Sofar Sounds Chicago

Hey everyone! So its be a while *cough* 3 months *cough* but I’m back! Now that I’m done with school, it’s time to jump back on the blog writing horse and get down to business. As a “Welcome Back Please Forgive Me For Not Posting” treat, I bring you some fantastic music from the far off land of Chicago, IL. Last month I was able to attend another amazing Sofar Sounds show thanks to Mr. Eric Muhlberger and the rest of the SofarChicago team. If you’re not familiar with Sofar Sounds, please see my previous post where I explain all about it.

For those of you who do know what it is, let’s jump right in!


There are a few things in life that get me over the hills, reaching for the stars excited: the first snow of winter, frozen hot chocolate in the summer, new episodes of Doctor Who, and the Sofar Sounds Newsletter. So imagine my delight when I opened my email one day and saw there would be a Sofar show in Chicago on May 18th. It was already going to be a very busy weekend for me, but there was no way I was going to miss this show. After shuffling some events on my calendar, a friend and I were off for a wonderful night of music.

sign 2


The night began with Marcus Christopher Maloney, lead singer of The Oarsman, performing a few solo tracks. Before I go any further, I’ll have to ask you to excuse the “fangirliness” of the next couple paragraphs, because once he opened his mouth, I was in love. The songs her sung were heartfelt and meaningful, each telling their own story about life and relationships. Maloney has the type of voice that lulls one into a trance; I couldn’t help but close my eyes and sway as soft notes echoed around the apartment.

oarsman full oarsmansolo with light

He was soon joined by the rest of his band and they began to play beautiful music together. As they performed, I knew I had found a new band to add to my list of people to watch out for. Every lyric sung and note played showed a deep understanding of sounds, music, and love. It’s hard to describe just how spell bounded I was during their set; it was a big blur of one breathtaking song after another.

Having just had my heart stolen by The Oarsman, I wasn’t sure anyone could effectively follow them up. The Eleven Dollar Bills were put to the task, and let me tell you, they were more than able to deliver  The Eleven Dollar Bills is a three-piece blues rock band based in Chicago. It has been said that they have the “poetry of Dylan with the passion of Hendrix.” I literally could not think of a better description for them.

EDB smiles

Guitarist and lead vocalist Jordan Casty and bass player Garrett Eaton especially caught my interest; the way they play together is absolutely phenomenal. The two feed off each other’s energy and serve it to the crowd on a silver platter. The entire band performed with intensity and vigor, providing yet another mind-blowing experience. All I can say is that I had their song “Mercedes Benz” ringing in my head for the next week.

After a short break, our host, Xoe Wise, treated us all to a special surprise performance. The ever-talented Wise has somehow been involved with every Chicago Sofar since they began in January. I love listening to Wise play as she has a very pure voice and an amusing way of approaching lyric writing. The song she played entitled, “Chores” was entertaining and fun-hearted just like her.

Next up was Parallels and Lies, an alternative EDM band made up of Jillian Gray and Chris Johnson. The duo changed up the pace of the night, throwing in all kinds of fun “toys” and synthesizers. Gray provided unique vocals while Johnson pumped out dominating rhythms through his keyboard and MacBook.

P and Lpiano fingers

The last act of the night was Kellen And Me, a single man band run by Kellen Kerwin. Kerwin’s music was like a culmination of all the sounds played previously that night. His style, a mix of electro-indie-folk-rock is hard to come by. If one had never seen Kerwin perform and only heard a track, they would assume there was a full band of people playing along. In fact, Kerwin is able to produce a multitude of harmonious sounds all by himself.

Kellen kellen's guitar

On his album he is marked under the genre of “introspectrum rock’n glow.” Now if you’re like me, you have no clue what that actually means, but I can tell you one thing: it’s good. Kerwin’s soft, but impactful sounds paired wonderfully with his distinct soothing vocals. With every note he produced, his passion came forth and stole the crowd. By the end we were begging for just one more song and he delivered.

Photo by Lindsay Stayton –


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