Promo photos of Hi Fi & the Roadburners spanning roughly 1986 to 2006. The top photo is the most recent, and includes both late members memorialized by the Bring It Up High Festival: left to right, Hans Kish, Brian Lueck, Aaron Getsug, Tony Bryan, Jeff Schuch, and Erik "Hi Fi" Kish. Credit: Photos courtesy the artist; collage by Amber Huff

Hi Fi & the Roadburners were among Chicago’s most ferocious live acts for more than 25 years, melding rockabilly, gutbucket R&B, and punk rock into blue–collar anthems that landed them on the Victory Records roster during the label’s 1990s heyday. Lead guitarist Jeff Schuch passed away in 2009, and singer Erik “Hi Fi” Kish died in 2011 after a motorcycle crash, which ended the Roadburners’ recording career. Every November since Kish’s death (with a pandemic exception), surviving members have celebrated the band’s legacy by reuniting onstage for their Bring It Up High Festival—and along the way they’ve raised more than $25,000 for various charities. According to saxophonist Tony Bryan, this year’s iteration, held at Beat Kitchen on Saturday, November 20, will be the last, with proceeds to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Friends of Chicago Animal Care and Control, and the Chicago Independent Venue League. Soulful crooner Gerald McClendon headlines; the Roadburners are main support, with openers the What For? (a new garage-rock trio with bassist-singer Bailey Dee, guitarist Bill Pekara, and drummer Patrick Morrow) and Tracer Bullet. 

Nnamdï has earned a little rest. Last year the Chicago musical polymath dropped two albums (the ecstatic pop of Brat and the symphonic cartoons of Krazy Karl) and the knockout punk EP Black Plight. He also hit the road with Sleater-Kinney and Wilco, despite breaking his wrist at the start of the tour—Kaina Castillo set up a GoFundMe to pay for his surgery that raised more than $23,000 in a day. But if Nnamdï is resting, then his downtime is more productive than most folks’ regular days. On Friday, November 12, Sooper Records releases the Nnamdï EP Are You Happy. It’s his first release he hasn’t produced—the EP’s eclectic electronic instrumentals are by Conor Mackey (aka Lynyn), who plays with Nnamdï in Monobody.

“Backseat” is the lead single from the new Nnamdï EP, Are You Happy.


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