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We Weren’t Invited deal Chicago’s punks a handful of wild cards

Earlier this year I found a live YouTube clip of Chicago punk band We Weren’t Invited made last fall by local music site the Humming Byrd. They’re performing “A Fly on the Wall (Nobody Is Home)” from their EP Flesh Vehicle, Pt. 2, self-released in January. We Weren’t Invited play hardcore, more or less, but they channel their aggression in perverse directions—including arty affectations, proggy changes, and long tangents that most of their peers don’t have patience for. I’ve revisited that Humming Byrd clip over and over because it conveys the adrenalized joy of a certain kind of concert: a young, casually iconoclastic rock band, standing nose-to-nose with their fans in a small, packed venue, find their way toward the germ of a melody for a minute and a half, then draw up short and suddenly unload a crunchy, distorted blast that feels colossal even through shitty laptop speakers. The pandemic has made me anxious about the thought of being in a crowd like that, but We Weren’t Invited have done a lot to remind me of what I’m missing.

The five-piece formed in 2021, and they’ve released three EPs and a couple singles. We Weren’t Invited debuted with what’s since become their most popular song on Spotify, “Me + U = Heaven,” a melodramatic, rawboned acoustic ballad—hugely different from the material on Flesh Vehicle, Pt. 2, where the melodrama comes from florid arrangements rather than desperate-sounding lyrics. On “Sorry 2 Piss on Your Pity Party,” for instance, guitarists Isaac Rodriquez and Michael Locascio punch up the loopy, gear-shifting funk metal with wizardly thrift-store riffs that recall late-80s Sub Pop seven-inches. The wild-man screams of vocalist Johnny Wynne belong to the world of hardcore, and the group’s intensity would make them a good fit for the gnarliest ChiTown Futbol lineup—but their songwriting takes them somewhere else entirely. I’m not sure where they’re headed, but their creativity will be a boon to whatever scene eventually claims them.

We Weren’t Invited Hostages, Sarin, Bound, and Bird Law open. Fri 3/17, 7 PM, Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland, $14.84, 17+

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