Chicago has the best up and coming punk scene. There I said it.

By Maryam Hassan

I’ve lived in London for nearly 30 years and it’s safe to assume that as someone who has grown up in a big city, I am spoilt for choice when it comes to music. So when I decided I needed to move as far away from London as I could, I knew the place I was moving to was going to have to have an amazing punk scene. Luckily for me the city with a large group of people I love, Chicago, also happens to have a pretty brilliant punk scene.

I mean historically it’s always been fantastic for punk, I can (and have) listened to my buddy Marc Ruvolo talk about the punk scene in Chicago from the 80’s onwards with fascination and have seen a whole load of up and coming bands in Chicago who are as brilliant and have as much potential as those who have come before.

When I’m there I’m all about the local band shows, the support bands that go on first rather than bands I can watch back home in London. So when I went over in 2011 to start to check out if Chicago was exactly where I wanted to uproot to, I found myself at a Good Luck show watching a band called Dead End Days – the pet project of Mike Petruccelli. I’ve watched him move on from what was his “college angst” band to acoustic projects and now to two bands; Tens (who we’ll talk about later) and Rapids (

The latter of these two just released an EP which mixes the stuff I love most about Midwest Emo – the really melodic guitar parts and all of the emotions – with absolutely brilliant lyrics. I’ve always said Petruccelli is one of the most talented songwriters and it’s awesome we’ve got bands that match that musically as well. If Rapids aren’t doing big things in the next year I’ll eat my hat.

I’m a sucker for some straight up punk rock and punk bands with a twist. I always have been. Maybe that’s why I love Fest so much.

Dog & Wolf ( combine that with a little bit of a folky, country twang to it which as we get into summer is exactly what the doctor ordered right? They are sort of like an American version of Crazy Arm. I stumbled across them listening to some support bands of a show my friends were going to.

If you like your punk with a side of rock and roll you could go for Whipped ( who write a lot of songs about robots but it’s all well and good when they kick so much ass. If you dig concept songs and Rise Against you’ll be all over this.

Another band I’m dying to see live but always missing by a day are Costanza ( Fun, loud, fast punk rock is something that will always win me over and this is that at it’s best which means it’s perfect to have a dance to.

Lastly, this is where I should bring back Tens ( which includes members of Rapids, Two Houses AND Costanza. Absolutely killer basslines, catchy melodies and just all round perfect punk songs. If you go away without at least one song here stuck in your head I’ll buy you a beer. Punk rock at it’s best.

Two Houses ( played a show on the day I was leaving in April, and I was kicking myself for missing it. Sometimes someone plays you tracks by their band when you’re incredibly drunk in the afternoon and you sober up the next day and can’t get them out of your head. Two Houses was that for me.

When I like something I tend not to shut up about it and ‘Disappointer’ was something I knew I wasn’t going to turn off anytime soon when I heard it again sober. You put three extremely talented musicians together and you get something that’s 90’s garage punk meets the current emo revival but is super upbeat with these sort of folky punk vocals. It is currently the best EP I’ve heard all year.

Chicago seems to be good at everyone in a million bands. One of my favourite midwest Emo bands Dowsing are based in Chicago and are no exception to this rule. The Please and Thank Yous ( have just had a new album out that has a whole indie/grunge/emo vibe going on, and have ex-Dowsing drummer Marcus Nuccio as part of their line up. Dude is killer on drums, and a joy to take photos of!

Marcus is also part of the super trio Pet Symmetry ( who combine Evan (IIOI) and Eric (Dowsing) to form a perfect slice of indie pop-punk that will always have you dancing. I’m always awaiting new material from this band, they keep getting better and better. This leads us on to Eric’s other band Kittyhawk ( which is all twinkly indie emo, another band that were made for summer. We are spanning a lot of genres here. I told you Chicago was brilliant.

I’m gonna chuck a good word in for Warren Franklin and the Founding Fathers ( here, though technically Warren isn’t in Chicago. Warren Franklin and Anthony Chambers once wrote a song that broke my heart ( and has the greatest vocal change ever. Warren’s full band outfit play fun songs that I assume are sad. I love when bands make sad songs that you can dance to.

Anthony is in his own awesome band The Island of Misfit Toys ( which is just massively eclectic and ranges from him doing spoken work, some rather fancy synths and Siamese is all about his relationship with his friend. I like things that are just good lyrically and both of these bands have that it abundance.

I think I may have to stop myself here, I could go on and on really if you let me. This is just a small selection of what I have seen and continue to see come out from Chicago. It’s only natural that a city with that much history, where bands like Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms, Fall Out Boy, Rise Against and so many more started off, is home to an awesome and exciting punk scene.

It spans every sub-genre of punk and from house shows, small venues, big venues to festivals, there is always something going on. It’s a punk scene that never sleeps. I love it when I’m there, I’m constantly excited by new bands and how absolutely lovely and friendly everyone there is and I can’t wait to move and be a part of it.