Tuesday night’s show at the Empty Bottle featured three relatively up-and-coming bands that redefine their parent genres and challenge what it means to sound like a “post-rock” band. In an era of the urge to define and label, each artist deftly escaped preconceived notions on a rainy, quieter night at the Bottle.
First up was Chicago three-piece, Lume. Covering the post-grunge category, they delivered with plodding rhythms with a slow and deliberate pace. Singer and guitarist Daniel Butler mixed aggressive riffs with haunting, melodic vocals supported by chunky bass lines.
True to their name, the band engaged in light play with soft illumination while plumes of smoke billowed from underneath the drum kit. The set shifted towards a more decidedly stoner doom path as the stage continued to fill with smoke. Although the trio became almost completely obstructed from view, the small but captivated crowd hung on every hook, and let themselves get carried away in the wave of hypnotic sounds.
Moving into the post-hardcore realm, Chastity took the stage under a menacing red glow. Brandon Williams and company (also joined by Mourn’s Leia Rodríguez on bass) delivered a blend of nostalgic 90s grooves and dissonant slacker punk trademark elements.
Visually speaking, Brandon Williams is an enchanting cross between Glenn Danzig and Ministry’s Al Jourgensen. He stood confidently at the monitor, towering over all else with his head nearly reaching the stage lights. Performing tracks from the debut full length album, Death Lust, Williams belted each song earnestly, toting the album’s theme of brutal vulnerability.
Chastity is best described by its esoteric attributes rather than a specific musical genre. Some tracks like “Suffer” have vocal delivery subtly akin to an old school R&B jam while others like “Choke” is a page ripped directly from the pages of punk. However, they all feel incredibly raw and cathartic, giving a new depth and level of creativity to the “post” family.
The charming Spanish quartet, Mourn, brought a sense of vitality and enthusiasm to the post-punk branch of the tree. Their unfiltered passion shown through as they delivered a no-nonsense, “F you” attitude with a smile.
Although they have just entered their 20s, the group is mature beyond their years; partly by nature, partly by the circumstances that were dealt to them early on in their career. In 2016, they battled a legal dispute with their previous label which was an unfortunate setback while they were promoting their sophomore release, Ha, Ha, He.
But instead of merely touting that “post-punk” attitude, they continued on and rebounded from the drama that ensued. Two years later, they’re back on tour in support of their latest release, Sorpresa Familia.
They took the stage and huddled around the drum set, each member with a stick in hand. A ferocious, synchronized rhythm reverberated throughout, commanding everyone’s immediate attention.
All four of them grinned at each other before taking their respective places on stage, opening with the infectious “Barcelona City Tour.” Co-singer and guitarist Jazz Rodríguez Bueno followed with the dark origins behind the next song, “Skeleton,” offering the playful conclusion that they only “write songs about people they hate.”
As facetious as that statement may be, the frustration that the group experienced was clearly fuel for the genius that is Sorpresa Familia. Although they played older songs (notably “Second Sage” and “Otitis”) they did go hard on the new material, proudly rocking out bangers like “Strange Ones” and “Doing It Right.”
Towards the end of the set, Chastity’s Brandon Williams was ushered on stage for backing vocals on “Sun,” a pensive and beautiful way to end the set.
And just like that, all of the pent up energy was released, sending everyone back out into the rainy night.