Wolf Eyes are experimental music’s most prolific act—and most prolific meme makers | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Music » Concert Preview

Wolf Eyes are experimental music’s most prolific act—and most prolific meme makers


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Detroit-based duo Wolf Eyes have been one of the country’s most important experimental-music acts for more than 20 years, but they’ve also developed a mainstream following due to their presence in the world of viral meme Instagram accounts—it’s nearly impossible to talk about the band without bringing it up. For the past few years, longtime Wolf Eyes member John Olson has been operating the Instagram account inzane_johnny, and he’s racked up more than 100,000 followers by posting dozens of ridiculous memes a day, including takes on the standard Spongebob and Drake templates as well as relatively heady content focused on trolling Steely Dan, Bard College, and experimental guitarist Bill Nace. Olson’s relentlessness in shitposting is matched by his musical output: since he joined Wolf Eyes in 2000, four years after Nate Young launched the band as a solo project, they’ve put out hundreds of recordings. This nonstop barrage of out-there, freaked-out sounds mixes up electronic ambience, crushing noise, industrial minimalism, and skull-rattling power electronics. Lately, Olson and Young have been pioneering a genre they’ve dubbed “psycho jazz”—dark soundscapes smeared with processed woodwinds and effects-bent vocals running over simple electronic beats. Wolf Eyes have always been challenging and intense, and they don’t seem to be slowing their pace: as I write this, Olson has posted on Instagram about a brand-new tour-only Wolf Eyes release. It’s amazing that he can still find the time to expand the group’s sonic palette, considering how much of his life he spends posting Saint Paul vs. Minneapolis memes.   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?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Add a comment