Winners of a nationwide Battle of the Band competition, Chicago-based The Lauren Wolf Band headlines at House of Blues.
The Lauren wolf band
◆ 6 p.m. Thursday
◆ House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn
◆ Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door
◆ (312) 923-2000, www.hob.com/chicago
Updated: January 27, 2013 6:16AM
The chances for local music fans to hear the Lauren Wolf Band as one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets may be nearing an end.
The quartet, which trades equal measures of rhythm and blues with rock and roll, has booked a pivotal show. After besting more than a hundred acts in a nationwide Battle of the Bands backed by Live Nation and Mamba fruit chews, Wolf and company take the stage at the House of Blues Thursday.
The candy-sponsored victory was made even sweeter by turbulence encountered during the process. Due to a technicality in online polling rules, the band had to abandon its campaign behind percolating soul-rock single “You Are” halfway through the month-long contest period.
“When we came back, we had to ask our fans to start over from scratch,” says Wolf. “It turned into The Little Engine that Could,” says guitarist Patrick Dugan. “For a while, it was a day to day, hour to hour battle.”
Furthermore, rules prevented the band from using the same song to reclaim votes. “We actually used our song ‘Bounce Back,’ ” says Wolf, noting the subtle coincidence.
Thanks to grassroots support, the Lauren Wolf Band bounced back and ultimately won by a landslide.
Wolf’s rough-hewn style is reminiscent of ’70s icons including Janis Joplin, rootsy ’80s artists such as Lone Justice, and modern fare like Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
“I’m crazy about Janis Joplin,” says Wolf. “If she were still alive, they’d have to keep me away from her.”
Childhood favorites included FM-rock titans like Earth Wind and Fire, the Rolling Stones and Heart. “I remember trying to emulate ‘Alone’ as a kid,” says Wolf.
Though released in 2010, the group’s debut album “All My Secrets” is gaining fresh notice with a video for the powerful “One Day.”
“The song came from an e-mail I had written to an ex of mine,” says Wolf.
Although the sound of “One Day” is worlds apart from disco-pop, the song’s message of empowering inner strength following emotional adversity echoes Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
In addition to original songs, the band is acclaimed for its interpretations of a broad range of material. The group’s performances bristle with the grit of Wolf’s full-throated vocals and Dugan’s electrifying guitar licks on riff-rockers like Joplin’s tough and soulful “Move Over.” “Crazy” finds the band reinventing the more recent Gnarls Barkley hit. “We’re not limited to the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s,” says Dugan. “The endgame is connecting to the audience.”
The band intends to introduce new material at House of Blues, including “The Night the Sound Went Out.” Dugan describes the song as a cautionary tale about someone in the band’s inner circle who suffered permanent hearing damage at a Lauren Wolf Band show. “I think she stood too close to a speaker, and just got annihilated.”
Wolf is excited about the song for multiple reasons. For one thing, she says, “Patrick and I now have our first vocal duet.”
The other reason is a surprise.
“People should come to the show and see it. We have a twist at the end.”
With ample momentum, the Lauren Wolf Band’s first priority is celebrating a hard-won triumph alongside supporters at next week’s concert.
“It’ll be our biggest show to date. “It’s lucky for House of Blues and Live Nation that a local band won,” says Wolf with a laugh. “They didn’t have to pay for any plane tickets.”
Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer