Last Thursday night, we braved the Chicago cold on our way to the Ukrainian Village for a night of loud, hard rock. Having never seen any of these three Chicago outfits live, I was very much looking forward to this evening.

The Empty Bottle welcomed us in from the cold with open arms. Before I could even grab a beer, the venue’s claw machine stole my attention. After facing the devastating possibility that maybe, just maybe, we weren’t going to win the “bear puppy  bank” (those damn weak claws), we made our way towards stage and waited for the music to start.

Aktar Aktar were the first to take the stage. They led their set with a strong performance of “Rdrs”. The recorded version is impressive, but the live performance left me near speechless. The remainder of their set was equally as good, but damn. “Rdrs” was a perfect way to kick off the night.

Celebrating the release of their new record were North by North. Having only heard the band online, I thoroughly enjoyed their live performance and, most importantly, their volume. It’s not rock unless I’m left with my ears ringing, and I was.

Like pros, North by North flew through tracks from Something Wicked and touched on some of my favorites off the album, namely “Burn it Down” and “Catacombs”. They even unveiled a couple new songs that were written after they finished the album.

Nate’s guitar licks on “Soft Soul” were awesome; it was one of those concert moments where I just wanted to press repeat. Only pausing occasionally to promote their new, mint green vinyl and to thank the audience, it was obvious why these musicians were included in Red Eye’s 15 Chicago Artists to Watch in ’14.

The evening was capped off with a performance by The Ivorys. Before they began playing, the group set up a laser light and a fog machine,  clearly a sign of an awesome performance to come. Fronted by two leather-jacket clad musicians, their music sounded just as cool as they looked, classic-rock-meets-70s-punk.

Their set was great; stand out songs included “Drink In, Truth Out”, a dancey tune with one hell of a guitar line, and “To Hell With Waiting”. The keys on “To Hell With Waiting” were sometimes creepy, sometimes melodic, and still other times loud and intense. The Ivorys really got the crowd moving and were damn good, a performance only made better by lasers and fog.

The Ivorys | North by North | Aktar Aktar

LIVE PHOTOS BY DAN JARVIS