obvious again as more than 150 local acts entered our 10th annual Rock ’n’ Vote contest. These are the 10 best who now compete for your votes—read about them here and, more importantly, listen to them to hear why they were chosen. Vote through 7 p.m. Sunday for who you want to see in concert--the top 4 vote-getters appear at our free show 7:30 p.m. May 14 at House of Blues (17+). On-site voting determines the 2013 Rock ’n’ Vote winner, who earns a slot July 14 at Taste of Chicago!
Neighborhood: South Loop
Sound: Incredibly catchy modern pop the band has been conceptualizing and honing for the past two years
Influences: Singer Ryan Greshock, 26, prefers not to pin AboveWaves to a particular genre or band but does name Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Coldplay and Radiohead.
Live show: “It’s really polished; it’s really tight,” says Greshock. The band recently had its first Chicago show at Subterranean; its first-ever show was a SXSW showcase.
Claim to fame: Featured on sonicbids.com; worked with Mark Needham (Katy Perry, Pink, Neon Trees, Imagine Dragons)
Neighborhood: Little Italy/UIC
Sound: Beautifully toe-tapping rock-pop. Says singer/guitarist Kevin Kiley, 21: “We like to make music we think people want to listen to. We don’t try to be like self-indulgent and just making the music we want to make.”
Influences: The Strokes, The Black Keys, Jet
Live show: It can get rowdy. “Everybody tends to be drinking quite heavily,” says Kiley, the lone Columbia College attendee in a band of UIC students. “We drink a little bit, but the crowd seems to be drinking together.”
Claim to fame: Playing at Metro.
Sound: A soulful take on pop-rock. Bell, 22, started playing guitar in third or fourth grade—his parents thought it would help him do better in school. Did it? “It probably became more of a distraction,” he says. “You kind of rush through homework so you can start playing guitar again.”
Influences: John Mayer, John Legend, Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Frank Ocean
Live show: An energetic effort to connect within the band and to the audience, Bell says.
Claim to fame: Worked with Joe Jonas on the CW show “The Next”; made it to blind audition round on “The Voice” but didn’t audition because the teams were full
Sound: Tight, deliberate, hard-hitting rock, formed a bass-less, two-guitars-and-drums concept.
Influences: Queens of the Stone Age, The Raconteurs, Jack White
Live show: Extravagant and circus-themed, featuring marching band attire, female backup dancers in parade outfits and a confetti-shooting cannon barrel, which they shot off at Double Door
Claim to fame: Reviews have been good for the band’s debut video, “Walk in Place,” but, says singer/guitarist Joe Shadid, 25, their claim to fame "was [bleeping] blowing that cannon.”
Neighborhood: Wicker Park
Sound: Spot-on indie pop with EDM elements that singer/multi-instrumentalist Kyle Mann (who lives in Elmhurst) describes as a mix of Cut Copy and Hall and Oates.
Influences: Twin Shadow, Beach Boys, New Order, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, James Blake, MGMT
Live show: The electronic sound on record becomes more of a raw, powerful rock show, Mann says, saying many people say Dozens (whose three members are in their mid-20s and all sing) sounds bigger than a trio on stage.
Claim to fame: Performing at Taste of Chicago 2012, Metro, Lincoln Hall; featured on ListenBeforeYouBuy.net
DVS Jackson, Esq.
Neighborhood: South Shore
Sound: Jazzy, lyrically precise hip-hop that the 38-year-old rapper—a poet who’s not actually a lawyer and says he delayed releasing music for fear of being judged--says he always wants to be accessible
Influences: KRS-One, Rakim, J. Dilla, Kendrick Lamar, Drake
Live show: “I act the fool,” DVS says. “Primarily I’m there so I enjoy myself, and if you enjoy yourself as a result, that’s great.”
Claim to fame: Worked with Simeon Viltz of Chicago rap outfit the Primeridian
Neighborhood: Roscoe Village via Kansas City, Mo.
Sound: A hummable blend of classic rock and country. It’s sometimes dubbed “prairie punk,” says 24-year-old singer Renee Kuhl (pronounced “cool”), who fronts the five-piece band with her sister Grace and adds that they’ve played “pretty much every dirty bar in town.”
Influences: Crazy Horse, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Pearl Jam, Alanis Morissette
Live show: “A lot of hair flipping,” says Kuhl. “And a lot of really loud guitar rock. We’re girls, but we really like to kick ass.”
Claim to fame: Headlining Metro and being featured in the Tribune
Neighborhood: West Lawn/Mount Greenwood native now living in Bucktown
Sound: Folk-country that’s nicely mixes sweetness and sorrow
Influences: John Prine, Bob Dylan, Laura Marling
Live show: Fun and peppered with stage banter, says the 24-year-old singer/songwriter, who’s played guitar since she was 13. “We highly recommend drinking and dancing. Yes, always in that order.”
Claim to fame: Playing Lincoln Hall; playing during “Bar Rescue” episode at Abbey Pub
Sound: Classic hip-hop that the 20-year-old rapper, who started writing music every day after high school, says also aims to put a positive spin on elements from trap music
Influences: Kendrick Lamar, Tito Lopez, Lauryn Hill, Tupac, MC Lyte
Live show: Very goofy and animated, Sunnie Storm says, featuring a wide variety of facial expressions
Claim to fame: Coverage on whackstars.com and goill.net.
Neighborhood: North Center
Sound: Featuring DePaul and Northwestern alums, the eight-piece band (which features four singers, three of whom rap regularly) likes to say they play “Chicago funk love,” guitarist Chris Miller, 24, says. I’d say it’s a party-starting, lyrically playful jam session that undoes some of the damage that Owl City and Jason Mraz have done to wordplay.
Influences: The Roots, Cody Chesnutt, Beastie Boys
Live show: “Breathe when you can,” Miller notes, “because we don’t stop.” That means a lot of dancing and music playing even when someone from the group is addressing the audience.
Claim to fame: Opening for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (and Dessa and K. Flay) at SXSW; having an interview with them picked up on Jay-Z’s Life and Times site; their self-titled album hitting the front page of Reddit, earning 100,000 plays overnight and support from as far as Paris and Australia; previously winning three battle-of-the-bands competitions
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC