event

Kickstand Productions Presents

Free Throw, Chris Farren, Youth Fountain, Macseal

Events

Sep 11 Wed
Free Throw, Chris Farren, Youth Fountain, Macseal7:00 PM
2011 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL
All Ages
Tickets $15.00

Free Throw

Two years before  emo/indie rock outfit Free Throw formed in Nashville, the Memphis Grizzlies made national headlines for their “grit and grind.” Some not familiar with basketball may assume this was another phrase describing the team’s tireless work ethic. Journalists and analysts claimed this “grit and grind” was their disruptive defense. A ‘free throw’ is usually given to a player disrupted by defense — so while unintentionally borrowing the ethos of their home state’s NBA franchise, Free Throw went on the offensive.

Consider the band’s signature play: a three-guitar attack which stacks raw immediacy with large-scale aspirations. Sometimes this arrangement is abrasive; other times it’s more nuanced. What connects these two different threads is Cory Castro’s frayed vocals, gaining their power from a violent shout and their confessions from a measured whimper.

Combine that range with a set of lyrical themes that play out like an uneasy three-way phone call and what remains fills speakers with a darkness offset by instrumentals which sway and bend with warm nostalgia.

But what fills most of Free Throw’s golden playbook is a commitment to winning their own way. After strings of DIY touring circuits and an intense love affair with their van, it’s clear to see their blooming, road-tested legacy answers to no one but their enthusiastic audiences. With their live sets packing rooms across the country, not without alcohol and crowd sing-alongs in tow, it seems this grind has paid off so far, with the grit packing their songs with not just unrelenting talent, but the forward-thinking energy to match.

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Chris Farren

Can’t Die is a clever blend of pop and gloom, the sort of record that will keep you dancing even when the lyrics cut deep. Farren, who cites Coconut Records, Belle & Sebastian, and Magnetic Fields as his influences while recording, has crafted a record that has a true indie-pop sensibility and remains musically upbeat throughout.

Yet there is an undeniable sadness to certain tracks as well as a heavy focus on death and mortality, like on “Until I Can See The Light,” which was partly inspired by the death of Parks and Recreation writer Harris Wittels amongst other friends that have passed recently. It’s about “how weird it is that they’re gone,” explains Farren. “You don’t get to talk to them anymore.”

Chris Farren is one of those names that is always on the tip of your tongue. Though he’s played in popular bands Fake Problems and Antarctigo Vespucci — and he’s become well-known for his inventive merch, including his take on the classic The Smiths shirt — Farren is still working on breaking out in the large world of singer-songwriters. After experimenting and honing his solo work on a few memorable EPs and a Christmas album called Like A Gift From God or Whatever, Farren is ready to become known for his own unique approach, on his own terms.

At the end of the day, Can’t Die is a record that is wholly reflective of Chris Farren’s new sound. It’s not Fake Problems or Antarctigo Vespucci but instead it’s a sound that is entirely his: resonating indie-pop that captures all of the weird little anxieties of being in your twenties and realizing that you can’t control everything around you. Can’t Die adds some lightness to that, resulting in a record that makes listeners happy while also recognizing that it’s OK to be sad sometimes, too.

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