How can a band be so young and so good? For Modern Vices, a group created in 2013 and consisting of 19- and 20-year-old Elmhurst natives, the quality is not a fluke.
The band's rise from Chicago-area house shows to appearances at music showcase CMJ in New York, and sets at Metro and Beat Kitchen came after only a few short years of dedication, experimentation and hard work.
Composed of Alex Rebek on vocals, Patrick Hennessey on drums, Peter Scoville and Thomas Peters on guitar and Miles Kalchik on bass, Modern Vices makes music that's easy to fall in love with and very difficult to ignore.
And after a quick spin of the group's self-titled debut from October 2014, it'll be difficult to believe the quintet hasn't broken through in an even bigger way than it already has (It's not every day that an underage group gets to headline venues it normally couldn't visit.)
Modern Vices is not a band that found success by accident, and its members refuse to see the music they've created and want to create in such a limited capacity.
"You can always do better," Scoville said.
And it's true. The members take their music as something of a full-time commitment, even as most of them maintain part-time or full-time jobs to pay their bills.
But going all in is usually the sort of choice young men like the Modern Vices crew make later in life, after getting a taste of the 9-to-5 routine.
Luckily for Modern Vices, it didn't have to grapple with the creative limits of the real world before diving right into the music career. The members dropped out of college (DePaul University, Columbia College and Skidmore, in upstate New York) to pursue music on their own terms. They now all live together in Lakeview.
The decision wasn't the easiest one, but they also didn't mull over it. The most difficult part was finding a good band name. After originally settling on Baby Baby, they learned another group had the same name. In the end, Modern Vices is a sturdier moniker, one built to last the ups and downs of burgeoning music stardom.
It also didn't hurt that the band had a strong background of musicianship and a smart, infectious album of material to support their dreams. Group members built their chops in the surprisingly strong underground rock scene in Elmhurst, typically playing house shows in their fellow classmates' homes.
Later, when most of the members moved to Chicago for college, they quickly soaked up the opportunities of the city's live-music scene.
When they finally came together as Modern Vices, building work was simple. Members used previously created songs that were then altered and shaped in the group setting. Rather than trickle into the music world, they decided to dive headfirst into a full-length work.
"We just wanted to release a whole album out of nowhere, really," Peters said.
Though the members describe themselves as a dirty doo-wop band, their album is a brilliant collection of throwback rock, garage and new wave.
And though the band's list of influences includes Radiohead, the Beatles and Twin Peaks (a Chicago band that Modern Vices both admires and is friends with), the sound most closely resembles a perfect mix of the heavy, energetic guitar riffs of the Strokes coupled with the yearning of British new wave/post-punk act Orange Juice. Songs like "Cheap Style" or "Taller in the Sunshine" are super-short, yet charismatic and catchy.
Modern Vices sounds immediately familiar, a quality found often in music that speaks to our most trusted and desirable sonic aesthetics.
The group's small body of work is melodic, the sort of music that should have no problem finding an audience.
And speaking of the future, the band's looks especially bright: 2015 should bring more sets (including more house shows, the group's favorite performance venue) and a new album.
For the ensemble's members, success is "making music, meeting people, traveling and making it a career," Rebek said.
But more than anything, as Peters added, "We just want to be free to do what we want to do."
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Beat Kitchen,
2100 W. Belmont Ave.
Tickets: $8-$10 (17+): 773-281-4444 or