Chicago's Stranger Waves have been getting quite a bit of press lately. They've done in-stores at Permanent Records and have started playing an increasing number of shows in the city. Last weekend alone, they played two shows, one at Schubas on Friday of course and another the very next night at The Hideout. The three piece are young...so young they have x's on their hands and attend their high school prom. Yet, their youth brings a promising start to a band that could continue to garner many more fans with this kind of pace and focus.
I was actually at Schubas on Friday to see Clues. I'm a fan of both Arcade Fire and the unfortunately now defunct Unicorns and Clues has members from each, so I was incredibly intrigued. Surely, the band has great potential given their connections and talent. Yet, the songs came off as a little disjointed, like a set of disconnected and somewhat schizophrenic Architecture in Helsinki songs. The constant band switching between instruments and vocals made their set impressive in the sense of each member being seemingly equal in the composition of songs overall and the sense of ability inherent in having the skill to sing and play multiple instruments. However, it also added to the disruption of the flow of their set. They also (in a way that appeared purposeful) transformed the otherwise gorgeously-lit Schubas with a dull red which minimized any sense of stage presence and made their constant switching appear as a dark mess. I think this band could be great with a few smoother transitions and better lighting. The music, of course, is the most important element but I'm sure part of the reason why many people go to see any band instead of staying home listening to their music is to actually see the members in action on stage.
Because of these issues, it's not surprising that in many ways Stranger Waves stole the show. The band was tight, energetic, and appeared to be having the time of their lives. They had visible personality rocking out sometimes with their backs to the floor and their headstocks held high. Given their garage rock sound and their youthful vigor, they'll probably be stuck in quite a few Black Lips comparisons (both lead singers also have somewhat of a physical resemblance) but I'm hoping the more they play, the more they will be recognized as something special and unique. Though, who doesn't also love a good classic cover, right? Happily, the band has the potential to do that as well, playing Wreckless Eric's classic tune "Whole Wide World" with happy abandon. It wasn't just the night overall that seemed suddenly more exciting while they were playing, it was our whole city.