The members who make up Chicago-bred band Kids These Days hail from every corner of the music spectrum and varying neighborhoods of Chicago, but their collective sound creates a hybrid genre influenced by equal parts jazz, funk, blues, soul and hip-hop. With three horns, a rapper, a blues rock trio, and a female singer packing a voice with gusto way beyond her years, the Kids simultaneously represent a golden era in music and an exciting prospect of the future. Their EP, "Hard Times," has reigned in fans from as far as Europe, but their most undeniable strength lies in the contagious energy at their live shows.
Kids These Days includes Vic Mensa on rap vocals, Macie Stewart on lead and background vocals, Liam Cunningham on guitar and lead vocals, Lane Beckstrom on bass, Greg Landfair on drums, Nico Segal on trumpet, J.P. Floyd on trombone, and Rajiv Halim on saxophone. Subtracting even a single member of the group would detract from the overall sound, which seamlessly fuses together to be at once smooth, elevating and refreshingly modern.
The group poured their creative and musical juices into the same Kool-Aid pitcher at the ripe young age of 15, when they met through a magnet school in their hometown. Even videos of their earliest work, which consists mostly of covers is anything but talent show-like quality, and instead offers a glimpse of the monstrous talent contained within this 8-member band. In its firsts two years, the band played remixed but personalized covers such as a rewind-worthy eight-minute rendition of Common's "Be" mixed with Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia," and James Brown's "Man's World" mixed with the sultry Billie Holiday classic "Summertime." After beating out 150 other Chicago bands of all-ages to win first place in the Congress Theater's Next Big Thing battle of the bands in November of 2009, Kids These Days had officially begun their journey.
Performing to packed houses at Chicago-area clubs like Reggie's, Hideout and Subterranean since then, Chicago quickly took notice of the barely-legal teens with a dangerously potent mixture of raw talent and genuine passion for music. They have shared the stage with noted hip-hop artists Rhymefest, the Cool Kids, Mic Terror, and Dom Kennedy, and proved they knew how to bring a mainstream, relatable appeal to every kind of audience.
After gaining almost instant local acclaim, the Kids began to compose their own music, spawned from the mistakes made during rehearsals and late night freestyle riffs. Since then, word of their music has gone global. With close to 8,000 fans on Facebook and a smashing debut at SXSW, Kids These Days have the industry talking and the internet buzzing, with new fans and seasoned fans alike frequently requesting digital releases, more music videos and hometown concerts.
"Darling," one of the group's catchiest singles, is not only proof that KTD get better with every release, but also shows a more focused sound, as if they are finally settling into their hybrid brand of music, which becomes easily recognizable with each release of original material. The video spotlights the strengths of each member. The video plays out with a flirtatious unfolding sequence, and rapper Vic Mensa flows to a audience of teens, flickering lights and a smooth tempo provided in big part by Greg on the drums and Lane on the bass.
Authenticity builds on itself, and Kids These Days can claim a degree of it that has become a rarity in today's over-produced musical atmosphere. Their youth supplies them with an unabashed, raw attitude towards performing and creating that is fueled by an appreciation of music in its truest form. They crowd surf. They freestyle. They dance. They're Kids. But their sound will blow you away.