The 92s at The Throne Room, 6.6.14 + Venue Review
w/ In Threes and The Queue
There is a new music venue in town! For a neighborhood already filled to the brim with small-to-medium sized venues like Schubas, Beat Kitchen, Elbo Room, The Vic, and Metro, Lakeview can now brag about one more - The Throne Room. Located in East Lakeview near Diversey and Broadway, The Throne Room actually sits above an already established neighborhood favorite, Renaldi's Pizza. I loved reading the backstory on this place. Husband and wife owners Mark and Kamila Bruscianelli share a passion for music, and being musicians themselves, wanted to provide a space for upcoming local artists to put on gigs. So where would be a better place to host concerts than above your dad's neighborhood pizza joint? The whole establishment is family-run, with Frank and Georgeann in charge of Renaldi's Pizza, and Mark and Kamila now running The Throne Room. I'm particularly glad to hear that they fully support the idea of finding quality bands & artists to play there, and will be putting a lot of thought into each weekend's lineup. As of now, they are bringing in live music on Friday and Saturday nights. And for a place that just had its grand opening two weekends ago (May 30), it seems that The Throne Room has been getting a decent amount of publicity. It was listed in the Red Eye's latest summer Music Guide insert and the Chicagoist also had a nice article on the space. My personal favorite takeaway point on the venue? Shows are 21+. Nothing against teens, buuut it's just better when there's a more, let's say, appreciative crowd. Who can (legally) hold their liquor. And also, it makes me feel less old..
All that being said, I knew I had to go check out this place. With nothing in particular planned for last Friday night, I pulled up TTR's website/Facebook page and decided to do some research on who was playing that weekend. Sidenote: if you ever want to keep up to date on a band or venue that has a Facebook page, hit the "Like" button and you'll automatically see their updates in your News Feed. I know it sounds really stupid and common sensical, but it helps me keep track of everyone I like to support and follow. Friday's lineup had two acoustic shows listed for In Threes and The Queue, and the headliner was a band called The 92s. Usually before going to a show, if it's a band that I've never heard of, I will do a few things: 1. Listen to their studio recordings (via Spotify, if possible) and 2. Do a quick YouTube search to see if they can hold their own during a live performance. The 92s is still considered a local "underground" band so I didn't find too many videos out there, but they do have their latest album, Television Fuzz, out on Spotify. I really like their sound. I guess one would call them "indie rock". They are definitely on the same wavelength as other indie rockers like Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra. Definitely can hear some Weezer-inspired bits in there. Maybe some Say Anything influences? Lead singer Dan Durley has the same kind of vibrato that Kevin Devine has, which goes well with the guitar fuzziness and upbeat tempos of their songs. The rest of the band includes Matt Mullen (drums) and Rob Marshall (lead guitar); sadly, this was actually bassist's Mike Altergott's last show with The 92s [I hear they're looking for a replacement]. The 92s formed during college at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after Dan Durley put out an EP (Don't Bury Me) which had more of a folksy-pop sound to it. The 92s collaborated to put out a louder version of Durley's songs, with more distortion, grit, and full-band backing. For now, it seems they mostly play shows around their college town by U of I. "But where else have I heard of The 92s?", you might ask. They won the 2012 Red Eye Rock 'N Vote. NBD.
The venue itself is a really cool space. I was able to hang out downstairs at the bar, Renaldi's After Dark, for a while before the show (doors opened at 8pm but no one really went up until 9pm), which has a pool table and full bar. The upstairs space has a loft-vibe with high ceilings and exposed brick walls; there's a small bar in the back with a decent selection of beers on draft, and an assortment of tables and chairs and stools in between the bar and stage up front. Being that it wasn't super crowded on this particular night, there was plenty of seating available so that everyone pretty much sat at a table and just hung out with their friends. The stage was set up in front of some street facing windows, covered with curtains to block out the evening street light. One thing I would like to see improved is the overall stage lighting, mostly because I had a tough time getting photos with enough light to really see the band. But that would be an easy update. Also, having a ground-level stage can sometimes make or break a show - depending on the size of the crowd and of course, their level of rowdiness. But for smaller, intimate shows with table seating available, it serves its purpose in creating a very relaxed, comfortable set up. And it makes TTR different from some of the other venues like Schubas or Metro, which have standing room only.
Anyway. Is it weird to say that I've been slightly obsessed with Television Fuzz ever since I heard it? Happy to say that their live set was just as great as the album. After slightly disappointing "acoustic" openings by In Threes and The Queue (I hate to be mean, but I don't hear them being much more than local bands that play small gigs at coffee shops...), I was a tiny bit skeptical about whether my night could be turned around. But once The 92s hit the stage, I felt the room go through a major mood swing. The band's presence on stage was confident, but not cocky; not over-rehearsed, but also didn't feel like just another one of your friends garage bands playing a Friday night gig. The guys somehow pulled off this easy going, let's-play-a-show-and-just-hang-out kind of vibe, while at the same time proving that they have some serious talent. Definite potential to make it big. Their set list included songs like "Cutlery Wives" (new music video soon to come), title track "Television Fuzz", "Neurotic Laundry List", "You Are Not Near Enough", "Put Me In My Place", and a few older songs like "Folks" and "Full of Tricks". There was even a Weezer cover mixed in there. My favorites to recommend? If you're feeling angsty, listen to "Neurotic Laundry List"; if you're in a good place, listen to "You Are Not Near Enough". But definitely check out the whole album. You'll be happy about it, I promise.
Moral of the story?
1. The Throne Room is a great addition to the Lakeview music scene. It has a great family vibe and you can tell that the owners really put in a lot of time and heart and soul into making this place a success. I'll be keeping up with their shows and hopefully will discover some more local bands like this to check out. Don't worry, I'll keep ya posted!
2. The 92s are awesome. I am really hoping that they start to branch out and play more Chicago venues and festivals. [Actually it has been confirmed that they are going to officially relocate to Chicago this summer..yay!] The guys have proven capable of holding their own on stage, and could easily (and loudly) control a much bigger stage. Even better, their music is appealing across the board - from the lyrics to the masterful combination of lead and rhythm guitar lines, The 92s have come out with a solid album from start to finish. You can buy it off their website (see below) - digital download for a "Name Your Price" deal - but definitely support these guys with an appropriate amount of money. It takes hard work to make it in this world! And if you can, go see a live show. They perform with just the right mix of energy, honesty, and passion that makes me wonder why they aren't getting more attention. It's clear to me at least that The 92s are a band to watch out for. I'm certainly a fan now. Go support this local band while you can - I am sure that they are bound to do big things.
PS. I did win a free pizza coupon. Who wants to go back with me?
Think: Manchester Orchestra; Kevin Devine; Weezer; Margot & The Nuclear So So's
"All I need to set me free is another one.."