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Kids These Days plays the Mill

BY JORDAN MONTGOMERY | FEBRUARY 23, 2012 6:30 AM

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South of the bars, businesses, and banks that line Clinton Street is a massive old house. Upstairs, a window facing the street is propped open with a 2x4, allowing music to pour outside. But unlike most apartments in this college town, the music is not coming from a boom box or a stereo system.

The three musicians who make up Chasing Shade are creating the sounds.

The indie folk-rock trio will open for the Chicago-based Kids These Days at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., at 9 p.m. Friday. Admission is $8 in advance, $10 on the day of the show.

The openers

Chasing Shade comprises three Iowans hailing from different cities across the eastern part of the state. Guitarist Elliott Beenk and bassist Tim Cigrand met as freshmen in Slater and connected through music.

After seeing drummer and vocalist Griffen Harris perform, Beenk and Cigrand asked him to jam with them. Chasing Shade was born shortly after that.

The three UI seniors now live together in Iowa City and practice about four times a week. Their jam space is tight: Massive black amplifiers, speakers, and a drum kit build a perimeter around the room's centerpiece, an aging foosball table.

"Luckily, we've never gotten a noise complaint," Harris said. "We know the entire house and some of the neighbors. Last year, we didn't, so we would always stop before 9, except for when we didn't."

Chasing Shade's rehearsals are rather laid-back. The members continually move around the room, because all three are multi-instrumentalists. Beenk doubles as a banjo player, Cigrand occasionally plays the piano, and Harris' original instrument is the acoustic guitar.

"When we are creating a song, one of us will bring in an idea, and we'll jam on it for a while and see what develops naturally," Beenk said. "We talk about influences, what direction we want it to go, whether it's acoustic or a little more rocking. And it usually develops on its own."

Though the rehearsals are laid-back, the musicians share a serious aspiration: getting Chasing Shade's name out there.

The group is doing a good job.

It won first place in a battle of the bands at the Yacht Club and was awarded a week of recording time at Iowa City's Flat Black studio. There, the members produced their album pen to paper.

Chasing Shade performed at the Summer Camp Music Festival in Chilicothe, Ill., and recently spent a few weekends performing at the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival. The group also toured in Colorado last summer.

"After a show at a coffee shop in Colorado, one of the workers offered us to go back to his place to record some songs," Harris said. "We went, thinking it was going be a creepy basement kind of thing, like we were never going to see our families again. It ended up being this multimillion-dollar studio."

That night, Chasing Shade recorded "Sunburned Bones." The song was available to download on its band-camp website for a monetary donation, and all of the money earned from the track was donated to this year's University of Iowa Dance Marathon.

The headliners

Kids These Days has a sound that transcends the restraints and borders of genres. The seven-piece group is features a combination of classic rock band, horn section, and words of a rapper.

Members of the band note diverse influences, including Rage Against the Machine, Adele, Parliament Funkadelic, Fiona Apple, and Wilco. The sound they create is as diverse as those influences.

"I think that our music touches on every single genre," said vocalist and keyboardist Macie Stewart. "Everyone can take something from it. Our music speaks for itself."

Kids These Days lives up to its name: The members of the group are young, and they are as talented as they are young. Most of them met while attending Whitney Young High in Chicago during the week and the Merit School of Music on the weekends.

They work to ensure that they provide the best experience for their fans.

"We rehearse almost every day," Stewart said. "We make sure that our shows are tight and together. But it's mostly just playing our stuff over and over again and having fun with it. We really love what we do."

The members' work has earned them a spot at South by Southwest in March, one of the largest music festivals in the United States. They are also will play a show in Cleveland with Kid Cudi and Parliament Funkadelic. The group's rapper, Vic Mensa, believes this experience will help them grow as musicians.

"We always try to learn from the people that we play with," he said. "We played with a band called Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, and they are amazing musicians. It's not our style by any means, but it's an amazing live show, and it's something that we have definitely learned from."

For Kids These Days, producing the best live show is everything.

"We try to keep the audience [members] on their toes and keep them moving," Mensa said. "We feed off the crowd. That's not to say that if it's a small crowd, we're not going to do our thing. We've got to put on the best show that we can every night."


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