As Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Adam McIlwee threads together emo, trap beats, and occultism | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Music » Concert Preview

As Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Adam McIlwee threads together emo, trap beats, and occultism


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Pennsylvania singer-producer Adam McIlwee says he doesn’t like emo, but he’s anchored to the genre. For close to a decade, he fronted Tigers Jaw, one of the brightest acts in the fourth-wave emo scene, and his yearning vocals lent the band’s music a hard-to-measure bittersweet allure. McIlwee left the group in 2013, though, and pulled a creative 180 with Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, where he grafts crestfallen ballads onto trap percussion and foggy synths. Had he launched this solo endeavor ten years earlier it would’ve been called “witch house,” but as a founding member of GothBoiClique, whose ranks have included departed rap-star-in-the-making Lil Peep, his work has been relegated to the even less-defined world of “emo rap,” even though he doesn’t rap. In March he dropped Corinthiax (Dark Medicine), an EP of “occult romantic songs” that feels about as occult as it does rap or emo—which is to say the connection is loose, with McIlwee cherry-picking whatever aspects of the aforementioned elements will lend his music emotional clarity. The resulting songs, particularly “High Strangeness”—an intimate ballad built on twinkling synths, a subtle, echo-treated guitar melody, and percussion patterns that rattle like spoke cards—sparkle regardless of how you want to classify them.   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment