And now, more about the music.
Elvisbride (l to r): Matt Test, Tom Vale, Taylor Bibat, Casey Cunningham and Troy Martin.
The backstory of Elvisbride is far too intricate to be conveyed by an outsider to the world they're creating, and while I am an epic fan, I am most certainly an outsider. I'll let one of their number fill you in.
The band began as a play:
Last winter, my friend Jayita Bhattacharya and I wrote a piece for the Curious Theatre Branch's Rhinoceros Theatre festival, compromisingly titled ElvisBride: Some Prepared Notes to Clarify the Impending Jubilation. It was a widely ambitious mix of surreal kitchen sink dialog, Robert Ashley drone opera, video monologing, and live music. To quote The Hunchback Variations, "our collaboration was doomed." My apartment had just flooded out, leaving me transient for the bulk of the rehearsal/writing process, and Jayita broke her leg opening night. Needless to say, there was slight tinge of albatrossity to the project.
Luckily we had compiled, mostly through begging, strong arming, and tantrum throwing, a tremendously talented team of performers, musicians, and tech folks who were game for whatever dumbass thing we threw at them. That's the extent of both my sucking up and alliterating, but you get the point. Beau O'Reilly, the curator of Rhino, asked us to perform a few songs at the Viaduct theatre to promote the show, and in a castoff-turned-fortuitous moment, my friend Michael Martin suggested we become a band. He claims we still owe him a quarter for taking him up on it.
After a couple week post show cooling off period, I proposed the idea to the group, because nothing entices veteran performers quite like the prospect of an unending rehearsal process with no fixed goal and only a vague notion of what the hell you're doing. And that's basically what starting a band is. But its also totally awesome, because you're in a band, and who doesn't want to be in a band? Almost everyone from the show said yes. I'm still shocked.
We've spent a lot of time since then stumbling around, rehearsing, playing gigs when we weren't quite ready, rehearsing some more, writing more, playing more, playing better, figuring out a balance between the theatricality and musicality, playing really well, casually swearing, coordinating our outfits, buying matching sweat bands. The stuff you do when you're in a band. The important stuff.
-Matt Test, ElvisBride
We of the Ruckus stumbled upon Elvisbride rather fortuitously, having performed on opposing nights of this year's Et Cetera festival (thanks a bunch, The Mill!) We were all hooked right away, and I think you will be, too. This is a remarkably talented bunch, and they've found a pretty fascinating blend of gothic folk and theatricality that is unlike anything else I've seen. They all have some serious game musically, are entertaining as hell to watch, play a slew of instruments, and have really rockin' sweatbands. It's a truly unique sound, paired with lyrics that veer from comic to terrifying and explore subjects as diverse as the malevolent spirits of otters and self-cannibalism.
They also have the distinction of being far-and-away the largest band that'll be playing in TELL IT. They might all fit on our little platform... but I have no idea where the cello and the saw are going to go.
Catch Elvisbride all over Chicago, all the time -- bars, theaters, coffee shops, rooftops, etc -- but if you want to see them work the banjo into a Flaming Lips tune, you'll have to see them in TELL IT & SPEAK IT & THINK IT & BREATHE IT. They'll be going on Tuesday October 27th and Tuesday November 3rd. Tickets here.
Oh, and for the curious: here's a preview of the-play-that-begot-the-band: