• Cherry Popper

Dastardly Does Good

written by: on May 9, 2012

Just like a heart-warming, mind-altering bottle of whiskey (with a dash of hot sauce and a whole lot of love thrown in), the country-folk tunes of Chicago band Dastardly are a sure-fire recipe for a rollicking good time. Although the band’s music sounds like it was born in the honky-tonk jukebox of an old Western saloon, its self-deprecating lyrics tell a different story: that of a modern-day urbanite going through a particularly rowdy quarter-life crisis.

Dastardly may not be your grandma’s slice of Americana, but the young folks are gobbling it up. With more than 5,400 “likes” on Facebook, a No. 8 slot on Red Eye’s “Top 15 Bands to Watch in 2012” list, two catchy albums streaming on Spotify (2011’s May You Never… and 2012’s Bury Me in the Country) and an ambitious tour planned for this summer, this charming band of upstarts shows no signs of slowing down.

Frontman Gabe Liebowitz, 24, formed his “dastardly” troupe under the influence of Townes Van Zandt, Hank Williams, Dirty Projectors and Kermit the Frog. His description of the band’s sound as “the foundations of American folk music filtered through avante garde and Muppets” couldn’t be a more perfect fit for this inspired, unique and endearingly wacky quintet.

Lead singer/guitarist Liebowitz had previously played in a punk-rock outfit with Andy Taylor (drums), found Joe Rauen (banjo, guitar, reeds) and August Sheehy (bass, vocals) by placing ads for bandmates on Craigslist, and serendipitously discovered Sarah Morgan (accordian, vocals, percussion) at a college party. Since its formation, the band has played several popular music venues in Chicago (including a Bury Me in the Country CD release show in January at Lincoln Hall) and has traveled to numerous other states in the South, Midwest and along the East Coast (with Providence, R.I., New York and Boston drawing the biggest crowds).

This multi-talented group also has a flair for comedy.

In October 2011, they performed a wildly successful sketch/variety show at the Hideout (Dastardly Presents: Catastrophe) that Liebowitz hopes to bring back for an encore in October. Except this time around, he wants to lampoon patriotism (possible show title: “Dastardly Presents: ‘Murka”).

In keeping with the raucous spirit that unites and ignites them, the members of Dastardly are an appealing bunch of musical misfits with Muppet hearts of gold (unless you believe the accusations of fellow Chicago rabble-rousers The Shams Band). So put on your dancing britches and go see them Thursday at Subterranean for their last show in Chicago before the summer tour kicks off in June. Caution: foot-stomping, hee-hawing and a merry assortment of whiskey-soaked memories will most likely occur.

A stop-motion music video for Dastardly’s “Fever” from Bury Me in the Country was shot, edited and directed by Logan Hall.

Dastardly will headline Subterranean at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 10, with The Shams Band and The Dirty Feathers. Tickets are available here.

Dastardly Summer Tour: June 8-17th (including a show headlining the Mercury Lounge in NYC on Saturday, June 16th!) For more info, check out the band’s tumblr.