Review: Slow Pulp, Paul Cherry, and Vundabar Thawed Wicker Park

A drunk man close to me leaned his body over the Subterranean’s upper balcony to shout “LET’S FUCKING ROCK AND ROLL!” to the Boston trio Vundabar. He did yell incomprehensibly, which led to frontman Brandon Hagen asking for him to repeat himself. This he repeated a few times. Meanwhile, teenagers filed to the front of the stage, forming a mosh pit with the greatest number of people wearing glasses smashing into each other I’ve ever seen.

Waves of minors formed along the intersection of Damen and North (aka “The Crotch”) to get into the SubT. All-ages shows can be far and few between, but with Boston’s rockers Vundabar it’s a requirement: someone in the crowd said being 24 at the show venue made her feel old.

With the temperature reaching a balmy 42 degrees in the middle of winter, the show made for a pleasant recovery after the “polar vortex.” Slow Pulp, having just moved to Chicago from Madison, opened the night with psychedelic guitar tones and lead singer Emily Massey’s dreamy vocals.

The show sold out, which helped create an atmosphere that we were about to experience something special. And though the sound at the Subterranean can be a challenge (especially in their upstairs venue with its two-level venue space), Paul Cherry’s band sounded full—complete with triangle, duo synthesizers, and other miscellaneous percussions.

Vundabar opened with their stomper “$$$,” and the amount of the energy as a three piece they gave the crowd is a feat. As a band formed by high school friends, their comfortable and laidback vibe onstage was matched equally by their effortless ability to rock hard on stage. Most people left with beads of sweat that night, which was a welcome change after -40° weather.

Between shouting along to Vundabar and all the moshing, the camaraderie the band created with their music captured the spirit of the night. At the end of the day, Vundabar gave us a cathartic release through their anthemic brand of rock bangers. And because, maybe, like several decades before, at the end of the day people just want to twist and shout— you know, like the man over the balcony yelled, to rock and roll.

Colin S. Smith
Colin S. 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.