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NEWS - Fireside Bowl


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(L to R: Brian Case, Alianna Kalaba, Noah Leger. Photo by Zoran Orlic)

I've known Brian & Noah from FACS for a while ~ I've lived in Chicago since 1992 & there are just some people you run into over & over again. I used to frequent The Empty Bottle (OK I still do, just less than I did in my roaring Twenties) & Noah was a constant figure there; literally the sweetest guy you'll meet, especially surprising given what a MONSTER he is on the drums (SERIOUSLY - have you seen this guy play? It's scary how great he is!). Brian I've seen around since his 90-Day Men days, but really only got to know him after he joined The Ponys (RIP Ponys).

It's crazy to think about how long I've actually lived in this town - I moved here the fall after graduating high school in Weatherford, Texas & after living in The Loop in SAIC dorms for a year I moved to Wicker Park in 1993. This is pre-hypergentrification, when it was affordable to live there. Now, the neighborhood is unrecognizeable - too many condos & weird fly-by-night boutiques catering to the neuvo-riche that currently reside there, but back then it was dirty & cheap and lots of students lived there because we were all broke. A great little scene of like-minded weirdos sprung up & tons of DIY spots like Milk of Burgundy (run by then-Chicago resident Robert "Quintron" Rolston) and other spots like No-Palace & Czar Bar that had shows by punk & indie bands as well as the burgeoning Chicago No-Wave scene. Fireside Bowl was a touch further North & West, but it was absolutely a fixture of the scene too. There was a gaping hole left when it stopped having shows & closed down the first time, & Chicago lacks a decent all-ages venue TO THIS DAY. Anyhoo, so Brian & I essentially came up in this miasma of Chicago music-times; I was busy in school for a while, then bummed around after I had to quit & he was busy touring the world in bands (I'm sure he'd contend it was less glamorous than I'm implying it was) & as I'd mentioned, our paths wouldn't cross again until he joined The Ponys around '05 or so. He & I share a similar musical language & like a lot of the same bands, which I guess really isn't THAT unusual, but its interesting to think about how the gestation of our musical DNA started in Chicago around the same time & we sorta ended up at the same place, despite having different life experiences & not really interacting for 10-12 years after those seeds were planted. Again, we run in the basically same scene, so I'm not claiming it's some sorta miracle - just... interesting.

(Photo of the crowd at Fireside Bowl in the mid-Nineties by Azita Youssefi - your author just to the right of plaid shirt guy in the middle)

I'd been a fan of Disappears for a while & really admired their trajectory from the first two albums to the last one ("Irreal" on Kranky) & when he emailed us about potentially releasing the first album by his new project FACS with Noah & Jonathan (all three of recently disbanded/rebranded Disappears), I was pumped. It's always nice to work with people you already know - it alleviates some of the pressure & second guessing that can sometimes accompany working with new faces or strangers. Anyway, I knew the FACS album would be good, but definitely not prepared for the right turn they made on "Negative Houses". They'd managed to make an album that was MORE claustrophobic & minimal than "Irreal", but completely sounding like a natural progression from Disappears. It was a nervous bummer when Jonathan announced he was leaving the group (like a month before the first record was released!) but Brian & Noah completely recovered; Brian went back to guitar & they added Alianna on bass. I think she really adds a new dynamic to the band both musically (her contributions to "Lifelike" are essential) & via her presence on stage (mesmerizing!) She used to play in a couple of Chicago bands that I used to catch at Fireside & beyond back in the day; The Dishes & We Ragazzi. Again, a funny & weird social carousel that rotates people back into your lives. Can't wait to see who turns up next.

FACS' next album is in the can & at "the plant" as I type this, and it's their best yet. Just you wait...

BUY copies of the first two FACS albums "Negative Houses" & "Lifelike" HERE

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