Empires, still the scrappy little band of my heart, won’t be on the cover of Rolling Stone this year. They are, however, on tour right now and may very well be coming to a tiny club near you sometime soon. And if you can make it out to see them, you should. I had the pleasure of catching up with them and also some promising local bands last Friday night.
The first opener was Follower, who are so new that this show was actually their second show ever. If the two songs I was able to hear were a reasonable representative sample, they play like a much more experienced band – tight, focused and powerful. Here is one of the three decent pictures I managed to take of them:
Next was The Constant, who are poppier than Follower and Empires, but yet are still definitely rock and roll, and also significantly grittier live than they are online:
And then it was time for Empires. They started with The Night is Young, a song created during the whole Rolling Stone contest, and then powered through a set that included another song written for the RS contest (Hell’s Heroes) but was mostly a solid mix of Bang and Howl and included I Want Blood, Damn Things Over, Hello Lover, Spit the Dark, I Know You Know, Voodooized and Bang.
It’s been a year or so since I saw Empires last, and I was once again entranced by the depth and richness of their sound, especially the blues at the core. To me they sound like the essence of certain aspects of Chicago: the stockyards, the sexy menace of mobsters in heavy coats and molls in sleek furs, speakeasies, the rumble of the El, and the snap in the air as snow falls on the mighty river.
These are the two best pictures from the evening: