Citizen, Turnover shed labels in a jam-filled show at Double Door

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Citizen vocalist Mat Kerekes sings at the Bottom Lounge Saturday, March 12. (Matthew Paras/The DePaulia)

Citizen vocalist Mat Kerekes sings at the Bottom Lounge Saturday, March 12. (Matthew Paras/The DePaulia)

The term “emo” is thrown around in music so loosely now, that it’s hard to tell what categorizes as emo music anymore.  

Are the screaming-vocals of Citizen vocalist Mat Kerekes emo? How about the dream-inducing guitar work from the Virginia-based Turnover? And for good measure, Sorority Noise’s lyrics might be the most “emo” of the bands mentioned.

But regardless of if these bands fit into any of these labels, sometimes music can just be fun.

And after a show at the Double Door on March 12, Citizen, along with the supporting acts of Turnover and Sorority Noise, was certainly that. As Chicago was filled with a parade of drunkenness throughout the city for St. Patrick’s Day, scene kids flocked to Double Door for what was Citizen’s first tour as a headliner.

It’s been a long way for the Michigan-based band, who first played in Chicago in an abandoned warehouse in the summer of 2011. Kerekes recalled how most of the audience then was more enamored with the fireworks being lit off outside than they were with the music they were playing.

So it was quite the contrast for when the band opened with “The Summer,” an aggressive right-in-your-face tune from Citizen’s first album “Youth.”  The audience rushed to the front and sang every word along with the Kerekes. This was their moment, and they’ve formed quite a dedicated following — stage diving and all. (side note: if you’re stage diving with a back pack on, you deserved to not be caught when you jump back into the crowd.)

Likewise, co-headliner Turnover has also made tremendous strides — not only in fandom, but in musical progression as well.  “You call my name and it pulls me in,” vocalists Austin Getz and Eric Soucy trade off in singing at the end of “Hello Euphoria.” The track itself is soothing and layered in a twinkly-guitar riff that captures the perfect balance from “Peripheral Vision,” admittedly my favorite record from 2015.

Turnover’s dynamic shift in sound is the most impressive thing about them. They went from a near-generic pop-punk band to one of the most promising acts in a while. The band has fully realized it, only playing tracks from “Peripheral Vision” and “Humblest Pleasures,” an equally-solid EP released earlier in the month. Musically, Turnover might be on the opposite of the emo spectrum from Citizen, but the groups complement each other well.

Citizen, too, has shifted their sound. The band played a large chunk of their sophomore album “Everybody is going to Heaven,” which is a vast departure from “Youth.”

“To everyone like the critics who wrote on the internet they didn’t like the album … f**k them,” Citizen co-founder Nick Hamm said to the crowd. “It’s been great to see the response in person that you guys do enjoy it.”

I’ll admit it — I wasn’t a fan of the album and quickly disregarded it. However after seeing the songs translate live, maybe it’s time to revisit it.
For Citizen and Turnover, their live acts are definitely worth revisiting. And if it’s a while before I see them again, who knows what progressions in sound they’ll take forward — labels be damned.