Smile Politely

Punk, pop, and ska sounds filled the Rose Bowl Thursday night

Musician Emily How photographed straight on. She is a tall, thin white woman with reddish hair. She is wearing a black, full body leotard and standing in a very narrow industrial hallway. She is touching her hands to each of the concrete walls.
Emily How on Facebook

On the night of Thursday, March 9th, The Rose Bowl showcased three distinct Chicago-based bands, each with their unique sound and style. It was a part of a showcase from “Rios Mios Presents” featuring young bands, each with music worthy of attention and that could probably use some extra stage time to hone their acts. 

The first band of the night was Pure Intention, a three-piece punk band that immediately seized the attention of the young and energetic crowd. When being introduced, the promoter urged “Give it up for these guys; they all have work or school in the morning,” as if he was worried that these boys may need to garner a little sympathy to win the crowd over. This proved unnecessary because they won the young, energetic crowd over easily.

A black and white photo of the band Pure Intention. Thee young men are pictured in a line with their heads titled so their faces are visible. They all appear to be white or white passing. The three of them have shaggy hair and mostly neutral or slightly smirking expressions. They are standing in what appears to be a bar or basement space.
Pure Intention on Spotify

The crowd filled in front of the stage, bouncing along to the band’s Nirvana-sounding guitars and vocals. The intentionally out-of-tune solo added to the raw punk sound, some of which is showcased on the band’s EP called “No Shit.” Songs like “Sour Days” and “Punk Rock Warlord,” were angry but eaten up by the angst-ridden audience. The singer asked “Do you want to hear a happy song?” but before the crowd could answer he belted “well too fucking bad, because we don’t have any.” The absence of a happy song did not seem to bother the crowd, who was thoroughly enjoying the 90s punk-inspired sound of “All My Fault” and “Ain’t No Room.”

Next up were Emily How and the Whys, also from the Chicago area. The mellowness of their pop-sounding music was a stark contrast to the previous band, but it didn’t stop the crowd from heading up front by the stage for the second song. How’s voice tried to shine through the flat guitar tuning in the beginning, but it wasn’t until the band’s third song, “Make Your Heart,” that the guitars were finally in tune. At one point, she remarked “I love the vibe here at The Rose Bowl. It feels like we’re in a movie,” which is a remark I couldn’t disagree with.

In between songs, How stated “I’m an Aries, does that make sense?”, and apparently the astrology-loving crowd empathized, based on their reaction. “I dropped out of college [bigger cheer], but it’s paid off so far. I get to play more music than ever,” How declared.  

The crowd was treated to some psychedelic guitars and vocals in “Folding, Caving” and a ballad called “Ladybug,” which had a slow start and started rocking halfway through. The band’s newest song, “Cross Your Mind,” channeled her inner anger and ended the set with the same energy the first band ended with. Before the song she asked the young crowd to scream with her.

Black and white photo of the band Scarlet Demore. There are five people, all dressed in black tshirts and jeans. They are posing for a photo, some of them making funny faces.
Scarlet Demore on Facebook

The final band of the night was Scarlet Demore, who were on tour and kicked their set off with a song that sounded like the Smashing Pumpkins. The drummer, Angelo Santoyo, laid down some classic rock beats on some songs, reminiscent of Joey Kramer from Aersosmith. The second song was reminiscent of Gwen Stefani and No Doubt with its ska beat and emotional wailing from the singer, Cat Ayala. Scarlet Demore’s December EP included “Please Stop Loving Me” (Go Go’s meets No Doubt) and “Dead Man,” the latter being about really bad men who deserve the worst. The full-on punk beginning of the lead singer’s favorite song got the young crowd bouncing up and down again, recapturing the energy from the first band. The band’s old-school Gwen Stefani sound-alike wailing in the ska-infused songs like their popular “Spiked Seltzer” and “Funky Kid” got the crowd dancing even harder. They ended with a cover song, which ended their set, and this showcase, on a very high note.

Overall, the showcase was a cross-section of the young bands of Chicago’s music scene. Pure Intention, Emily How and the Whys, and Scarlet Demore each brought their unique sound and style, keeping the young and energetic crowd engaged throughout the night. While each band had its standout moments, the energy of the first and last bands was hard to ignore, with both bands ending the night on a high note. It was refreshing to see a crowd this young and enthusiastic, proving that punk, rock, and ska in this music scene is still alive and well, even on a Thursday night at The Rose Bowl.

Music Editor

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