Bay Faction blend emo and synth pop on Florida Guilt | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Bay Faction blend emo and synth pop on Florida Guilt 

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click to enlarge Bay Faction

Bay Faction

Sam Colby

Bay Faction are a band with roots in cyberspace. In 2013, lead singer James McDermott was studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston when he posted a call for bandmates on a Facebook page for local musicians. The only replies came from two fellow Berklee students, bassist Kris Roman and drummer Connor Godfrey (later replaced in Bay Faction by drummer and producer Alex Agresti). The band found a pocket of success among fans of east-coast emo (especially in the r/emo subreddit) for their 2014 self-titled debut EP, which has a sound akin to contemporaries such as Modern Baseball and Glocca Morra. By their second album, last year’s Florida Guilt, Bay Faction began to reinvent themselves, pulling their early songs off streaming sites (though you can still find some on YouTube) and tinkering with a new indie-pop sound. Shortly after they released the record, McDermott came out as bisexual, and throughout the album he explores his lived experience through lyrics that address sexuality, youth, and self-image: on “Sopping” he sings, “I’m quiet, not cute when I laugh / Forbid I’m recognized for that.” Florida Guilt oscillates between Bay Faction’s recent poppy sound and their more methodical, bass-heavy beginnings; “$1k” relies on a quick tempo, synths, and electronic chimes, in contrast to the title track, which at times is anchored only by McDermott’s self-deprecating, lackadaisical drawl. This show is Bay Faction’s second in Chicago this year, and they’re on a solidly indie-rock bill with local groups Girl K and Mt. Pocono—but since the band are prone to changing things up, next time around they might come back with a completely different sound.   v

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