Despite the cold weather, indie punk band Lettering packed the downstairs room of Subterranean (2011 W. North Ave.) Nov. 15, keeping everyone warm with a speedrun of their discography.
The venue was packed to the back of the room, mimicking the vibe of a house show, a feeling many patrons may have experienced before. These bands, Lettering included, have grown in the local DIY scenes and have often played in basements, living rooms and garages.
Three other Chicago area-based bands opened up the night, keeping the show fresh as they skipped through genres. Close Kept can best be described as the lovechild of Hinder and Staind, solidifying alternative rock’s place in the evening.
Dead Sun — a band far outside any single genre’s definitions — followed, playing two songs with echoing vocals and sludge-filled instrumentals. Elgin’s defining DIY band Mt. Pocono stormed the stage as the only four-piece of the night, playing a mix of new and old material from their selection of math rock-influenced punk to hype up the crowd.
Lettering took the stage, with guitarist and vocalist Jinno Redovan moving up to the mic wearing his signature temple tip glasses. The trio kicked off its set with “I Was Cruel,” the second track off its self-titled album.
The bass and drum introduction was all the crowd needed to warm up before going into a frenzy when the frantic opening guitar riff entered the mix. Even this energy was dwarfed by the outro of the song, which ends in frantic instrumentals and screaming vocals.
This Lettering hit preceded the group playing every song off of its newest EP — “Harbinger/Less Violent” — a six-song run with few breaks in between. If it weren’t for Redovan announcing the title of “YBP” to a roar from the crowd, it could have been mistaken for a medley.
The show peaked immediately after with an incredible performance of the band’s top hit “Other Shirt.” The chorus line — “Finally learned to love my skin” — echoed throughout the venue as the crowd screamed it right back at Redovan.
To follow their most well-known song, the trio decided to debut a new song that displayed their ever-evolving sound by retaining elements of their old songwriting — namely the driving rhythm section led by mathy guitar riffs — while introducing more stops.
Heavy red lights established the tone for the set with several of the songs having an excited, almost anxious feeling to them. The aggressive vocals on songs such as “New Lungs” only stood to reinforce this.
By the end of the night, the trio managed to play 10 songs — more than half its discography — in just 30 minutes.
The first song the band ever wrote, “Indiana,” capped off the set. Kristine Medriano’s drums on this piece made it nearly impossible not to headbang and dance, which is exactly what the crowd did until the conclusion of the set.
“Harbinger/Less Violent” is available on Apple Music and Spotify