“We call it Peoria North,” says Basil, waving his hands towards the stratosphere outside of Chicago’s north-side saloon, Silvies. Basil is one of about two hundred fans who have spent a Saturday night hooting to the sound of Peoria-based classic rockers Waterstreet.

Basic admits that, although Peoria is a great place to raise a family, it’s not exactly a great place to promote a rock band. Since college, many young Peorians have migrated to Chicago’s more trendy neighborhoods.

“Have you been there?” asks Basil, holding a sudsy glass of what’s on tap.

I tried to avoid directly looking him in the eyes. Yes, I have been to Peoria, long ago, and simply remember some silos, some meditative cows and maybe a stretch of commerce that would now be called a “strip mall,” but back then would be operated by one of several hopeful entrepreneurs eager to provide a service that would keep the young locals stuck in time.

Still, I don’t want to give the impression that those of us who are city-raised have any right to pull rank. Also, I know that these four guys have parents who raised them on rock’n’roll and classic rock and so I don’t feel they suffered greatly in the sticks.

Waterstreet is a young ambitious band. Two of the members attended Berklee College where, according to Basil, one of the professors finally told the guys to just get out of college already, because there’s nothing else to teach them.

Basil pointed out a young man talking to a group of friends.

“I went to high school with his brother,” he said. Everyone seemed to know everyone who knew someone else who knew someone else. Waterstreet tends to bring people together in this boomerang fashion.

The set included some surprises. One of the lead guitarists, Joe Shadid, sang a tearful ballad called ‘Glass Bones.’ I had heard Waterstreet in October and hadn’t heard Joe at the mic before. Most vocals are done by Evan Hand, the curly-blonde haired, frontman with infectious pouting lips. His pout is not as menacing as that of Mick Jagger, but Evan is still in his twenties. A Jagger-like pout requires years of hard liquor and fast cars. Being in his twenties and living in Peoria, Hand has a ways to go.

Hand’s voice can fluxuate between smooth glass and bratty charm. Shadid’s voice is more dark and wistfully sombre. But, the song was so memorable that Basil and I had to find out the title.

“I’m nobody,” joked another fan. He had been pointed out as the one in charge of distributing the complementary CDs. He didn’t know where the rest of the CDs were and clearly wasn’t the guy in charge. But, he was a hell of a nice guy. Waterstreet does much of their own promotion, although their fans do a great job of talking them up as well.

Rob Gould plays drums and I get exhausted just looking at the guy. But, I like that energy and the band has lots of it. Shadid and Hand play several lengthy solos, many of which seriously recall Jimmy Page guitar work and Mike Crusen, the bassist, can nail classic rock basslines to a tee.

A lot of the lyrics are about romance as expected;bitter love, young love, hot girls, womanly-girls that want to be treated like queens and girls cloned by the devil. The band whips through constant chord and tempo changes. There are a few moments of pop and innocent 60s nods where you could swear you’re witnessing the Kinks. There are a few moments of jangly, folk guitar that offsets some of the classic rock, but the energy doesn’t wane. Some neon-blue strobes spin around the ceiling adding some icing.

These musicians grew up together and started in coffee houses, honing acoustic sets, while testing the suburban waters, even if it meant competing with the sonar influence of expensive coffee grinders and rush-hour requests for Italian espressos.

Waterstreet is constantly in motion. Their bodies move in uneven angular fashion like metronomes with missing settings. Hand reminds the audience that they’ll be hearing some of their new tunes tonight and the crowd gathers more closely to the stage. The acoustics are stellar and, even the dart throwers in the ante-room, can hear loud and clear.

The band plays one powerful encore and then, as it’s near closing, it’s time to wrap. There’s a lot of reminiscing and manly handshakes as the group greets old friends. Some will head home minutes away to Peoria North and some will face the gridlock of urban to rural traffic. The meditative cows and silos and probably, by this time, big box stores, will line their path. Maybe next time, they’ll all come around again, and I’ll find the guy in charge.









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Commenting On: Silvies, Chicago, 20/2/2010 - Waterstreet








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19113 Posted By: Joseph Hogan (Rock Island, IL, USA)

This writer really was perceptive enough to capture the essence of who these guys are...thanks so much.


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