After nearly 24,000 votes, you narrowed down our RedEye Rock ‘n’ Vote Top 10 to the 92s, Hospital Garden, the Retar Crew and Santiago x the Natural. The final four will appear at our free show May 16 at Hard Rock Café (headlined by former Rock ‘n’ Vote finalist Rockie Fresh), where they’ll compete for your votes on site. Why? Because the ultimate RedEye Rock ‘n’ Vote 2012 winner scores a July 15 slot performing at Taste of Chicago.
For the Rock ‘n’ Vote show these suburban-based, folk-influenced indie rockers will be back from school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. “Honestly, the majority of Champaign is from the south side of Chicago,” says singer-guitarist Dan Durley, 19. “Absolutely we’ll be able to bring people.” Anyone who comes to the show will appreciate the quartet’s knack for delivering tightly constructed, infectious tales of alienated youth on the EP “Don’t Bury Me.” “We’re tastefully loud,” says Durley of the 92s’ live show. Come see why that’s not an oxymoron.
Indie rockers Hospital Garden don’t have a name that gives away its sound—“I don’t think it evokes any sort of style,” says singer-guitarist Lucas Hollow, 29, of Pilsen. “Like a band name like Slayer or Megadeth, something like that makes people know automatically what kind of band it is.” One listen to “Ties,” the opening track from the Hospital Garden’s latest album “Haunter,” however, and people will know immediately they’ve encountered a band (whose name comes from a William Carlos Williams poem) that taps directly into the core of a good rock song. Says Hollow, “I think that we offer good songwriting, and perform it with a lot of energy and volume.” Sold.
The Retar Crew
It’s not difficult to get out the vote when your online following has generated more than 1.6 million hits on YouTube. Yet Lincoln Square-based hip-hop group the Retar Crew (featuring one MC based in New York and named for the members’ experience re-tarring roofs) also had celeb support for Rock ‘n’ Vote. The quartet, who performs with a DJ and horn section, received Twitter love from Def Jam rapper Wax, former “American Idol” finalist (and Bravo’s “Platinum Hit” cast member) Jackie Tohn and White Sox legend Frank Thomas, for whom the Retar Crew recently wrote a song. “He’s a fan now; we might be able to get him out to the show,” says Jax, 30. Here’s hoping.
Santiago x The Natural
“You won’t know that we’re unsigned indie artists,” promises rapper the Natural (real name: Jeffery Z. Stephens, 27) of the island-flavored hip-hop/rock outfit’s live performances. There’s reason to believe him: The South Side-native Streeterville resident and producer/vocalist Lawrence Santiago (who lives in L.A. but will move to Chicago in August) recently performed for more than 11,000 people before a game of the Minnesota Swarm, the professional lacrosse team that chose the group’s “Warriors” as its official theme song. At the event, Santiago x The Natural posted a sign telling fans to vote while the duo signed autographs and took pictures--and in the owner’s suite told Senator Al Franken to vote for them. “I think it went in one ear and out the other,” says Stephens with a laugh. Franken’s loss!