The poll has closed. Meet the four bands chosen to headline the free concert at Metro.
We asked for the best music Chicago had to offer, and, boy, were you listening! From the stacks and stacks of Rock 'n' Vote submissions, we whittled the finalists down to these 10. Read about 'em here, listen to their mp3s and vote for your faves now through midnight Sunday. Remember: The top four vote-getters play a free concert May 24 at Metro, so show your support for the bands you want to see live.
What's a Reptoid, you ask? Well, it's half-alien, half-reptile, and the four members of the band all believe they were abducted by aliens at some point in their lives. "We all have strange scars on our bodies that we can't explain," says singer/guitarist Kay Oh. As for the band itself, the gritty punksters are three-quarters female, something Oh says is respected by musicians but often underestimated by audiences. "They usually ask us if our bassist wrote our songs for us, and if our boyfriends book our shows for us." Her response: "We're not really playing most of the time. It's just optical illusions."
Photo: The Reptoids
The Saturday Nights
Don't try to connect this band's music to its unusual album title, "Queenslandicus," which guitarist Paul Foreman explains is a prehistoric sea monster discovered off Queensland, Australia. The title is just meant to draw attention, but the group's music is what really captures interest. Blending classic rock, '70s fuzz and even a dash of '80s polish, the band's sound recalls a variety of artists while still sounding wholly original.
Photo: The Saturday Nights
Ever heard of a little band called Fall Out Boy? Ascot Fire offers a brand of edgy-but-tuneful modern rock similar to the group that put Chicago on the pop-punk map. Currently "promoting their butts off" to land a guest spot on Warped Tour, Ascot Fire's got gigs at Double Door, Elbo Room and Gunther Murphy's. And don't confuse the group, whose members range in age from 21 to 25, with Arcade Fire, either; singer Steven Sampila says they get asked about those Canadians all the time: "I like them, but there's no comparison [in style] at all."
Listen: "Something You Deserve"
Photo: Ascot Fire
The Emerald Lizards
If you mispronounce the first name of the Lizards' Cairo-born frontman Ayman Samman, you're not alone. It sounds like "I-men," but the singer says he often gets a "Jamaican pronunciation" of "Ay-mon." Now that you've been introduced, get to know the group's mix of "'60s-inspired garage rock, surf twang, blues-y swagger and manic punk energy."
Listen: "Make You Mine"
Photo: The Emerald Lizards
The Last Trio
OK, so The Last Trio won't really be the final three-member group in music history. But this University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign band makes its jazz rock hard, cranking out head-nod fusion with agile keyboards by Greg Spero, pounding basslines from Dan Wonsover, creative drumming from Jerald Gary and guest raps from Agent Mos. Spero's the only music major, but Gary, who went to school with a Thai prince, has some impressive experience: At age 15, he performed for the queen of Thailand.
Listen: "Piece 6"
Photo: The Last Trio
Lennox has only lived in Chicago for about two weeks -- he's originally from Montreal -- but he's been through town before to perform and has a feel for the local attitude. "From the shows that I've seen, there just seems to be a really great music scene," he says. Lennox is primed to add his name to the list of Chicago alt-country acts (Wilco, anyone?), whether he's performing solo, with a rock band or soon, he hopes, with horns and strings for a "mid-'60s, Nashville kind of sound."
Listen: "You Got To Move"
Photo: John Lennox
Want more strings with your rock? Get it from The Lifeline, which, according to violinist Rebecca Faber, has a clear formula: "Very heavy rock-with a violin." When paired with strong vocals from Ryan Hope, the band's sound overflows with passion and sincerity. They call it "class meets sass"; once you take a listen to their violin-as-lead-guitar sound, we bet you'll agree.
Listen: "Listening to the Lies"
Photo: The Lifeline
Kanye. Common. Lyric District? MC Roger Rodriguez says his hip-hop trio's sound draws a similar crowd to those paragons of Chicago rap (though we're guessing slightly smaller crowds). He calls the group's style "classy, fun hip-hop; not too gritty, not too grimy." Rodriguez met MC Brian Nevado at Addison Trail High School and joined up with producer Kenny Keys in college. They've rocked HotHouse, Subterranean and The Note; could Metro be next?
Photo: Lyric District
When we called Morgan with the news he'd made our finals, he asked if he could ring us back after he'd finished eating bagels with his girlfriend. That's cool. His beautiful take on mellow indie rock, inspired by his friendship with Elliott Smith, is worth waiting for. Morgan, whose album features piano, viola, violin and sleigh bells (just to name a few), says he loves songwriting "where it's just all possibility, and the song can go anywhere."
Listen: "Supine on the Covers"
Photo: Andrew Morgan
People often ask these guys if the band's name implies something dirty, or if it just refers to the stuffed otter on their goofy album cover. Singer/guitarist Mike Pritchard won't answer one way or the other; the name, he says, "Just kind of looks cool when it's written down, and it's fun to say." Otter Petter delivers sugary pop that's part Matthew Sweet and part, as Pritchard says, "like a really, really happy Death Cab for Cutie."
Listen: "From the Beginning"
Photo: Otter Petter
Voting will be monitored by metromix staff.Originally published May 3, 2006.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times