Initially conceived in a bowling alley in Japan, CIVIC is a proto-punk inspired band hailing from Melbourne, Australia. The band is comprised of vocalist Jim McCullough, bassist Roland Hvlaka, guitarists Lewis Hodgson and Jackson Harry, and drummer Matt Blach. The band released their latest record, Taken By Force early this year, which was featured on rotation here at WLUW. The band is currently embarking upon their first U.S. tour, and during their stop in Chicago last week, they took the time to sit down with me for an interview.
After the interview I stuck around to watch the band’s first show in Chicago. Empty Bottle was a perfect place to house this kind of show. With low ceilings, brick walls, and a venue cat, the scene was set for a night of excellent music. There’s even a pizza restaurant right next to the merch stand, so in case you get hungry you can take a break and grab a slice.
First to take the stage was local punk band Ganser, featuring Sophie Sputnik on lead vocals and synth, Charlie Landsman on guitar, Alicia Gaines on bass and backing vocals, and Brian Cundiff on drums. The highlight of their set was the song People Watching. Sputnik moved across the stage, and even into the crowd, repeatedly asking, “Where you gonna go?”
When CIVIC took the stage, and Lewis donned the iconic red and white guitar featured on their debut EP New Vietnam, the crowd erupted with excitement. The band quickly got into their set, starting with the electric End of The Line from their most recent record. McCullough’s energy was infectious, as the whole crowd began to move and mosh. They moved through some other new songs, like Taken by Force and Fly Song. The set also featured some old favorites, like New Vietnam and Call The Doctor which rocked the house.
The band also played my favorite song of theirs, Trick of The Light. The song takes a much different turn than the rest of their music, taking a more downtempo approach, with the verses being more understated, and the chorus exploding in electric guitar and drums. The song was a major hit at Empty Bottle, as the audience began to sing along with McCullough.
If you have the chance, CIVIC is a band you won’t want to miss live. They’re continuing their first US tour on the west coast this month, and will be heading to Europe in late November.