Thursday, September 29, 2011

You Missed Out: Megafaun

I don't often like to admit this, but I was raised in Joliet. Neighboring Wilmington and Elwood were also homesteads, which certainly doesn't make me feel any better about my white trash self. Sure, I live in Logan Square now, but my cell phone still has that dreaded 815 area code, I am still a White Sox fan, and I am still a red-headed stepchild. When Megafaun came to Schubas last night, it stirred up all that nostalgia of trailer park gravel and Kankakee River litter. The band took me back to my roots, and it felt so damn good.

Megafaun slid into the folk-rock party a little late, years after Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver blew the lid off the place. But this band is more than welcome. Their new self-titled album is what Blitzen Trapper and Wilco wish they could muster. Experimental noodling turns into back porch swing jams. Smokey Mountain harmonies soar so sweetly. It's a little country, rock, and (forgive me) indie in all the right ways. The end of the summer needed this album, and autumn looks even lovelier when it's on.

Schubas was magic. Whether the band was playing through the speakers or unplugged in the middle of the floor, the love-fest between the band and crowd was intensely strong. Everybody was smiling. The burly guys who looked like my old neighbors with the Bass Pro Shop hats and farming equipment t-shirts were enjoying the hell out of this music, without a hint of irony. Did they drive up to Lincoln Park from the southwest suburbs? I sure hope so.

This music is for anyone who loves CCR, Bob Seger, and Tom Petty, but refuses to call it "guilty pleasure." That Midwestern rock gets our fists up. We yell out "wooooo!" like we're at a stock car race. High fives reach across rooms. It just feels like the America we are proud of. The freedom we decide not to be cynical about every now and then. That's what Megafaun gives us. And that's something that Iron and Wine, Sufjan, and the other folk-rock revivalists never quite figured out.

It's especially nice to take a break from my tortured DJ persona. There isn't a chance I'll play Megafaun at Beauty Bar. I will play their music for myself, while I sit around with my dog and drink beer. Don't miss out next time. Hell, I might even drive down to Joliet if they ever decide to play a show down there. If you know me at all, you know how much that says about a band. Megafaun is worth it though.

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