The Heligoats’ Chris Otepka was once the lead singer/songwriter in Chicago’s beloved indie-pop band Troubled Hubble. The band toured relentlessly, with some legendary performances given by Otepka—at a Troubled Hubble showcase at South By Southwest, for instance, Otepka became so impassioned during his band’s set that he jumped off a balcony and broke his ankle, but kept on playing. Shortly after he returned to the stage he passed out mid-concert.
After all that road action, Troubled Hubble disbanded in 2005, and now Otepka has the time and space to complete his first solo project. Under The Heligoats moniker, Otepka steps out of his frontman rocker shoes and into more of a composer’s chair—the album features flute, moog, violin, theremin and a horn section, all deftly directed by Otepka to tinkle and swell at the right moments. (The project is entirely written and produced by Otepka, but it does include guest musicians and he travels with a band.) And while these songs still hold an element of Otepka’s charming and dorky farmboy-cum-rocker honesty, he seems to have let down his guard a little. He even sounds quite a bit more vulnerable and sincere as a Heligoat: “I want to eat your skin/while you talk to yourself/I like that about us.” (Caroline Keys)
The Heligoats play the Badlander Friday, Oct. 24, at 9 PM. Modern State and Pluto’s a Planet open. $5.