Artists bring punk, rap to House

By Carl Nadig

A showcase of young musicians of different genres expressed their artistic views Friday at The House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.

The evening slowly began with people sitting in their seats as Propeller, a newly formed indie and rock n’ roll collaboration of college classmates, started the show. The band formed earlier this year as a Guided By Voices tribute act. But after a few performances, the band’s members decided to create their own original music.

“We write about what we know — life in DeKalb and life in a college town,” said Propeller bassist Sam Hawkins. “We know about hanging out and trying to get girls, that kind of thing … . One day, we’ll listen to a Black Flag record and the next day we’ll all listen to Uncle Tupelo or early Rolling Stones. We take what we listen to and make it into our own.”

While Propeller hasn’t released an album or EP, other bands played their own albums at the cafe, such as Alone At Heart. The hardcore band played all of its songs from “Come Home,” a concept album that addresses melancholic issues like loneliness, addiction and suicide. The album also features inspirational figures and family members in its lyrics.

“I wrote a song about my mother because she’s been the only constant in my life,” said Riley Shepard, Alone At Heart vocalist. “She’s just the most important person to me. She’s a giant influence in everything I do, and she’s the only reason I even care about myself because if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t.”

After Shepard’s last song, the screamo vocalist dove into a moshing crowd.

The audience didn’t have to wait long before the amplifers were removed from the stage for Sean Wilcox, 21, of Sycamore as the concert’s headliner. The rapper, who performs as NeverclearX, performed from his original mixtape, “Aqua,” which some listeners might find provocative.

“I tend to do a mix of stuff that people don’t typically want to talk about,” Wilcox said. “In one of my songs, I actually talk about the Boston Marathon [bombing] and [the] Columbine [school shooting]. Some people don’t like that, but it’s seeing how far you can push them before somebody pushes back … . It’s more of a way to say anyone could snap at any moment. That’s my message.”

Wilcox performed songs from his music label, Krazy Boy Productions. The hip-hop artist used beats from artists, such as A$AP ROCKY, for rapping original lyrics to the tempo of mainstream beats.