Young, the DIY Lifeguard band has a show in Metro

Young, the DIY Lifeguard band has a show in Metro

They may be young, but your local teen lifeguard squad knows what they’re doing. Perhaps this speaks to their budding genius, which can be heard on their latest release, “Crowd Can Talk.” Smart, enthusiastic and truly talented, Lifeguard is part of a relatively new and wildly ambitious DIY scene rocking the city’s eclectic music scene.

Band members Isaac Lowenstein, Kai Slater and Asher Case met during a live show in 2019 where some were performing with popular Horsegirl Local Law (Lowenstein’s sister is Horsegirl member Penelope Lowenstein). It was there that they met Slater (who was in a different band playing that night), and after the show, they exchanged contact information.

“It was just kind of like, ‘I needed to do this.’” Case said of creating their own band.

“I just thought it was amazing,” Slater added. “I guess it wasn’t spoken. We just knew we had that connection together.”

Within the first two days of playing together, they wrote two songs, the result of “a huge creative explosion”. Their songwriting was spot on. Unlike other bands who have an individual songwriter to craft the bulk of their songs, Lifeguard works together.

“It never changes, and it’s very nice to kind of do that. I think there’s never too much conflict because everybody kind of understands that. Like, we all kind of write it, and it’s kind of building something that’s all of our input.” Lowenstein said, I think this is the way to be happiest with your music.”

“We tend to like the outcome more when we all contribute to it,” Case added.

Learning how to play together led to a more standardized songwriting process. Improv sessions soon led to full tracks. So far, the method of their creation has been successful.

Since its launch in 2019, The group issued Several EPs, the latter being their debut on the Chicago-based Born Yesterday label. Filled with propulsive beats and hazy guitar riffs from the EP’s first few seconds, “Crowd Can Talk” is a confident record, and easily one of the best domestic releases of the year. This is a group that knows what they are doing. Keen listeners will recognize the subtle growth between the two releases in just two short years. From faltering enthusiasm to assured confidence, Lifeguard has settled on a sound and spirit to match their youthful energy.

“I don’t think there was ever an idea of ​​what success looked like. I think more than anything, what we wanted to do was just get something out creatively,” Lowenstein said.

Performance, however, is what really makes the Lifeguard a click. For the first two months of their formation, they performed at their local block gig. And as creators, many of their songs are reworked, written and mastered through live performances. The energy from the masses fuels the art and vice versa.

“I don’t want to speak for the band, but I think we’re definitely a live band first and foremost,” said Slater. “And it’s kind of like where we do things. This is where we write.”

Lowenstein described it as a cyclical process, one that involved writing together through rehearsals, then performing the music live and returning to the next rehearsal to talk about how their impromptu edits to the song worked or didn’t work.

“We could never sit down and say we’re going to write a song,” said Slater.

We tried, Lowenstein replied. They all laughed.

“And I think that also helps us avoid being like prog rock, like, we want to have cohesive, cohesive songs that do what they need to do,” Slater added. “And you don’t do 10 minutes of guitar solos and dragons and whatever.”

It remains to be seen where they go next, but the group isn’t sweating it. Two EPs (plus many more hit singles and an abundance of live performances) in two years than most acts twice their age can make.

In the end, what matters most to them now is making music that connects them to their young community. Do you get their peers excited? Do you get people to stand on their feet? Does it last after the last note? It’s all at the heart of Lifeguard, and ultimately what makes it so compelling to a growing legion of homegrown fans.

“If they’re dancing to it, you know that’s a good sign,” Slater said.

“That’s when you know you wrote the next hit,” Lowenstein added.

“I mean, we kind of write songs for kids in a very weird, Frankenstein-ian, slow way, I guess,” Slater replied.

“It’s just like, when you see all your friends in front of the stage, and you can see they’re enjoying it, and… You are on Enjoying it, it’s important because of that sense of community.”

7 p.m. Dec. 8 at Metro with Friko and Cafe Racer, 3730 N. Clark; Tickets are $15 – $20 apiece metrochicago.com

Brett Julius is an independent critic.

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