Elephant Gun (Photo by Kelly Walter)
Tucked away in Rogers Park, the Morseland has a mid-size pub/restaurant atmosphere with a decent number of live music offerings throughout the week, and there was a particularly choice show featuring three local and independent Americana/rock bands on the evening of September 4th.
The evening opened with Chicago-based quartet Brother George's set of old-timey vocal harmonies, folk/Americana influences, and plenty of instrument-swapping as various band members traded guitars, drums, and bass while taking lead vocals. One of the stand-out sounds from the songs in the set was often-doubled lead guitar and bass riffs. The hummable melodies and choir atmosphere gave the band's electric live sound (the band's studio recordings are acoustic) a friendly, collaborative feel.
Embarking that evening on a seven-city tour with Brother George, New York's The Teenage Prayers had a classic rock/Americana feel (at times during the set, one could compare their sound to The Band). Again, collaboration seemed to be the overriding vibe from the set; everybody onstage seemed to join in on the choruses of songs, and the band's welcoming sound drew you in to the fold.
The evening's headliners were Elephant Gun, a rather large rock/Americana outfit from Chicago, and honestly, with seven people on the stage and a big, lush live sound to match, there are very few contemporary acts in (or out of) the area that could have followed their performance Friday night. The songwriting is solid, the melodies are memorable, but a big part of the appeal of seeing this band perform live comes from the energetic and visually entertaining stage show; the way the members of this band play their instruments is entertaining on its own. It is obvious watching Elephant Gun that the musicians love what they are doing, and that there isn't any place they'd rather be, which infects the audience with the same energy. By the end of the night, they had gotten a lot of people up on their feet and dancing to their frenetic countrified rock. Elephant Gun's new album, Beartime Stories, is due out in October.
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This article also appears on Chicago Indie Rock Examiner.