Review: Alt-Rock Makes a Comeback Via Quarters of Change at Chop Shop

New York natives, Quarters of Change, sold out a Monday night show at the Chop Shop on one of many stops during their Into The Rift tour. The quartet is inspiring new fans of alternative rock around the world with their first full-length album and tour’s namesake.

This Monday evening, the venue has the vibe of a frat party—Montucky cold snacks in almost every hand and young women dressed like they’re going to a dance club. It was my first time at this venue and the audience here didn’t disappoint. The energy was great and there weren’t any belligerent frat bros like I assumed there might be. It’s nice to see that alternative rock is making a comeback as a genre and attracting young crowds.

Joining Quarters of Change on tour is a band called Late Night Drive Home from El Paso, Texas. Their presence on stage was moody, which matched their indie rock sound perfectly. Their gritty sound and angsty lyrics, belted out in both in English and Spanish, delighted the audience. They played several tracks from their debut album How Are We Feeling? including “Painted Lady” and “The Garden.” Along with their newest music they sprinkled in some of their best-known tunes like “Stress Relief” from their 2021 EP released in 2021 Am I Sinking or Am I Swimming? Their latest release is an incredibly sad and haunting tune that I've been listening to on repeat for a whole day— you can check it out below.

I saw lead vocalist Andre Portillo and guitarist Juan "Ockz" Vargas in the crowd later during Quarters of Change’s set mingling and hanging with fans, which is nice to see from any artist.

Quarters of Change took the stage a little earlier than they were set to, which is never upsetting to me. They opened with “Jaded” from Into The Rift, full of energy. The group didn’t waste much time with stage banter, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind at all. Quarters of Change entranced their audience with stage presence and moved around with an ease that shows they know each other well. The members often caught each other’s eyes during the set, breaking out into huge smiles and sometimes even laughter. Lead vocalist Ben Roter switched between primarily vocals to picking up his guitar that lay on the floor in front of Attila’s drum set for a couple songs. Joining the quartet on stage was hired bassist Mark who meshed so well with everyone onstage I wouldn’t have known he wasn’t an original member of the band.

They may have only one album out, but Quarters of Change have been consistently producing singles and EPs since their formation in 2017. I was surprised by their 2018 EP Cyclone Trips, it is reminiscent of Rx Bandits circa 2006 minus the wind instruments, plus a post-hardcore guitar rift flare. Members Ben Acker, Attila Anrather, Jasper Harris, and Ben Roter all come from strong musical influence. Each of their fathers encouraged a commitment to musical arts, thus the four have been making music together since high school.  Only four months after the release of their EP New Hour in 2021 they signed a record deal with 300 Entertainment which boasts huge artists including Megan Thee Stallion.

The setlist on Monday night obviously included songs from their newest release but was sprinkled with stellar singles and very early releases as well. It included “Blue Copper”, “Ms. Dramatic”, “T Love”, “Chloe”, “I Only Love You”, “Dead”, “To Let Go”, my personal favorite “Kiwi”, and finished off with “Depression”, one of their first ever releases. They didn’t attempt to do a fake-out by leaving the stage before their encore, but the audience chanted for one all the same to which Quarters of Change obliged by playing the night out to “Sofia” and “Rift”.

All photos by Shaela Johnston.

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Shaela Johnston

Shaela is a West-Coast born freelance photographer and writer, relatively new to Chicago as of 2021. Specializing in live music photography, Shaela can be found attending concerts several times a week when she isn't traveling or working on her Bachelor's degree. In her free time she listens to metal, hardcore, hip-hop, and likes to chill at home with her hairless cat named Soup and wife Courtney.