DS Show Review & Gallery: Sincere Engineer, Fluorescents, Droughts, and Rodeo Boys (Chicago: 01.14.2023)

Sincere Engineer headlined a sold-out show at Bottom Lounge on Saturday, January 14, 2023. Supporting her on the bill were Fluorescents, Droughts, and Rodeo Boys. It was an electrifying night of music from the top of the bill to the bottom.

This show was a milestone for Sincere Engineer, as Deanna Belos revealed to me:

“It was our first sold-out headliner that wasn’t a record release show. We actually haven’t played too many headliners here [Chicago]. I think a total of four. And two were record releases.”

Though it was sold out because of Belos aka Sincere Engineer, she still seemed taken aback that so many people showed up specifically for her. Throughout her performance, Belos kept repeating “this is crazy,” with what appeared to be a slightly nervous smile on her face. That humility, evident on stage and off, is surely another reason so many have become fans of her and why the merchandise line stretched so far across the venue floor. Belos, manning her own table, took a moment to interact with each person who approached.

This night was likely a standout not just for Belos as she was not the only one to feel the very warm embrace from the crowd. Whilst setting their gear up on stage, Adam Beck, Kyle Geib, and Nick Arvanitis surely could hear the fans shouting out their love for them. Some audience members could be heard loudly requesting the names of the trio.  

Belos’ first song of the set seemed to address the restive feelings right before taking the stage. From Bottle Lightning Twice

I got a brown paper bag

I’m breathing in and out in the back, you see?

And all the people are staring at me

Pull into the station it’s a fever dream

The crowd goes wild while I’m in the ring

Big open spaces, little train car seat

A lightweight tapped out, it seems

But I’ll be okay when I feel the electricity.

Belos’ voice, tinged with a bit of gravel, soared over the crowd. Beck’s muscular drumming in conjunction with Arvanitis’ powerful bass playing combined for a forceful rhythm section. Geib’s potent guitar playing and that of Belos’ completed the very tight quartet.

 The band also drove through “Let You Down,” “1K Rats,” “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7,” and “Dragged Across The Finish Line.”

On this chilly night, Belos lamented, in “Out of Reach,”

I watch the weather on tv.

I watch the green on the screen cover up this stupid fuckin’ city.

And now it’s like you won’t believe.

All the things I want and need

Just seems so fuckin’ out of reach for me.

It was special evening for Belos in another way as her parents were in the audience and her mentioning them prompted cheers from the crowd. Days later, Belos excitedly told me, “It was nice having them there!! They’ve only been to a few of our shows!”

Sincere Engineer was also celebrated in another way. Bottom Lounge added the very popular corn dogs to its menu. However, Belos is not likely to be ordering one for herself. Reminder as to how the convenience food became an important part of her first big hit, Belos told me,

And it was like a time when I moved out of my parents’ house and went grocery shopping on my own for the first time. I bought a box of frozen corn dogs, and they were horrible and sat in the back of the freezer for years lol.”

Following the show, Belos again confirmed her dislike of corn dogs. This was met with raised eyebrows and exclamations of surprise from fellow musicians on the bill, and from fans waiting to meet her. It also prompted a lively discussion of how to make corn dogs more palatable (pour syrup on them was one suggestion) or possible alternative snack-on-a-stick options (Pancake on a stick!). I must also add that while I am a fan of both dogs and corn, I too am not a corn dog fan.

For those lucky enough to score tickets to the show, it left them hungry for more. Belos is in the process of ensuring the fans get it, informing me that,

Up next is recording LP3 in February, Europe tour in May! That’s it’s so far, both have been announced already!!

Sincere Engineer has also been added as a special guest opener for the July 15-22 dates on this year’s Sad Summer Fest.

Chicago’s own Fluorescents came on as bright and animated as its name suggests. This was also, thus far, the biggest crowd, for which the group comprised of Bobby Guidi, Tyler Milka, Sasquel Roby Exum, and Alex Klump, has performed.

The band lit up the stage as they zoomed through “Locked Away,” “Vibe,” “Mood,” “T.A.S.T.,” and “Funeral.”

Fluorescents have cited the pop-punk of the early-aughts as a primary influence, along with the 2010’s easy-core trend. Joining ferocious performances with terrific songs, Fluorescents will surely find itself playing for ever-growing crowds.

Droughts are also from Chicago. They consist of Joe Klomes, Nick Spiese, Will Seals, and Will C. Klomes, the latter of whom expressed his apprehensiveness at speaking in front of crowds due not knowing what to say. But he did better than I suspect he thought he did. The group jammed through “Stay Behind” “Lose Light,” “Cutouts,” “Marionette,” and “Welcome Back.” It was a strong set and hopefully the band will grace more stages this year, at home and elsewhere.

Self-described in its Facebook profile as a “Just a queer as hell four piece rippin’ grunge tunes from Lansing, MI,” Rodeo Boys lit the fuse for a blasting cap of an evening. Tiff Hannay, Cody Lee, Taylor Dody, and Dandy Waltz were clearly having a great time with their music, their fans and each other. The lively and playful set included “Dog Leg,” Be Your Man,” “Pump 6,” “Queen Anne’s Lace,” and “Tidal Wave.” In the month prior to playing at the April 2023 Stoop Fest in its hometown, the band will be heading to a fest in a state famous for rodeos. Rodeo Boys will be featured in the Don Giovanni Records Showcase at SXSW in Austin, Texas on March 16, 2023.

Please see below for more photos from this show!

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