Just under a decade ago, Trouble In Mind Records hit the ground running in Chicago, IL and haven’t let up since. Quickly amassing a catalog of impressive indie rock acts from around the world from New York based Sunwatchers and Olden Yolk to New Zealand’s Salad Boys and Swiss synth-groove duo Klaus Johann Grobe. Case in point, Saturday night showcased headliners and hometown Chicagoans, Ethers, alongside relative newcomers from Paris, France, En Attendant Ana. The show also found fellow labelmates and members of New Haven’s own Mountain Movers and Headroom, in the audience. Needless to say, the Trouble in Mind family was well represented.
The State House officially opened its doors on August 16th, 2018 and as such tonight’s show is among only a handful that have taken place to date. I will tell you that not only is the space beautifully renovated but the sound and acoustics may very well be the best I’ve heard in the state. It’s down to earth atmosphere and friendly staff are sure to garner attention as much as the space itself, not to mention the impressive calendar of events lined up, including The Van Pelt, Thurston Moore, David Nance, and a ton of excellent world music from Ethiopia to Puerto Rico. On this evening, local band Zero Years kicked things off with their brand of 90’s indie rock ala Pavement meets The Fall. Their songs were well orchestrated and catchy and had a lot of heads bobbing and feet tapping.
Next up were the Parisian garage pop quintet En Attendant Ana, which if my high school level french has held up translates loosely to “Waiting for Ana.” Wait and wait I would to hear these youngster play live again as they impressed me with their polish, energy, enthusiasm, and modesty. Despite having a limited English vocabulary, both lead vocalist Margaux and Romain charmed the crowd with their deference and gratitude. Margaux stood behind a beautiful vintage Farfisa organ often with her ivory Stratocaster slung over her shoulder as she strummed and sung lilting lyrics occasionally pressing the keys into service with their signature sound. Romain bounced about the stage with vim and vigor, wearing his Telecaster high upon his chest tucked neatly under his armpit strumming madly and shouting raspy vocals in stark contrast to Margaux’s.
This yin and yang interplay of the two was perfect, even magical at times when a song reached fever pitch and the beautiful noise reached a crescendo only to end abruptly with nothing but the reverb left to tease our ears. Backing vocalist and guitarist, as well as trumpeter, Camille was instrumental to their signature sound. Her trumpet blasts were seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of their sound and never felt forced or out of place. Bassist and drummer, Antoine and Adrien respectively, worked in unison carrying the cadence of the five from France.
En Attendant Ana played a majority of songs from their 2018 debut album Lost and Found. For the uninitiated, their sound reflects elements of Death Valley ‘69 and ‘Cross the Breeze era Sonic Youth mixed with Velocity Girl pop and charm and a sprinkle of early Blonde Redhead, all the while maintaining their chanson ye-ye inspired pop sentiment. If and when they play a city near you don’t miss them but in the meantime go grab their debut record from Trouble In Mind.
Up next, the best new band of 2018 you don’t know you love yet, Ethers. Mutual friends in various Chicago based bands such as Heavy Times, Outer Minds, Radar Eyes and The Runnies, the foursome joined forces to form Ethers. Guitarist and vocalist Bo Hansen came out slugging with Mark McKane heavy on the Farfisa. Russ Calderwood swayed from side to side behind his long curly locks with his bass slung low moving in and out of illumination on the dimly lit stage. Matthew Rolin kept a cool beat with his effortless chops and poised playing. Their setlist drew primarily from their self-titled debut album released this summer. Songs included killer cuts like the apocalyptic anthem “Nature’s Revenge”, the somber synth driven “Something” and fuzzed out dance number “Past My Prime”. The hits kept on coming with pseudo ballad “Carry What You Kill”, classic garage/psych teeth rattling “Empty Hours”, and my favorite of the night CBD, which felt like riding a motorcycle at top speed, helmetless on train tracks through an unlit tunnel racing into the blackness in the wrong direction.
This is as much a review of Ethers live as it is of their album so run out and see these gnarly Chicagoans slay live and then buy their album at the merch table. If neither are a possibility then head on over to Trouble In Mind because this one is sure to stay in heavy rotation for weeks if not months.