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Jim DeRogatis Chicago Sun Times Review

Demo2DeRo: 20 Mark Helga

Jim DeRogatis
on February 4, 2009 2:41 PM

To hear bandleader Phineas Gage tell it, the Chicago quartet 20 Mark Helga takes its name from "the German prostitute my mom thought my father hired in Berlin back in the day" (the Deutsche Mark predating the Euro as German currency, of course). And this kind of historically minded, gently ribald barroom humor permeates the band's earthy/underground take on classic rock, bringing to mind what may be Chicago's version of Minneapolis-to-Brooklyn transplants the Hold Steady.

A veteran presence on the local scene, guitarist-vocalst Gage formed the band with bassist Evan Faassen and drummer Joe Versino, eventually completing the group with former Rule 42 member Steve Olson on acoustic guitar. The band has been gigging out since the spring of 2008, and it's gearing up to record its debut album. In the mean time, it's
posted the live demos for several strong tunes, including "Eclipse" and "The Great Divide," on its MySpace page at www.myspace.com/20markhelga1.


All things Musical and Philosophical & Russ-ical by Russ Van Rooy

20 Mark Helga is an up an coming Chicago band I've been listening to. They have a classic rock sound that harkens back to 60s / 70s era bands. Their lead guitarist Phineas Gage can really burn it up and his guitar sound recalls ,for me, Buffalo Springfield era Neil Young. This ain't soft rock though, not by a long sho...t. You might also catch a glimmer of punk/garage influences while managing a great mix of electric and acoustic guitars. Maybe it is easier to say what this band doesn't sound like: not Deathcab, not Radiohead, not Snow Patrol, not Bloc Party, none of that shit. (and I love Deathcab and Radiohead) - but definitely a straight ahead rock and roll with a bit of a folk-rock/garage thing going on. Well worth the listen, my friends! I'll post a couple of their songs here.

Itunes Review of Something to Hold: Great Live Rock Sound! 


This is not a Steely Dan-like-over produced-studio album.  That is a good thing.  Close your eyes and 20 Mark Helga makes you think you are, or yearn to be, in a bar.  You can feel the speakers thumping in your chest, the cold beer in your hand, the press of bodies dancing, and your feet sticking to the floor.  I learned of this band on their facebook page where videos of exactly that scene show their energy and impact on listeners.  There is an edge to some of these songs and you can’t help but be pulled in.