Three men in burgundy hats and yellow polo shirts walk onstage and start to set up. There are four guitars, noticeably worn and customized. Some show scratches and paint. Some have multiple tuning pegs plucked out.
Everyone standing in the Horn Gallery slowly moves to the front as they begin to play. The Hecks open the first show of the year at the Horn Gallery on Aug. 31. The lead guitar is sharp, and the kick drum sends out a deep, rushing undercurrent. It picks up rapidly. The lead guitar player moves up to the mic to start singing on top of the strange, jangly sound. The music does not crescendo; in the crowded building it echoes loudly, and everyone dances to a steadily exciting rhythm.
This is the type of experience you can expect seeing The Hecks, a jangle-rock band out of Chicago. Two of them, Andy Mosiman and Zach Vettraino, met as college roommates. And and Zach tell how their third member, Dave, helped them record an earlier record and provided such good advice that they added him to the group. Mosiman explained that their unique style is the result of being around so many amazing artists that “back in the day we wanted to do all we could to stand out.”
It’s because of this they have their “wonky” tuned guitars: Andy explained that he modifies the guitars because “if a guitar is tuned standard that’s how it’s gonna sound, standard,” and for him that extra difference and twang is “the tonal version of turning the amp up to 11.” Vettraino and Mosiman describe their desired aesthetic and dress as “goofy all-American fast-food workers. Just really neutral and non-confrontational.” Asked if they are headed anywhere to play more shows, Vettraino say that they are “laying low” as they work on their second album.
Jungle Green, the next band, saunters up. A few members from The Hecks walk up to talk to them. People sit outside to get away from the heat inside the building for a little bit. Despite the season The Hecks still mostly wear their signature hats. Jungle Green starts to play and people drift in. Jungle Green is another band out of Chicago, with a similar retro look but a jumble of different individual styles. The lead singer has strange futuristic cyclops sunglasses. There’s a frilly shirt paired with a jean jacket in the mix and a retro mustache.
They have two keyboards, drums and guitars along with a few other instruments. “Fun is our style,” Lead singer Andrew Smith says when prolpted about it. Their music goes on to inspire sock-hop feelings in addition to hectic moshing later around the lead singer as he kneels singing shirtless among the crowd.
The lead singer founded the band. They all went to Columbia College in Chicago and slowly built up to the full group. Andrew writes the melody and then they make up a style for the rest of the instruments that fits the tone of the melody. They are going on tour starting in October with The Lemon Twigs, a rock band from Long Island, N.Y. They are traveling eastward from Los Angeles and up the east coast all the way to Montreal. Between tours , they are working on their upcoming album called “Forged Artifacts.”
The band packs up everything and then lingers for a while. They talk to people who liked the show, or to the various people working that night. Jungle Green all gather around Gabe Jimenez-Ekman ‘19, who reached out to them. Soon the crowd of people who came to the show has scattered. The band heads off, somewhat reluctantly ending their night at the Horn.