What happens when a hot local band goes out for a night on the town with a reporter: they drink a few beers, shoot some pool-and do nothing even remotely stupid
|The Redwalls at Lennox Lounge: (from left) lead singer Logan Baren, guitarist Andrew Langer, bassist Justin Baren, and drummer Ben Greeno|
We meet at the Lennox Lounge, a quiet, nondescript martini bar, hardly the kind of place where you would do a line of coke off a stripper’s chest, or whatever it is I have always imagined rock stars do when they go out. Around 10:30, The Redwalls-Logan, Justin, Andrew, and Ben-wander in, and everything about them screams one thing: we’re in a band. All skinny ties, vests, tight pants, and blazers, they might as well be in 1964 Swinging London, killing time before a Kinks show at The Marquee-not hanging out in Lake View on a Tuesday. With me.
They squeeze into a booth and commence smoking; Budweisers appear. Beneath the swagger, it turns out, they’re four nice boys (all between 21 and 23) from Deerfield, psyched to be in a band-a band that’s about to go to Sweden to record its next LP with the producer that put Franz Ferdinand on the map. For two hours, no visible debauchery occurs. To my chagrin, they’re too savvy to do anything stupid in front of me. The conversation veers from Telemundo to childbirth to the drawbacks of playing in front of 70,000 people, as they did on a recent tour with Oasis. “Their fans threw urine on us,” says Ben, the mop-topped drummer. Lennox’s owner, obviously thrilled to have these guys-whoever they are-in his place, brings over a goat cheese/tomato sauce thing. The band members pick at it for a moment, then go back to their cigarettes.
After a few beers, their manager says he knows a nearby place owned by this eastern European dude where you have to knock on the window. Maybe he’ll let you in. Maybe not. I am secretly thrilled by this: a speakeasy? Our chances of ending the evening knee-deep in Jack Daniel’s and Polish supermodels have just skyrocketed.
The storefront, on a nothing block of Lincoln Avenue, is marked only by a Hamm’s Beer sign. Peering in through the door’s little triangular window, we see a motionless old man sitting on a stool. It takes several knocks before he notices us, and even then he won’t let us in. The band that Billboard said was “headed for greatness” is officially stranded on Lincoln, until a cute female photographer we brought along persuades the man to open the door.
We’ve got the room to ourselves. It’s outfitted with a pool table, a fully stocked bar, and an old country jukebox that needs a Fonzie-like whack to get it playing. We plop onto barstools, are set up with giant Czech beers, and I realize: that this is it. This is our evening. It’s me, two photographers, The Redwalls, and a stooped Croatian named Johnny, sitting in an empty bar listening to Patsy Cline. There are some tequila shots, slurred words and games of pool, a few garbled tales from Johnny about the old country, and that’s all.
Around 2 a.m., everyone decides it’s time to go. The Redwalls, still fairly sober, shake my hand and pile into a cab bound for Wicker Park, where they’re free to do Whatever It Is The Redwalls Do In The Privacy Of Their Homes. Presumably: the things they’re too smart to do in front of journalists.
Photography: Selena Salfen