The Subterranean in Chicago is the perfect venue for a Saturday night show. Covered in vintage hardwood and lit by candles, there’s mostly standing room—with a couple of cozy booths on the side—perfect for a smaller, intimate venue.
This past weekend, I took the train down to see Bluphoria, an indie rock band based in Nashville. The set was only fifty minutes, but the energy was electric. From covers to originals—with a quick pause between songs for us audience members to grab our drinks and “Cheers!”—this band turned the small Subterranean into a sea of dancing, drinking, and rockin’.
Who is Bluphoria?
Formed in 2019, Bluphoria began as the passion project of three music-loving University of Oregon students. Their first EP, Alone, was released in 2020. The band continued to play small gigs and release singles on streaming, all of which garnered attention in the indie rock scene. Their self-titled debut album, Bluphoria, was released in May of 2023.
Comprised of lead singer Reign LaFreniere, Dakota Landrum on guitar, Rex Wolf on bass, and the newest addition of Mia Roth on drums. Bluphoria defines their sound as a kaleidoscope of “rock, blues, alternative, pop, and psychedelia.”
Founding member and frontman LaFreniere is passionate about Bluphoria’s restoration of rock ‘n’ roll. Their sound pays homage and honors the classic genre pioneered by the black men & women. As he explains it,
“Bluphoria is reframing it together in our way. The rhythm is the focal point. The blues is in there. Rock ‘n’ roll is definitely not dying.”
An Energetic Performance
Illuminated with disco lights and backed against old brick walls, the set was a little under an hour. Packed with originals and covers. Bluphoria’s top hits were played, like “Walk Through The Fire”, “Ain’t Got Me”, and “Set Me Up.” But in classic rock ‘n’ roll fashion, the band also took time to honor some of rock’s finest predecessors. They covered Elvis’ “Trouble”, Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire”, and Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”
Reign LaFreniere’s vocals are the perfect combination of gravelly yet soft. He paid homage to some rock greats himself, taking a Jimi Hendrix approach and playing guitar behind his back and with his tongue. Landrum and Wolf are electric themselves, with hair-whipping moments that are perfectly in sync with the rest of the band. In combination with newcomer Roth’s incredible drumming, it feels like Bluphoria’s been together for ages.
They took a small break in between numbers for the audience and the band members to raise their beers or seltzers and cheers—all to what feels like a very promising revival for rock ‘n’ roll.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Definitely Not Dead
From the minute the four members walked onto the small stage, the audience was captivated. Fifty minutes later, the energy throughout the Subterranean felt incredibly electric. Cheers and claps filled the small room as Bluphoria came out into the audience to greet fans, family, and take plenty of pictures.
About halfway through the show, an older gentleman moved next to me and asked if he could get closer for a picture. He was so excited to tell me that was his granddaughter up on stage drumming! For such a killer performance, this indie rock group is still incredibly humble and immensely nice. After their set, they spent the night hanging out with fans, family, and enjoying the rest of the music themselves.
Need More Bluphoria?
Although Bluphoria’s tour is nearing its last leg, tickets are still available, so check out the website and see if they’re coming to a venue near you.
Be sure to listen to their newest album Bluphoria, now now available on all streaming platforms. This up and coming rock ‘n’ roll band is one you don’t want to miss.