Hazy image of the five members of the Walters in matching white turtlenecks
Credit: Kristina Pedersen

Chicago five-piece the Walters started self-releasing their delightfully light throwback rock in the mid-2010s, and once I heard it, I assumed they wouldn’t take long to break out of the city’s indie scene. They wove plenty of pop hooks and doo-wop melodies into their effervescent, self-aware spin on classic rock, and 2015’s Young Men went over well in a city already hyped on Twin Peaks and other bands updating those old sounds. The Walters made it to Lollapalooza in 2017 before breaking up later that year, and all the members have since decamped to Los Angeles. Four regrouped as Corduroy, and front man Luke Olson formed the Olson Brothers, who signed a management deal with superproducer Rob Cavallo (who ran the boards for Green Day’s Dookie, Jawbreaker’s Dear You, and the Goo Goo Dolls’ Dizzy Up the Girl, among many other projects). According to Walters rhythm guitarist and vocalist MJ Tirabassi, Olson and his former bandmates began chatting about reuniting about a year and a half ago, but those conversations petered out. 

The Walters’ priorities changed, though, after their languorous 2014 single “I Love You So” found an audience on TikTok late this summer. Labels began calling in October, and the Corduroy members reached out to Olson. “He met up with the other guys,” Tirabassi says. “And we kind of forgot what we were mad at each other for.” They reunited and in November signed to Warner Records, which released a new acoustic version of “I Love You So” that month. (The original version has nearly a quarter billion streams on Spotify.) I was taken in by the sun-kissed charm of “I Love You So” when it first came out, but I don’t particularly care to revisit it through the lens of its TikTok boom, a narrative that basically reduces the song to a recruiting tool for a sketchy social-media giant. Still, it’s helped connect the Walters to a support structure that would’ve made it easier for them keep going when they were independent, and Tirabassi says the band should have new material out next year. “We’re adding some production quality to our live show,” he says. “We have some other people playing with us now, and everything should be a juiced-up version of what it used to be.”

The Walters Thu 12/30, 7 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, $20, all ages