Lilac are basically a supergroup of musicians from Chicago who have spent time in underrated bands. They include former Cacaw and Coughs singer Anya Davidson (also an underground and occasional comic artist and writer Reader contributor) on guitar and vocals, Kenny Rasmussen (late Anatomy of Habit) on drums, and two veterans of Baltimore band Witch Hat, Chris Day on bass and Conor Stechschulte on guitar and vocals. Lilac released a debut single, “Barbed Wire Entanglement” b/w “On a Wheel”, in 2018, and last year they released a self-titled debut album. Maybe it’s the era, maybe it’s my wiring, but even though many of the reviews I’ve read of the record describe its jagged, loud sound as “creepy”, I find something soothing in its intense and powerful strangeness. “Woman in Power” combines updated riot-grrrl rage with a circular, funky groove that could lead to creative moves in the mosh pit. “Burn Down the White House” is as sharp and heavy as a Godzilla stalking the night. And “Savage Alphabet” gives us an eerily tender affirmation: “You’re a shitty animal on the arch deck / You’re a baby in the dark, green, cold, wet darkness.”
Also on the invoice are Moaning Storms, a quartet from Durham, North Carolina, who incorporate a heady Southern folk and Gothic vibe into their sharp postpunk sound. On July 22, they will release their fifth album, The silver serpent unfolds (Gilead Media), and it’s a sharp, smoky grilling of tension and reward. “Sunday Morning Ceremony” rises and falls, its frenetic pace and strategic breaks unfolding as if driven by a terrifying frenzy, until it culminates in a ghostly breakdown. “Drag” focuses on her own ghostly breakdown, which feels naked and very scared. “Carolina Moon” tells a strange fairy tale with seductive dreamlike logic, and frontman Justin Storms seems very conflicted about whether to fight it or embrace it. The evening kicks off with a set by Chicago rock trio The poison arrowswho released their long-delayed fourth album, war greetings (File 13), in February. They kept it on COVID ice for a while, but it’s a comeback (the band hadn’t released anything since 2017 No known remarks) with a tough, unified sound and a great guest spot from Chicago rapper Sterling Hayes on “We Are Collateral.” This eclectic bill features three bands of varying intensity flavors, all of which could be at the peak of their power. It’s all killer, no filler.
Lilac Wailin Storms and poison arrows open. Wed 8/3, 8:30 p.m., Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $10, 21+