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updated: 7/13/2013 6:41 PM

Songs from a scene: The evolution of LBC

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  • Lucky Boys Confusion regroups for a hot summer show headlining Taste of River North Friday, July 19.

    Lucky Boys Confusion regroups for a hot summer show headlining Taste of River North Friday, July 19.


Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me in the last 15 years knows I have a special place in my heart for Lucky Boys Confusion.

I graduated from college and started at the Daily Herald around the same time they banded together. You couldn't listen to Q101 without hearing the ska-heavy "Dumb Pop Song" (hey, it was the late '90s!), but who was this band? As their music began to gain traction, we soon-to-be-faithful began seeking an education on just who these guys were.

Mine came from a story we ran in the paper, previewing a Naperville Exchange Club's Ribfest performance, I think.

As these DuPage natives continued to play together, they also played a larger and larger role in the playlists of my formative music years. I owned all their albums. I obsessively blasted them in the car during top-down days in the Jeep. I shared them with all my friends. Over and over again.

So, of course I was excited to see that Lucky Boys Confusion was doing a show in Chicago this summer. In a few weeks, no less.

Their songs about the angst of growing up and the appeal of a good night out struck a chord with a guy in his early 20s who wasn't quite sure where his life was heading. And the songs jumped genres with ease, some heavy with ska brass, some tinged with a Latin or reggae beat, many bringing a hip-hop vibe to the mix.

Plus the guys -- Stubhy Pandav, Ryan Fergus, Adam Krier, Jason Schultejann and Joe Sell -- all hailed from the Downers Grove and Naperville areas, which made the band that much more appealing: We could see them whenever we wanted.

Then things got busy. The band was touring, so local shows grew more sporadic. And when they were in town, I wasn't able to go for one reason or another.

The guys were going through some direction changes, too. They were moving away from their college radio faves and toning down the ska influence of earlier hits while taking up the heavier rock mantle with a side order of punk.

Side projects began to occupy more and more of their time. Shock Stars and The Insecurities came and went. Krier, who tackled vocals and guitar for LBC, and bassist Schultejann joined forces with Logan Square drummer Chris Smith and Luke Schmitt to form AM Taxi. The band released two EPs and an LP -- "We Don't Stand a Chance" -- before parting ways with Virgin Records. In the meantime, LBC lead vocalist Stubhy dove into Super Happy Fun Club, along with Brad Chagdes of Logan Square; Phil Kosch of Treaty of Paris; and Pat Gilroy, Jeremy Galanes and Chris Mason, all of The Waiting Game.

Both bands are really starting to ascend the ranks. Just this past weekend, AM Taxi opened for Bad Religion while Super Happy Fun Club supported Jimmy Eat World, both at Summerfest in Milwaukee, a fest renowned for its musical draws. And both have some big festival shows coming up in Chicago in the next few weeks.

But LBC hasn't gone away. Hard-core fans (like me) remain rabid, albeit maybe a bit grayer now, and a new generation is digging into the past to find albums as old as they are. The death last year of Joe Sell, LBC founding member and guitarist, drew scores to his funeral and packed two memorial shows in October. And tickets for the too-few and too-far-between shows go quickly.

While I haven't had the opportunity to catch their live shows in some time now, the ones I have seen remain among my favorites. They've been consistently energetic and fun, shows I couldn't enjoy without getting on my feet and moving. And when an LBC song comes up on shuffle, it still brings a smile. Even when I'm on the treadmill, so that's saying something.

Brian Shamie is a Daily Herald copy editor who still listens to his music too darn loud. He writes about the summer festival scene every Friday.

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