I'm starting a regular series of posts that will examine some of Chicago's most seminal (and sometimes most under-appreciated) bands, both active and inactive. As a resident of the city and avid concertgoer, the Chicago music scene has been played a significant role in my musical development. A large chunk of my high school experience was devoted to listening to and following the progress of the Chicago music scene, from in-your-face (albeit melodic-leaning) punk rock like Screeching Weasel, the Broadways, and the Methadones to experimental ska like the Blue Meanies to the snotty rock-and-roll stylings of Apocalypse Hoboken and Mexican Cheerleader.
Why is Chicago such an influential music scene? I'd like to think it's part of a blue collar esthetic that embodies itself in emotional, honest art. Maybe it's the term "Chicagoan" and the spirit of unity and empathy that word evokes among those that label themselves as such. Maybe you want me to shut the hell up and get on with it.
Without further ado, I'd like to present the first band of the ongoing series, the ironic, melodic, and iconic punk rock outfit Oblivion.
Although I never got to see Oblivion live (they were slightly before my time), the band existed in some form or another from 1988-2000. I was introduced to their extremely catchy brand of punk rock in 8th grade by a scene-savvy friend. It took me a few listens to really get into them, but there was something totally mind-blowing about their sound.
What really set Oblivion apart from the rest of the scene was a slovenly intensity that manifested itself in short, melodic bursts of pure rock-and-roll energy. Oblivion's music is wrought with key changes and ironic lyrics; in short, they had punk rock energy with a firm grasp on music, what defines a sound, and how to make that sound attractive.
Oblivion ran with the Johann's Face crowd (spectacular Chicago label), playing tons of shows with the likes of Apocalypse Hoboken and No Empathy. Although they're no longer a band, you can hear a lot of the band's sound in former Oblivion lead singer Pete Kourim's newest band, Mexican Cheerleader.
The internet is apparently a blackhole for Oblivion media. Check out a couple of my favorite Oblivion songs below.
"It's all been said before / but we had to say it again."
- Pete Oblivion, "We Had to Say It Again"