A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I decided, basically on a whim, to see rising Australian band Methyl Ethyl at the Chicago stop for their recent tour. We dug a couple of the band’s songs that had been getting some airplay on XM Radio in the weeks prior and thought it was a good opportunity to check out The Empty Bottle, the renowned dive bar-ish venue in Humboldt Park that was hosting the show. Being used to venues with earlier start times like Concord and Lincoln Hall, we naively walked into the place around 9pm thinking we’d probably catch some of the opener. We hit the cash-only bar then looked around and quickly noticed that, not only were the opening bands not even set up yet, but we were practically the first people there (also known as the “WOW, I’m going to end up drinking a zillion beers and feel this at work tomorrow” affect). So, we strapped in for a long night of drinking, hanging out and relatively unknown tunes. It ended up being a great night, but not because of the awesome venue or headliner, but rather the sensational opener – Blonder.
Blonder is the brain child of lead singer/guitar player Constantine V., who has catapulted the Brooklyn-based foursome into increasing national notoriety over the past year. Blonder’s style blends power-pop chords and synths with catchy lyrics and cool lo-fi riffs. So it should really be no surprise that New Wave and post-punk 80s music helped lay the groundwork for their signature sound. When I caught up with Constantine after the end of their latest string of tour dates, he was able to expand a bit on their influences, “Sometimes I like to think about it like if Duran Duran and New Order had a kid, but that’s saying too much. Definitely was into Scritti Politti that 80’s band, New York bands like Velvet Underground, The Strokes and Porches all figure pretty heavily on the inspiration. But there’s also a Tears for Fears element to me, something kind of grand I’m trying to find in the songs.”
Unsurprisingly, people across the nation are eating it up, as recently released single “In and Out” has been featured on various popular streaming playlists, such as Apple Music’s “Hot Alternative” and Spotify’s “Ultimate Indie.” The song is just the third single the band has dropped in its short history, but faced a long a long road prior to its April release date. However, the popularity of the track isn’t getting to Blonder’s head quite yet. Constantine told me they were mainly just happy to have the finished product out there after a long journey of tinkering with the production and writing. The band put out the sensational “Lean” and “Talk to Me” singles to glowing reviews last year, and fans won’t have to wait much longer for a new crop of music. Blonder is planning on releasing much anticipated EP $5 this summer, with a tentative July date on the horizon.
Blonder’s set at the Empty Bottle was incredible. The foursome were energetic, skilled players as well as being a very tight, cohesive unit that clearly has played their fair share of shows together. In addition to the string of dates opening for Methyl Ethyl, Blonder was also recently on the road with fellow-Brooklynites Wet for east coast shows. The mini-tours were a positive experience for the band, “The tour was really great. Every show was really better than what we expected and people seemed to really get it and that’s just really special to me… This run with Methyl Ethel was cool because we got to play the classic -250 person clubs like 7th Street Entry (Minneapolis), Empty Bottle, The Garrison (Toronto), Baby’s All Right (Brooklyn), Boots & Saddle (NYC) – all really cool to play in. You can feel like a lot of bands have started there and that’s cool.” Constantine & crew are also in the process of planning another tour now for the summer.
Brooklyn has always been a bastion for the creative arts, and indie music has certainly always flourished in the area. In recent years alone, bands such as DIIV, Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend, Sunflower Bean and the aforementioned Wet all started in the Brooklyn area, among countless others. Will Blonder be the next artist from the borough primed to take the main stage? My bet says yes. Be on the lookout for summer tour dates as well as the $5 EP this summer.
Suggested Tracks: “In and Out” “Lean” “Talk to Me”
Photo Credits – Facebook, Immersedincoolmusic.com