The 11th annual Bash on Wabash kicks off in the South Loop this Saturday, and unlike most of its street-fest compatriots, the entertainment is 100% local. Which means, in addition to Zumba workshops from the Daystar Center, demos by South Loop BMX, and rounds of P.I.G. with the DePaul Blue Devils, you can enjoy a number of Chicago's lesser-known bands. Here are four you should check out.
While American rock music might not need another group of mope-prone 80s revivalists, there's plenty of room for bands like California Wives, who trade the genre's extended synth breaks and moaned vocals for a sharp pop sense and danceable hooks—an effect not unlike Morrissey's sunnier tracks. Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Get ready for this one: Mar Caribe, whose name translates to "Caribbean Sea," is a brass- and banjo-heavy septet who play "covers of movie themes, classical pieces, 60s ballads, surf, and cowboy songs"—a combo as utterly fun as it is utterly weird. Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Martin Van Ruin
Birthed last year by folk singer Derek Nelson (formerly of Derek Nelson and the Musicians) with members of Planetsexploder ("Midwestern dad-sludge") and Jenny Dragon ("roots and Americana"), this earthy septet boasts all the anthemic beauty of folk rock with none of the Depression-era costumes. Sunday at 6:15 p.m.
This self-described "band of scoundrels and hooligans" are leading a new generation of local funk and soul nuts (they call it "rock-n-soul"), and go heavy on the Chicago pride. The band has collaborated with hometown heroes ranging from Twista to Chance the Rapper to the Chicago Children's Choir, so there's no telling who might pop on stage during their set Saturday evening. Saturday at 6:45 p.m.
Bash on Wabash runs from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at Wabash & 14th. $5 donation. More info at bashonwabash.org.