Photo by Miles Kalchik
By Aly Westrin
The Brooklyn band, Gustaf, treated Chicago to a night of fun, punk, and danceable music at the Empty Bottle in West Town on Saturday, April 2nd. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I arrived at the Empty Bottle, I knew this would be a home to good music. The walls peppered with stickers, bathrooms covered in murals and graffiti, and a pet cat, this place is a staple for the indie and punk music scene.
The show started at 9pm with opener, Ethers, a Chicago band with four members. Ethers is an interesting group with an extensive resume, as the band members were all in their own separate bands, including bands like Heavy Times, Outer Minds, and Radar Eyes. Once their previous bands came to an end they formed Ethers and can confidently say they are proud of the music they’ve made together. A really unique aspect of Ethers is their use of the organ in their music. An unusual instrument in the punk scene, but created a melodic atmosphere that showcased the depth of the artist’s talent and brought a new twist to the punk genre.
During the Ethers performance, The Empty Bottle became a full house, filled with anticipation and excitement. I had listened to Gustaf a few times before seeing them live, and I can confidently say they did not disappoint in the slightest. Think Courtney Barnett meets Wet Leg. They have the plain spoken and delivered lyrics of Courtney Barnett and the fun, edgy tunes of Wet Leg. The band is having fun with the music they make, and that translates into a really great album and a really great concert.
Lydia Gammill, on vocals and flute, delivered lyrics with raw emotion and sang directly to the audience. Gammill was an amazing performer and I could feel the emotion tied to all her lyrics. She puts her whole body and heart into her performance and it was really amazing to watch. The song “Happy” was a powerful performance by Gammill that showcased the artist’s attachment to her lyrics and the sentiment behind her experiences.
Tarra Thiessen, on vocals and percussion, added to the fun and edgy aspect of the concert with a constant deep vocal effect on her mic, a Cafe Bustelo coffee can with drumsticks to showcase her percussion skills, screaming chicken toys, and hand bells. These additions to their performance were something that I hadn’t seen before, but created an electric atmosphere despite the heavy emotion-ridden lyrics.
Gammill and Thiessen weren’t the only ones who gave a memorable performance. The sound was bouncing from the walls thanks to Tine Hill on bass, Melissa Lucciola on drums, and Vram Kherlopian on Guitar and vocals. The entire band was energetic and interactive with the audience, resulting in an exceptional performance.