Thursday, May 31, 2007
The Chicago Sound?
For a lot of musicians and people, Chicago has always been the father figure for the Midwest. The most fully realized city of this region, it also happens to have the only music scene that registers on a national level.
My memories of Chicago (where I lived as a child) was a giant blizzard and then a dangerous ice storm on my older brother's birthday. We waited around at home with bated breath as my dad drove him home from somewhere on the icy roads in order to get to the party.
The weather in Chicago is brutal, especially for somone like me who hates the cold. I also hate the wind. Then there is the fact that Lake Michigan is freezing cold all year long. But I digress.
My point is that it takes a certain resilience to live in Chicago. It's more expensive than any other Midwestern city, so you have to be a bit more of a hustler. But it also pays off if you can brave the conditions.
The music scene in Chicago has always been exciting to me as a fan of indie rock. When I was in college Urge Overkill popped into the mainstream for a bit around the early to mid-90s. That band used to come around to perform at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus when I was in college.
After every show lead singer Nash Kato would walk with us down to the old Skully's location (when it was in the lower level of a strip mall on campus). He was incredibly nice to us and was pretty down to earth. Sometimes he would just show up at a bar in town unexpected. If they were playing with another great band, he would introduce you to them.
Then there was Veruca Salt, also made up of some genuinely nice people, who would often shoot the shit with their fans and hang out at local bars. It always seemed to me that if a band was from Chicago, they were always more apt to be nice. It is what has always drawn me to the city's music scene. That and the fact that it spawned Wilco.
Historically, I would say that Chicago has produced some of the great retro pop bands of recent history. The music seems to focus on the pop side of indie rock. Harmonies seem prevalent, as does great melodies.
So now I have begun delving into the current underground indie rock scenes going on there. Perhaps we can find some new voices that may sprout out of these modern times.
The only problem with Chicago is that it's similar to New York, in that the city is made up of small towns. It seems each small town has its own scene. As an outsider I never have any clue where to begin. But I'm working on that.
I just have to keep telling myself that we broke through the wall into Cleveland.
It can be done.