Credit: Kirsten Miccoli

Dread can be suffocating, but Ganser make it work like a spark. On their new EP, Nothing You Do Matters (Felte), the Chicago postpunk four-piece take cues from dance punk for their end-of-the-world party music—they’re trying to build something worth living for in a hellscape that constantly finds boring new ways to make everyone feel disposable and empty. Ganser understand that there’s little we can do as individuals to change the trajectory of our historical moment, but they’re also aware that beyond the grimness of futility and despair there’s the option of simply getting off the bus—“People Watching” and “What Me Worry?” encompass both these emotional poles, but they also make it clear we can find some semblance of liberty by setting our own terms. On the chorus of “What Me Worry?,” bassist-vocalist Alicia Gaines honors her own agency by insisting that the path in front of her is still uncharted; as her elongated bellow stretches out against a wall of guitars fit for TV on the Radio, every syllable says her choices are hers to make. At least some of Ganser’s choices seem to be working; their breakthrough 2020 album, Just Look at That Sky, established them as one of the best rock bands in town, no easy feat considering the pandemic made it difficult to hear those songs in person. There’s a lot of rottenness in the world, but Nothing You Do Matters makes me thankful we’ve still got Ganser.

Ganser Otoboke Beaver headline. Sun 10/9, 8:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, remaining tickets available only at the door, 21+