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RedEye Rock 'n' Vote 2012 Top 10

April 25, 2012|By Matt Pais | RedEye Sound Board


After 9 years of facing off Chicago bands in our Rock ‘n’ Vote competition, you might think the city would run out of strong candidates.

You would be wrong.

This year we received a record 170 submissions to our contest and chose these 10 bands to fight for your approval. Read about them and listen to tracks from these artists, which say more than any biographical information can. Vote through midnight Sunday for who you want to see live; the top 4 vote-getters play our free show May 16 at Hard Rock Café (headlined by former Rock 'n' Vote finalist Rockie Fresh), with on-site voting at the show determining the ultimate Rock ‘n’ Vote 2012 winner--who earns a spot performing July 15 at Taste of Chicago.

Listen up; this crop is as good as any we’ve ever had.

The 92s
Home base: Palos Park/Orland Park/Elgin
Need to know: Originating as a solo project for singer-guitarist Dan Durley, the 92s now put full-band spins on the songs Durley--who, yes, was born in 1992—recorded on the excellent EP “Don’t Bury Me.” “They’re folk songs at the heart,” says Durley, 19, who aimed to combine grittier aspects of punk, shoegaze and noise rock with folk-pop.  “There’s a juxtaposition between the pretty and the noisy.”
Influences: Manchester Orchestra, Wilco, Say Anything, Mike Golden and Friends
Live show: A “weirder,” more distorted version of the band’s recorded material. “It’s much more full of character than you can capture on an album,” Durley says.
Claim to fame: Maintaining a commitment to charitable organizations, including playing benefit shows for Amnesty International, to raise autism awareness and donating 25 percent of Bandcamp and iTunes sales to the Red Cross

Home base: Logan Square
Need to know:  Before forming her band in Kansas (and then moving to Chicago about two years ago), singer/guitarist Hawley Shoffner performed ukulele-centered bedroom pop. Now, however, she has embraced a fuller, more electric approach. “I’ve heard that I look like a very unlikely person to play electric guitar, so usually people are surprised that it’s as loud as it actually is,” says Shoffner, 24. Thanks to her highly expressive voice, “Dirt” achieves something sweet underneath all the raucousness, while “Suzannah” and “Sirs and Madams” take control of your foot and your heart, respectively.
Influences: John Cale, PJ Harvey, Fugazi
Live show: All electric guitar, which delivers something livelier than the band’s self-titled record
Claim to fame: Performing at venues like Lincoln Hall and Subterranean, “’ ’cause I’ve never been able to play legit venues or anything like that,” says Shoffner.

Hospital Garden
Home base: Pilsen/Lakeview/Logan Square
Need to know: Formed in Dayton, Ohio in 2007, Hospital Garden—which takes its name from a William Carlos Williams poem--came to Chicago in 2009 and made its biggest mark with last year’s blistering full-length “Haunter.” The sound? “Indie noise pop,” a term coined by a Dayton newpaper that singer/guitarist Lucas Hollow, 29, agrees with. “It’s pop-rock, but it tends to get a little louder and noisier than a lot of other bands.”
Influences: Guided by Voices, Wavves, The Ramones
Live show: Hollow’s description is as effectively straightforward as the band’s music: “Loud and energetic. We love playing.”
Claim to fame: Opened for Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices at Dayton Music Festival; positive press for “Haunter” from Loud Loop Press, Razorcake

Kirby Kaiser
Home base: Boystown
Backstory: Kaiser, 19, began writing music in high school: “I was just upset about a guy and listening to Fiona Apple.” She soon got into older music, and in September released her self-titled debut EP, which perfectly marries affectionate, retro soul sounds with a voice that doesn’t sound like she’s just starting out.  It’s “a ‘60s girl group vibe, but with a little bit of a modern twist,” says Kaiser, who loves the harmonies of the era and how “it sounds really sentimental and beautiful. I just really want to recreate it.” A new EP will drop this summer.
Influences: Fiona Apple, The Ronettes, Shangri-Las, Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield
Live show: Kaiser just rounded up a live band, expecting to front an 8-piece, “old-school” operation with dancing backup singers.
Claim to fame: Kaiser marvels at the blog love (including Do 312) that has come her way since releasing her EP. “I was thinking it might just be I showed this music to my friends, and it didn’t really go any further.” Not with a voice like that.

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