It’s taken me the better part of a week to try to figure out how to start this: last week, He Is Legend invaded The Subterranean, a club in Chicago. The band, mainstays for a decade with a significant following, played an extremely intimate show. For fans of the band, a hardcore style of ‘Southern rock,’ this was a dream – they could actually touch the stage as the music raged. Technically though, the club was basically empty.
It seems like everyone I know listens to He Is Legend (more of my friends listen to them than they do New Found Glory). As an outsider to the band, I attended the show on a whim with a friend, curious to see the group I’ve heard so much about. Though we arrived late, there were only 40 to 50 people in a room built for at least a couple hundred.
This was not an issue. The fans in attendance were ablaze. The bands gave the crowd an amazing time, essentially playing right on top of them.
Technically the second band on the roster, relative newcomers Don’t Feed the Birds, made a lot of noise for such a small group. What was impressive about them was that, although they’re still fairly green, they wore a stage presence of veterans. Not only were they bouncing as they played, but they grabbed my attention with a lack of bass guitar. The three piece band consisted of a drummer and two guitarists, making up for the lack of bass with distinct higher and lower notes that sounded enough like a full band to make me second guess that there wasn’t a bassist. This is a band that I sincerely hope to see an a year or two drop an astounding album that lands them on the map.
In what may be the most impressive showcase of musicianship I’ve ever seen, Must Be the Holy Ghost took the one man act to a whole new level. Recording and looping vocal and guitar parts mid-song, MBtHG had a full, rich and clean sound that lent itself well to a style that took a step back from the hardcore influences of the other bands for a more somber tone.
Behind (and on top of) him, a projector displayed a large image of brightly colored oils, spinning and mixing to the beat of the music. It was trippy for someone who hadn’t expected to see it, and captivating in a way to give the music more impact that you would otherwise find on an album alone.
He Is Legend though, are a formidable force. They’re loud, and comfortable enough with their sound to dance between sincere vocals and crisp screams. There was a fine, delicious line that swayed between hardcore, pop punk and Southern rock that gave the set a full atmosphere. Opening with “Seduction”, the band blasted through some favorites including “I Am Hollywood”, and a version of “Attack of the Dungeon Witch” that melded into “Magnolia”.
While they seemed comfortable in their respective places on stage, their wall of sound dominated the room, made louder and defiant to the small crowd. In the end, the show was a success, but it absolutely baffled me that a band with this much talent faced an issue that I would have never dreamed of. Especially at a club in the hipster part of Chicago.
Bands face a continuous problem of selling records and touring to support themselves, and it’s easy to forget that even bands with a large following can still face that pressure from time to time. Why Chicago didn’t bite as much as I would have expected, I don’t know. I’ve been wondering why so badly the last few days, and I just don’t have an answer. It happens.
For the fans there, this show was a dream come true. It was up close and unrealistically intimate. You could feel the heat coming from the bands’ bodies as they furiously played and jumped. It was the type of show that showed the resilience of a band and a genre that thrives off of a hardcore fanbase, which is what music is all about.
by Kyle Schultz
Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and was told he would get a “foot up my ass” from two different people for not telling them about He Is Legend being in town. TWO PEOPLE. How often does that happen?
Too bad Don’t Feed The Birds will NEVER make it because the lead singer changed everything to fit his own selfish needs. All of the original members are now gone, and now they’re putting out mediocre music under the same name. Sad, sad.