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The Big Takeover Issue #93
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Friko with Smut -Cabaret Metro (Chicago) - March 1st, 2024

2 March 2024

For a very strong night of local Chicago music, showing off our best talented bands, both Friko and Smut treated their fans to very engaging sets. Friko certainly pulled out all the stops headlining Cabaret Metro to celebrate their new spectacular release, Where we’ve been, Where we go from here. The stage was adorned with regal rugs, an arm chair and lamps like a living room with a huge backdrop for the band. However, the desperate urgency they played with wasn’t the type to enjoy passively from your armchair at home as much as it was to feel your body flow with it. The pedal effects alone were impressive and added to the emotional intensity of the tracks. These songs became heartfelt anthems for a packed crowd believing in the power of music and grateful for the experience.

Lead singer of Friko, Niko Kapetan, sings every lyric as if it was his final declaration on this Earth. It’s tremendously effective in conveying a dramatic sense of genuine existence with both a longing and a guttural cry. One can’t but help stop in their tracks just to listen. Though technically a two piece with drummer, Bailey Minzenberger , they went all out with an added bassist as well as violinist/ guitarist and cellist depending on the song. “For Ella” was especially poignant with this accompaniment. Minzenberger showed a tremendous versatility in her drumming throughout the set and also added vocals while drumming at times.

Towards the end of their set, Kapetan talked about how they have been part of the music scene in Chicago for 3 to 4 years and this felt like a surreal experience but Friko already play with accomplishment and deserve to headline large music venues across this country! In songs like “Cardinal,” Kapetan’s vocals leapt to such a gorgeous height that recalled even the late great Jeff Buckley.

We really didn’t think we’d be so lucky to get another song especially with an all ages curfew but as an encore Friko treated us to an inspired cover of Radiohead’s Weird Fishes with two violinists and a cello ! “Get Numb to it” was the second and final encore song. Friko ended the night with a shared and memorable moment as all of the musicians the whole night through joined them to dance along on stage, making that collective experience feel even more joyous.

Lead singer Tay Roebuck of five piece Chicago band Smut has such a soft and soothing voice that you could easily get lost in the lullaby quality of it. At the same time, it can go from dreamy to packing a punch and the strong backing guitar, bass, and drums made for striking rifts at times reminiscent of 90s indie rock. Roebuck seemed in her element and very comfortable on stage even when singing new songs. Their short but catchy 30 minute set had no dull moments and ended with Roebuck belting lyrics passionately into her microphone in a more riot girl like fashion.

Both bands are headed to SXSW so if you’ll be attending, be sure to check them out and you won’t be disappointed!