Review: Chicago Celebrates Deeper’s Album Release at the Empty Bottle

The Empty Bottle saw a lot of bottles emptied last Friday. The night wasn't just a concert; it was a celebration. Local DIY band staple Deeper played their debut album release show.

With well over a third of the audience in local bands, Chicago’s music scene showed their support for the four-piece. The bill also reflected the city’s blossoming music community, featuring art-rockers Pool Holograph and the duo Earring, who consists of Jason Balla (NE-HI, Dehd) and Alex Otake (NE-HI).

For anyone who’s seen NE-HI live, it’s not surprising that the duo, which features NE-HI’s frontman and drummer, played with the energy and ferocity of a full band. This was their first show in nearly two years and they captivated the audience with their haunting brand of garage rock. (Deeper and Earring are now label mates on Fire Talk Records.)

Earring's Jason Balla

Pool Holograph, who might be best described as Microcastles-era Deerhunter fronted by a painter, captivated the audience with their angular and anxious rock performance. They’re one of Chicago’s most underrated bands, as frontman Wyatt Grant jumped on stage as if possessed. They played each note with intention but also with a masterful looseness.

Deeper’s full-length album took nearly three years of writing and rehashing. Over the past few years, the band perfected their set and sound in basements. The work is paying off, as they’ve gained articles or mentions in the Chicago Tribune, Paste Magazine, Pitchfork, among others.

In the album premiere of Deeper’s self-titled on Vice Magazine’s Noisey, frontman Nic Gohl said, “I have anxiety up the ass and I realized that songwriting is a really good way to get rid of that.” Tension filled the mood of Deeper's songwriting, but it also morphed into excitement as Gohl belted into the microphone and as the chunky bass propelled throughout their set. As an Impose Magazine interviewer wrote when interviewing the band, their music evokes a sense that “everything’s burdened with the pain of feeling too much.”

Pool Holograph

Post-punk syncopation and ambient textures tie into Deeper’s recent slew of singles. Performing the songs ahead of their official release this Friday, the band gave us a preview of what’s to come. Beckoning the likes of post-punk bands like Wire, Joy Division, or Gang of Four, the band plays on bills with the likes of the Protomartyr, Iceage, and Omni, in addition to opening for some of Chicago's most beloved rock acts, like Twin Peaks, Whitney, and NE-HI.

At a place like the Empty Bottle or Cole’s, you get a lineup full of bonafide rock bands from Chicago, the ones who you'll later see headline Chicago's larger venues or at summer festivals across the country. These are the sort of bands that remind you of the sheer energy and creativity of Chicago’s music artists, and these are the sort of nights you can’t forget, no matter of how much $3 Old Styles you down in between sets.

See Deeper next on June 3 at Do Division Festival, listen to their album ahead of time via Noisey, and pre-order their album via their website.

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Colin Smith

Colin Smith thinks that Chicago right now is the place to be for music. He works for Illinois Humanities, is a freelance writer, and plays psychedelic-pop songs with his band.