Best of Chicago 2009 | Music Feature | Chicago Reader

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Best of Chicago 2009

Best Rock or Pop Act



The Reader's Choice: Stranger Waves

I first saw the Stranger Waves accidentally, when my bandmate and I got booked to spin at a Bottle show in November with Baby Alright and White Mystery. The Stranger Waves were opening, and though they looked pretty young, they were dressed cool and seemed to be having fun—even before they picked up their instruments we thought they'd probably be decent. Then they finally got onstage and from the first beat just blew everyone's minds like it was no big thing. With two guitars, drums, and three vocals they managed to kick up a bigger racket than bands twice their size. They had riffs like AC/DC, a song called "When I Sleep" I bet the Black Lips would kill to have written, and a cover of Wreckless Eric's "(I'd Go the) Whole Wide World" that turned even jaded scenesters into fist-pumping superfans. I learned later that it was not only the Stranger Waves' first Bottle show but their first show at any club—they're all 18, and up till then they'd only been playing house parties. Along with the Smith Westerns, Puking Pearls, and Teenage Dream, they're part of a scene that's been percolating in north-side basements and garages for the past couple years and is just now starting to emerge. Many of these bands either went to or still go to Miss Alex White's old high school, Northside Prep, and she's had a hand in getting them started in the city's club scene. "It's sweet to see these city kids, like, pull up the reins on Chicago rock 'n' roll and sort of take over," she says. If they promise to stay good, I say we should let them have it. Stranger Waves open for Quintron & Miss Pussycat at the Empty Bottle on April 10. —Miles Raymer

&Our readers' choicePoi Dog Pondering

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