Concert Preview: JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound

During the Gapers Block Anniversary party we had the pleasure of taking in the live show of Chicago retro-soul band JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound. The concert was sweaty, swingin’ and soulful. And good thing for you is that they’ll be at it again tonight and Friday. But first…

Let’s get ready for their two Chicago shows at Otto’s tonight and the Hideout tomorrow, via this Q&A with guitarist Bill Bungeroth.

You’ll be enlightened and surprised as Bungeroth explains the band’s “rollerskate approach” to live performance, why he gets inspired during live shows while surveying the body temperature of adoring female fans, why he loves sweaty Fugazi shows, and what JC Brooks does before the show starts.

LF: How have your live shows influenced and inspired the recording of your debut album Beat of Our Own Drum, and your new single, “To Love Someone/Everything Will Be Fine“?

BB: We’ve been playing both songs live in our set for awhile now, so they were definitely influenced by their live versions.

For instance in its original from “To Love Someone” was slower. But our shows don’t have a lot of stopping, so even the ballads have to be pretty danceable to make the set. Even though it’s a ballad we decided the best tempo would be something you could dance or rollerskate to. It’s our roller skate ballad basically. The b side “Everything Will Be Fine,” is such a live staple that we needed it to build into a fever like it does when we play it our set. Which I think we did.

As an artist, what “Little Things” do you look for during a show for real-time insight or inspiration?

Hot girls.

As a fan, what “Little Things” have you noticed during some of your favorite concerts?

Hot girls. Maybe some guys.

What was your first live concert like as an artist and what did you learn from it?

It was the Subterranean in July 2007. We learned that we loved playing together, that we could get the audience to dance, and that we were really serious about becoming this band . We also learned that our first drummer thought our matching white pants were gay and promptly quit in the dressing room after.

If you could play one “dream” venue in the world where would it be and why?

Nuremberg, 1934. We’d stop Hitler, destroy the Nazis, and then rock Germany.

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound

If you could take one element of your favorite concert you experienced as a fan and use it to inspire your own live show, what concert and band would it be and why?

Fugazi at Congress Theater 1999. They were so sweaty and the audience was so sweaty by the end everyone looked inhuman.

What do you love the most about performing live? What elements of modern live performance would you could change if you could?

We love being up there with each other. At the end of the day we’re friends and watching your friends do the things they were meant to do is inspiring.

As far as shows today, we try to bring a more theatrical show to the stage that’s what James Brown did and people have forgotten to do. There has to be something worth watching on stage. Raw emotion channeled into a visual spectacle. It’s why we wear the suits, choose new covers, breakdown our songs, have audience interaction, have dance moves. You paid for a show and to me that’s more than “look how good I am at playing”.

What is something unique about your live performance that fans might not realize or be aware of?

JC Brooks is usually asleep until 5 minutes before the show.

You’ll be playing Otto’s and The Hideout this week, and you’ve played in many other unique venues and settings around Chicago. What do you do to adjust as you play in different venues and for different crowds in various cities?

We constantly adjust and tweak. We try to play diverse sets with an ever rotating set list. Sometimes we add more rock sometimes more soul. But we’d like to think we are just as intense at a big venue as at a campus bar.

Any thing else you’d like to share?

Yeah, if there is a song of ours you like and you don’t think we play it enough just hit us up on Facebook

Thanks again to Bill and the band for taking the time to chat! Check out the  JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound website for more tunes and stuff.

Download: JC Brook’s Beat of Our Own Drum on Beat or  Amazon

Tour Dates:
Thu Oct 28 – Otto’s, Dekalb, IL
Fri Oct 29 – The Hideout, Chicago, IL
Sat Nov 6 – Beat’n’Soul Fest @ Off Broadway, St Louis, MO
Fri Nov 12 – Wilbert’s, Cleveland, OH
Sat Nov 13 – The Blockley, Philadelphia, PA
Fri Nov 19 – Blue Moose Tap, Iowa City, IA
Sat Nov 20 – The Frequency, Madison, WI
Fri Dec 3 – Velvet Lounge, Washington, DC
Sat Dec 4 – Public Assembly, Brooklyn, NY

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