Walking on stage, clad in leather, it’s hard to anticipate what you’re going to get when you first see The Ex-Senators. Hailing from Chicago, this five piece dances across about four different genre lines and doing so in a way that works extremely well. Usually when bands try to incorporate a litany of sounds into their music it ends out sounding a mess as it’s rarely ever a natural vibe. But The Ex-Senators are one of those rare cases. Sometimes punk, other times early 2000’s rock, and then suddenly funk-soul, they pull off each sound both distinctively and cohesively at the same time. Those may sound like clashing concepts, but with lead singer D-Mac’s textbook definition of a rock voice, working in with the funky riffs of guitarists Van and Phabulous G.J., they’re able to create a sound that comes from every decade of the past 30 years of music. Sure, they have a heavy political message at times, but it’s presented in a way that’s not too over handed while being self-aware. Before their lead single ‘Start a Fight,’ D-Mac teasingly told the audience, “so we’re a bit of a political band,” clearly poking fun at the heavy tones in the song. You won’t find any 5 minute monologues before songs that beat the audience over the head with a certain ideology, unlike a some bands who seemed more concerned with their message than the music, but it still allows for one to take a little something away from it as well. “We want people to think when they listen to our music, it’s about making people have any reaction,” this quote from the band’s bio section on their website really drives home what they’re all about. Whether that reaction is a foot stomping, head banging mosh or an intellectual agreement on their societal commentary, The Ex-Senators seem happy either way.
‘Start a Fight,’ for which a video was just recently released, is an undeniably infectious song from the very first note. The thrashing riff combined with the chorus that just begs to be screamed back at them, makes for a perfect lead single and a good barometer of what the band sounds like at their very best. Though the song pretty much beckons for it, it’s hard not to want to start a revolution after hearing this song explode off the stage in front of you. The similarly themed ‘United Corporations of America’ too captures a classic punk sound but with a modern edge to it. A rowdy, sweaty, burner of a track, it’s very easy to see this song blasting in room filled with moshing punk kids, even if this show was more of a shorter, laid back teaser of what the band is really capable of. Their classic-meets-modern rock sound seems to be making a comeback, with other bands like Titus Andronicus and Gaslight Anthem leading the charge; it’s only a matter of time before Ex-Senators too are a household name on the modern rock scene.