Music: it’s as subjective as the crust you prefer on your pizza, sexual fetishes and political parties. You cannot deny, however, that when a band garners the respect of someone who sees new bands night after night, there’s something to their purported magic. Robert Gomez, owner of lounge and live music venue Subterranean, agrees that these up-and-comers who passed through his club more than a few times in 2014 are on a short list of those to watch. Gomez and the talent-buying team at SubT and Beat Kitchen put their heads and ears together to choose these excellent contenders.

Twin Peaks

Critically acclaimed garage-rockers Twin Peaks are quickly rising to the top of the Chicago music scene after a stellar performance at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival. In 2014, the band was named ‘Band To Watch’ by the well-respected music blog Stereogum, and ‘Most Promising Band’ by NME. Twin Peaks’ musicians include Connor Brodner, Jack Dolan, Clay Frankel and Cadien Lake James.

Real Friends

One of the fastest emerging bands of the pop punk scene, Real Friends was named one of Alternative Press Magazine‘s ‘Most Anticipated Bands of 2014.’ The band has toured extensively the past year, selling out venues all over the country and claiming a spot as a featured act on Warped Tour. In December, the group will headline The Metro. The debut album from Real Friends, “Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing,” is out now on Fearless Records.

The Orwells

Elmhurst natives The Orwells sent shockwaves through the music world after a bombastic performance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The performance served as a breakout moment for the band as they played “The Righteous One” from their lauded album “Disgraceland,” which was released in June of 2014. The album earned praise from NME, Pitchfork, NPR, Rolling Stone and Spin Magazine, among other in-the-know music publications. In September, the band was a featured act at Riot Fest.

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The Main Squeeze

An eclectic funk and jam band from Chicago by way of Bloomington, Indiana, The Main Squeeze has been drawing capacity crowds all around Chicago with its energetic rhythms and smooth-as-silk vocals. During 2014, the band played several high-profile music festivals, including Bonnaroo, Summer Camp, Equifunk, Bear Creek and Glowfest. The band recently recorded a cover series in New Orleans, reinterpreting the tunes of Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, The Temptations and others.


Chicago doom-metal act Bongripper had a busy year. Their LP, the aptly titled “Miserable,” has been well received by critics and fans alike. In 2014, the band toured the United States and the UK, appearing at the Scorched Tundra Festival in Sweden, Southern Darkness Festival (Tampa) and Maryland Deathfest. The band recently announced their addition to the Netherlands Roadburn festival in April of 2015. Cleverly titled Bongripper tunes include “Hate Ashberry,” “The Great Barrier Reefer” and “Zero Talent.”

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Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at