I heard a lot about the glory days of the Fireside Bowl even before I moved to Chicago, and I loved the way the venue brought together bands from disparate subscenes with almost every show. Chicago instrumental trio Rlyr exemplify that freewheeling spirit: in their wondrous thrashing, I can hear the residual effects of growing up seeing grindcore, emo, no wave, and ska all on the same bill (well, maybe not so much the ska). On their new third album, Rlyr (Gilead Media), the group demonstrate that even the tiniest punk and metal subgenres are branches of the same river, and that they can flow back together too. Rlyr’s songs spill emo guitar loops into metal dirges, and parsing them is as pointless as trying to pour the cream out of your coffee. Rlyr’s approach to their instruments sometimes pushes them out of their customary roles in a way that feels similarly fluid: on a tense passage in “Distructure,” for instance, guitarist Trevor de Brauw rattles off a barrage of sharp stabs whose percussive pulse mirrors the chattering hi-hat of drummer Steven Hess. Hess, de Brauw, and bassist Colin DeKuiper are great musicians with enviable resumés—if you need me to tell you about their other bands (which include Locrian, Cleared, Pelican, Chord, Russian Circles, and Bloodiest), then seek them out immediately. But for me, what stands out most about Rlyr is how much fun these guys clearly have playing together. I don’t say this just because “Head Womb” breaks into a pop-punk gallop that reminds me of Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” for a moment. I say it because Rlyr’s heated breakdowns and exultant crescendos make their stylistic hopscotch feel as thrilling as though you’re hearing such leaps for the very first time.
Rlyr, Djunah, Salvation, Fri 5/13, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $10, 21+