As part of a wave of nearly two thousand newly approved low-power stations across the country, Bridgeport’s Lumpen Radio, self-proclaimed “weirdo radio station in Chicago for weirdo people everywhere,” has officially expanded to the FM airwaves.
Ruben L. Garza, Jr. is the vocalist for Through N Through, a four-person band of Little Village natives who write music about their experiences growing up young and Latinx on the South Side. They are not the first to do so: punk bands like Los Crudos have become synonymous with the local music scene in Little Village and Pilsen by wearing their heritage on their sleeves. But Through N Through is different. Although Garza says he prefers the label “hardcore” for Through N Through’s music, the thick guitar tones, crushing palm-muted riffs, and cutting kick drum all show the band’s heavy metal roots bursting through to the surface, with Garza’s hardcore punk vocals adding a defiant and satisfying finish.
If it wasn’t footwork crew The Era’s In The Wurkz stage show, which brought the “life of a footworker” to Englewood’s Hamilton Park, something else in their jam-packed 2016 would floor you: their multimedia gallery on the genre’s history at Columbia College Chicago; or their In The Wurkz FM EP, where they sucked hip-hop and footwork into a vortex as unprecedented as it was trunk-rattling; or the time they taught footwork in Kuwait. This much is clear: no longer rising stars, The Era are true innovators and masters of the form. Why don’t we let them speak (and wurk) for themselves. (Austin Brown)
Two nights before the end of a wild, rocky year, I watched Patti Smith, Godmother of Punk, tear through her seminal debut album Horses. It was her seventieth birthday. She started out by calmly moving through the album, until about halfway through, when she started to talk about the thing she couldn’t not talk about. “Not my fucking president!” she howled, and bang: for the next hour or so the agenda was rock ’n’ roll, love, and freedom: songs written in 1975 twisted for the present age. “Land: Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/La Mer (De)” was reformulated as prophecy for the new generation: “They will rise up with a new optimism never seen before!”
Beyond Chief and Chance
“Forever’s Gone,” DRAMA
It’s no longer an exaggeration, or an overstatement: Chicago’s South Side is experiencing an artistic boom on par with the Harlem Renaissance, and its biggest and smallest artists all plowed forward this past year with an energy that was impossible to ignore no matter where you turned. You could easily feel it as the city watched Chance the Rapper continue his ascent to fame, acclaim, and a cool seven Grammy nominations, and indeed that’s the narrative that’s probably the easiest to find. That’s why you’ll see it covered the least here—because the truth was, you could feel it everywhere.
The creators of Midway Documentary, Ryan Brockmeier and Chad Sorenson, believe that behind the success of big names in Chicago hip-hop are many unheard stories of artists who built the genre.
Over the summer, The Remedy, an a capella R&B group of four self-taught singers from the South Side, received some unexpected appreciation when a video of their performance at the Jackson Blue Line station went viral. The group’s members, Jeremy, Karon, Fresh, and Cody, have been performing together for over ten years now and show no signs of slowing down. I had the pleasure of meeting with the group to talk about where they’re going, and how that’s impacted by where—and who—they’ve been.