By my count, Sons Of An Illustrious Father have played in Chicago 5 times over the past 6 years (I’ve been to 4). In July of 2012 they came to town and played at Observatory Studios as the trio of Lilah Larson, Josh Aubin, and Jake Generalli (opening for a band I loved, and now defunct, The Canoes-drummer moved on to play in Ezra Furman’s band The Boy-Friends). Later they returned and hit Subterranean with Lexie Roth filling in for Ezra Miller (they’re the backing band on Lexie’s latest EP, Move Me). Both of these shows were pretty under the radar, but got a few people out. They opened for Saul Williams at Lincoln Hall a couple years later. After a long wait they finally came back to play Tonic Room last March. A little over a year later they hit Schubas on their biggest headlining tour to date. Last night’s sold out show was truly a celebration of perseverance.
It was an early show. I got there at 20 minutes to seven thinking that doors opened at that time. I could not have been more wrong-any chance of getting up front was already gone (stupid work). I found a spot where I could take pictures at an angle that had the least tall people in the way and I waited.
Destroy Boys hit the stage a little after seven and ran through a fun set of punk tunes that got the crowd in the back moshing. Lead singer Alexia Roditis came down to the floor a couple times to join the crowd while Vi Mayugba shredded on the guitar. It was a good warmup for Sons and I would see them again.
Sons didn’t start until about 815, so there was a decent wait between sets. Someone near me fainted and they called an ambulance, but she was fine and back in time to catch the headlining set. Lilah, Josh, and Ezra came out to a huge applause that was pretty well maintained throughout the show. The setlist stuck mostly to the new album, Deus Sex Machiina: Or, Moving Slowly Beyond Nikola Tesla. It’s a great album, so check it out if you haven’t.
If you’ve never seen them play live, you might be surprised that there’s a decent amount of instrument switches going on. I was at the side that featured Josh starting on keyboards, with Lilah on guitar in the middle and Ezra on the other end on drums. Of course they all sing. So there isn’t a big gap while they change, they did a great a cappella version of “All Apologies” by Nirvana in the middle of the stage and continued singing while they were moving on to their next thing. By the end of the show Lilah was on drums, Josh was on lead guitar, and Ezra was on keyboards for “Crystal Tomes” and their cover of Bowie’s “I’m Afraid Of Americans.”
They smartly released four singles from the new album, featuring all three singing lead. They played these, and the biggest cheers were for “US Gay,” which was the first one released way back in April of 2017. It couldn’t have come at a better time, with Pride Fest just ending the day before and the parade this weekend.
This band never ceases to amaze me. I’ve been writing about them since 2011 and every time I think they’ve hit their peak, they go and obliterate their personal best. Even if only for an hour or so, I’m so glad I got to see them again and I’m already looking forward to next time.