Pillaging Hallowed Grounds

Something was wrong at the Reynolds Club. The late Saturday sun hadn’t quite set, and passersby on 57th street turned their faces up towards the second floor coffee shop with varying degrees of concern, curiosity, and confusion. The perpetrator? The noisily melodic wails and screams of Divinity School student Daniel Wyche, a man who “usually plays guitar pedals while his guitar sits on the ground somewhere nearby.” Wyche, bent over an electronic mess of dials and knobs, was performing as part of a three-act concert coordinated by radio station WHPK and student group TRIX, the University of Chicago’s resident punk and alternative music enthusiasts.

This was not a show that catered to the uninitiated. Audience and cast members for an upstairs production of “The Vagina Monologues” clustered outside the doors of Hallowed Grounds coffee shop tentatively. The more adventurous peeked inside, but true fans made themselves known. This crowd–college age, mostly male, and largely bespectacled–almost looked ready to take a serious academic interest in the proceedings. Hallowed Grounds, while still open, was not selling much coffee.

Wyche was followed by Spanyurd and Preachy Preach, two local bands specializing in the kind of music that you feel more than hear. Spanyurd, a Chicago trio that jokingly fancies itself “nu-metal for the politically correct,” thickened the air with its manic psychedelia and heavy post-hardcore riffs. Preachy Preach played on its home turf; the band is comprised of UofC undergraduates Steve Balogh, Mike Splendore, and Josh Oberman. The trio has appeared over the years at both South Side and more northern venues, including the now defunct Moving Castle. On this night, they delighted in their own apocalyptic noise. Forceful riffs and deep grooves were considered by the audience rather than celebrated–many in the front row sat nodding appreciatively. One man lay on his back with a book. There’s a healthy contingent of Hyde Park devotees. But who else knew that UofC actually had punk bands? It’s a not-quite-rhetorical question that the show asked even in its promotional materials. Now, thanks to the efforts of TRIX operatives, the answer is “everyone who was on University Avenue between 56th and 58th Streets on Saturday night.”