PLAYING BLOOMINGTON: Live Music Highlights from June
(June 24) Jacky Boy @ the Void
Bloomington locals Mark, Stone, and Steve constitute the trio of secular rockers known as Jacky Boy that opened up the night at Punks Give Back #4. Punks Give Back! Bloomington is a local branch of Punks Give Back!, a national, not-for-profit organization that supports local artists and organizers to raise money for local nonprofit organizations. Punks Give Back! Bloomington organizes a monthly event with music and poetry in order to channel funds into various organizations that support local underserved and underprivileged populations.
Punks Give Back #4 raised funds for Exodus Refugee Immigration, an organization based out of Indianapolis that makes it its mission to “serve the resettlement needs of refugees and other displaced people fleeing persecution, injustice, and war by welcoming them to Indiana.” Although they admitted that this was their first show in over three months (which I guess is a while for the band), Jacky Boy delivered their trademark grungy dream pop sound: jangly and distorted guitar effects, infectious hooks, and saccharine vocals.
Jessie, and Ian, and Nia of Clue
(June 22) The Bishop Presents: Fresh Kill: with Clue, Oscilla, Jennie Williams, Poems of T.K. Williams, Jasper Wirtshafter, and Alexandria Hollett.
This show, which featured the debut of new local group Fresh Kill, had an especially stacked supporting lineup of music (Jennie Williams, Clue, Oscilla) and poetry (T. K. Williams, Jasper Wirtshafter, and Alexandria Hollett). After three poetry sets opened the night, local singer-songwriter Jennie Williams grabbed the audience with raw and personal tunes sung in a rich tone that seamlessly shifted from one octave to the next. Following Williams was Clue, a three piece synth punk group comprised of Bloomington locals Jessie (synth and vocals), Nia (bass), and Ian (percussion). With a cool and deliberate energy, the bouncy, syncopated rhythms and Jessie’s half-sung vocal performance provided a lively counter to the other acts of the night.
Headlining group Fresh Kill was the second-to-last band to perform. Fresh Kill is Emma, who sings and plays the drums, and Jess, who sings and plays guitar. Aside from occasional bursts of energetic instrumentals, their performance was minimal, which showcased the hauntingly personal nature of their lyrics. The audience was especially supportive for the debut of this band, who had family and friends in the audience for the special night. Lastly, Oscilla wrapped up the evening with ambient dance tunes that were as emotive as they were hypnotic.
When I descended the stairs to the basement of the house venue Kroger Castle, Dream Probe had already started playing their set. Dream Probe is a Champaign-based hardcore punk band featuring Vince (guitar), Olguie (vocals, bass), and Tyler (Drums). Dream Probe performed the songs off of their spring demo, bringing even more intensity and energy to their politically charged, anti-colonial, Spanish language punk. Although all of the instruments were turned up to max volume, Olguie’s powerful vocals managed to cut through the chaotic wall of noise.
Local punk group Skull Cult closed the night with another energetic punk set. Their sound contains elements of new wave, synth punk and hardcore but is difficult to define and characterize. Luckily, it seems like Skull Cult is more interested in creating an environment that is both boisterous and merry than in defining their sound. While their performance was abrupt, it was packed with turbulent music and uninhibited dancing.
(6/21) Jordan Victoria @ the Blockhouse
“This is my first time playing the guitar in public,” admitted Jordan Victoria, the drummer of Her Again, about halfway through her opening set at the Blockhouse. While her nerves may have been apparent when it was time to address the audience between songs, her vulnerability paired well with the intimate and autobiographical nature of her music. As Victoria’s subtle vibrato coaxed the lone meandering electric guitar through rises and falls in intensity, it felt less like a performance than a gathering among friends.
Rebecca Kunin is a scholar, zine maker, drummer, and dog mom who currently resides in Bloomington, Indiana. Working on a PhD in Ethnomusicology, she does research on punk music and zine culture as they intersect with notions of identity, health, and education