The year is 2010. You probably have The Black Keys or Vampire Weekend in heavy rotation, or perhaps Kanye’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” is blaring out of your speakers. It’s a stimulating time for music, with an extensive range of genres all across the board. Somewhere in Canada, a new band is starting to hit the scene, with no regrets.
Alpina Noise is Chicago’s upcoming punk band, that is causing a stir amongst the local scene. It’s no small feat to make a creative project stand out and be noticed in such a powerhouse city of artists. “Its not made for people to love; it’s made for people to think,” explains vocalist and guitarist Will Clayton.
Clayton is the founder and main antagonist of the four piece group. Originally from Canada, he moved across the country a few times, making stops along the East Coast before landing in the Midwest. Despite spending a significant amount of time in New York City, Chicago made a lasting impression on Clayton and has been the home base of Alpina Noise for the past few decades.
The move to Chicago initiated a lineup change, with the replacement and addition of drummer Keith King. There was immediate chemistry, causing the entire transition to be essentially hassle free. This is most likely because its hard to not want to create music with compelling lead guitarist Krystal Flowers. Add Adam Duckworth keeping that steady bass line and you create an electrifying combination of controlled chaos.
Just a few weeks ago, the stars aligned and I was fortunate enough to experience Alpina Noise live at Martyr’s in Chicago. Opening its doors in 1994, Martyr’s has been a staple neighborhood venue. Run by industry veterans, the venue caters to indie music and smaller acts, that bring high energy to the club walls. Needless to say, the place was filled to the brim that night.
Next thing I knew, I found myself crammed in the middle of a crowd full of fans, anxiously awaiting for the show to begin. I’ve been here before too many times to count; the last few moments before your favorite band is about to take the stage. There’s few words that can encompass what this kind of magic feels like. It’s the very reason people keep coming back for more, and from one look around this venue, I can tell this isn’t most of the crowd’s first time seeing Alpina Noise.
The set began with a few original songs that set the tone for what the rest of the night would entail — a dynamic, unique and magnetic experience. About halfway through the set, I thought my ears were deceiving me because I was all of a sudden hearing a song originally by one of the great pioneers of punk — Bad Brains. “Attitude,” is a one minute non-stop explosion track, that is the perfect representation of what kind of band Bad Brains is (and Alpina Noise for that matter too). The creators of the phrase, “positive mental attitude,” or “P.M.A.” for short, Bad Brains paved the way for the punk and hardcore music scene. Any punk band in this scene can trace their influence back to them, whether they realize it or not.
Alpina Noise feels like they are picking up right where Bad Brains left off. The themes of their songs, live style of performance and most importantly, energy align. They do not shy away from current political issues, protest stances and expressing what they believe in. “Don’t be afraid to offend people,” explains Clayton on one of the tracks. Music and cultural issues can create a stir amongst the media, when paired cohesively. Just take a look at Pink Floyd, Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy for example. They created music that represented what they stood for and gained national attention because of their steadfast dedication to raising awareness.
The finale of Alpina Noise’s set was a hypnotizing cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Lead guitarist, Krystal Flowers, captivated the audience and demanded a presence with her rendition of guitar solos. It was full of angst and funk and you could easily see that Flowers is completely comfortable in her own element.
Alpina Noise has a few upcoming shows before the end of the year! They’re headed to New York next month for a Halloween show and plan to finish out the year with a holiday show in Chicago. After this, they’ll be headed straight to the studio to record their new album.