This past Thursday I ventured out to Cicero’s to see one of my friend’s bands called Blackwater ’64. Also on the bill was a local act from Lebanon, Illinois called Hymn River Suite and a regional act from North Carolina called American Aquarium. Each band had their own unique sound and blended together very well which doesn’t happen often at local shows around town.
Hymn River Suite is an interesting mix of old school country like Merle Haggard and David Allan Coe with an aggressively punk attitude. Vocalist and guitar player Justin Mathenia commanded the crowd’s attention with a twang in his voice and a straight up “Fuck You if you don’t like us attitude” which made for a great opener. Following them was local act, Blackwater ’64, who have released some tunes on Reverberation.com on their Facebook page which I don’t believe accurately portray their sound or potential as a band. Their new record comes out soon and seeing them live I’d compare them to the sound off an all around great American rock band remnant of Gaslight Anthem. These two band’s sets led the crowd fantastically into American Aquarium’s performance, which was an energetic indie rock/country sound comparable to early Frank Turner without the English folk undertones. American Aquarium also had a strong old school country vibe with slide guitar whaling in the background of most of their songs.
If you see any of these bands pop up around town check them out and enjoy a great night of unsigned local music. I have to be honest that sometimes local shows don’t have much to offer with the cookie cutter sound our local scene seems to gravitate towards, but I have to be honest in saying that all three of these acts I saw at Cicero’s seemed to be playing music they wanted to make because they enjoyed it which is refreshing to see in a band. The photos in the slide show go in order of American Aquarium, Blackwater ’64, and Hymn River Suite.