Blacker Face Credit: Sam Callahan

Blacker Face are the kind of band I point to when other people claim there’s a lack of poetry in contemporary punk rock. Equal parts X-Ray Spex and Mr. Bungle, the Chicago group have been working over the past few years toward making a soundtrack for the builders of tomorrow’s movements. “Parade,” off the new Distinctive Juju (out later this month on Sooper Records), is sure to make the cut for my future mixtapes—but whether I’ll include it for its protest message or for its beautiful sound is up in the air. The song has an 80s Lower East Side freedom vibe that’s punctuated with blasts of P.T. Bell’s insistent saxophone and passionate vocals by singer Jolene Whatevr. As she sings “scared about the water,” her bandmates reply “and you should be scared too,” gently nudging the listener to consider the global water crisis for a moment. As Blacker Face confront the issues and institutions behind society’s ills, they remind us that we’re part of the solution too. “Badu,” from their 2017 release Mississippi Goddam, defines the band’s modus operandi over a decent R&B beat: “They get to shakin’ / We make ’em afraid to leave their homes / This divisive language might lead to awkward conversations / Making folks uncomfortable is how change is generated.” This show kicks off Blacker Face’s national tour, dubbed Everything Is Sinking, which they characteristically announced via a poetic Facebook post: “Tour 2019. It’s gonna be long. Hey. Everything is sinking. We’re leaving, most frequently bound for where it’s sinking more quicker.” We’re lucky to have Blacker Face in Chicago; the city desperately needs more musicians who push their own artistic boundaries while inviting audiences to turn passive listening into direct action.   v