Two Houses bring ‘triumphant sad bastard music’ back to Blind Bob’s

By Amanda Dee

Photo: Two Houses’ (l-r) Mike Boren, Dave Satterwhite, and Ryan Smith return to Blind Bob’s May 20; photo: Maryam Hassan

The party’s almost over and you’ve had more than one too many. It’s time to finally tell that someone how you really feel. Or cry yourself home. That moment, usually around 3 a.m., sits in your stomach even after the hangover has finally passed. The Chicago trio behind the punk outfit Two Houses channels, electrifies, and amplifies that moment to help you, and themselves, cope with it.

Two Houses bring this self-defined “triumphant sad bastard music” back to Blind Bob’s May 20, with their suitably titled 2016 LP, I Feel So Good I Can’t Stand Myself—a name divined when the three sipped drinks atop a hill in Dayton, Ohio, and heard James Brown shout “I feel so good I can’t stand myself!” from their late friend’s open window.

Touring and ending up in places like Dayton pushed Two Houses outside of their comfort zone, introducing them to fresh sounds and new voices outside of their local scene, including Dayton’s Abertooth Lincoln, a band which, they say, woke them up—and upped their game.

They didn’t always take the band seriously, though. Dave Satterwhite (drums and vocals), Mike Boren (guitar and vocals), and Ryan Smith (bass and vocals) of Two Houses came together when many future married couples meet: in college. They say the band began as a “let’s hang out in the basement and crush some beers sort of thing” in 2008. By 2010, it had become what they consider an “actual musical project,” and they started touring a few years later.

That “actual musical project” stumbled right into the Chicago punk scene, with boozy, raw subject matter and a steady drum beat that’ll hold your hand when you start feeling lost in chords.

They tap into a stream of influences beyond Illinois state lines, as well, including Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk, The Replacements, and Big Star. The rest is influenced simply by what they’re living. Shitty jobs. Stained sheets. Drinking, quitting.

Although individual members create bits and pieces, lyrics and riffs, in isolation, they always create songs together, releasing them in the same way. Satterwhite and Boren verbally toy with emptiness and regrets throughout I Feel So Good I Can’t Stand Myself, but “The Fear” stings more than the others, written about Boren’s lifelong friend who recently committed suicide.

“When I wake up most mornings still hung over, the ringing in my ears, the voice in my head saying always the same goddamn thing,” Boren sings. “It’s just, ‘You don’t deserve the things you have, and you’ll never get the ones you’ve wanted.’”

He sings about the nagging thoughts and self-medications that drove his friend to his end, a conclusion that Boren himself or whomever is listening might see too clearly in their own rearview mirror.

Halfway through the track, the breakdown leaves a second too long to think about your own guilt and unfulfilled dreams, but before you would risk drowning, Boren chants and chants, “Tell me, what’s there left between me and the Fear?” finishing more like a punk anthem, a much-needed relief.

“I think there’s a catharsis to playing live when you can play loud,” Boren says, “and you can maybe get something—that might hurt—off your chest but you’re putting it out in a way that is a celebration of everything, even if it might be your darkest impulse.”

“I think there’s another element from a tech standpoint that since we’re writing the music end together,” Smith says, “you have that social energy that comes together from three people who have been hanging out and partying together for eight years.”

Like the vocalized crutches of drugs and bad decisions, music, for them, is another go-to medicine. “Without question,” Boren states. “Music’s a weird thing, right? It’s sounds, there’s words, things that coincide—an emotion that you can cue up in a song that might take a movie two hours and a book hundreds of pages. There’s this huge emotional power to it that’s undeniable, both from a writing process and a listening perspective.

“Whether it’s listening to your favorite record or seeing just a random band at the corner bar, there’s a huge power to it that’s just absolutely undeniable.”

“That’s kind of the mark of a good song, start to finish,” Satterwhite adds, “if it can get my rocks off emotionally, so to speak.”

Connect with Two Houses this weekend, and see if they can get your emotional rocks off. They promise they’ll at least be honest with you.

Two Houses play Saturday, May 20 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. in the Oregon District. Close the Hatch, Horseburner, and Black Sire are also on the bill. Show starts around 9:30 p.m. Cover is $5. For more information, please call 937.938.6405 or visit 

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