The emo-rock band "Real Friends" released their latest record last Friday at a theater in Kingston, a royal borough in southwest London. That's quite a feat for the suburban Chicago band that as recently as 2012 was playing house shows in Bloomington-Normal.
Four years ago, the band posted to Facebook about a house show on Hovey Street in Normal. The group was just one year into their time together, and in many ways, unsure about where they were headed. Torn between roots in hardcore punk and a love for indie rock, the band used house shows like stops in the Twin Cities to try new material and find themselves musically.
Fast forward to 2016, and the group is putting out their second studio album on Fearless Records entitled "The Home Inside My Head." Fearless Records is a household name for emo rock fans, and is often applauded for their ability to allow band creative freedom and simultaneously help them grow. Fittingly so, growth is the name of the game for the latest record for Real Friends.
Emo-Rock often gets bogged down in its own tropes and familiar sounds. Real Friends finds a way, however, to combat this pattern with heartbreaking lyrics on top of triumphant instrumentals, creating an emotional soundscape for the audience. On "Mokena", lyricist and lead singer Dan Lambton confesses "Each mile I drive gets me closer to the streets that made me feel alone/I'm out of place and it doesn't feel wrong." It's that out-of-place experience to which the band has always catered, but glimpses of optimism and gratitude keep the album moving forward.
Not many bands make a climb to the top of their scene as quickly as Real Friends, and it's no accident. Lyrically, the band is light-years ahead of their counterparts, and the familiar limitations of emo rock are surpassed with every note.
An unsigned band playing house shows in Normal turned into an emo rock powerhouse. For Real Friends, 'Home' is where the music is.