Double Door’s website states that the high profile rock venue, located on Milwaukee Avenue in the center of the uber-hip Wicker Park neighborhood, has had their stage graced by “hundreds of young emerging artists working their way through the live music scene.” Friday night, at a table on the mezzanine level, pop-punk trio Verona Grove gets ready to add their name to the prestigious list.

“We were supposed to get here at five,” says lead singer Tony Anders grabbing a chair, “and here we are pulling in at 7:45.” “We’re just ready to sit down with a beer before the show,” adds bassist Charlie Wilhelm, joining the table. Drummer Josh Helm nods his agreement. The Fon du Lac natives may be worn from their drive, but they’re still excited to be here and eager to get on stage.

In 2005, when Anders and Wilhelm first headed to Smart Studios with a dream and just enough money to produce one song, they couldn’t have forseen how far that song would take them. After engineer Justin Perkins (“who we thank with the world” exclaims Anders) finished with the track, he thought it was good enough to send off to record labels. Only a month later, Anders and Wilhelm were in talks with PRC. And in March of 2006, after representatives came to check them out in a live concert (“still doing half originals/half covers”), they soon found themselves signed to a label… and dropping out of college to relocate to L.A.

The Story Thought Over

“Tell me you’re not scared of being everything you dreamed,” Anders demands in the song “Everything You Dreamed.” And finding themselves set up with an apartment and a practice space in L.A., the band realized that they truly were living their dream. “This album is about a dream and having to leave people to make it happen,” explains Wilhelm. “We put everything that was ‘normal’ about life aside and put everything we had into one dream. We’re constantly asking ourselves, ‘Are you doing what you’re supposed to do or what you want to do?'” Adds Anders, “I know I’d never be able to live with myself if I didn’t at least give it a try.” And with their first album – “The Story Thought Over” - out a few days ago on the 21st, they’re playing live venues, hoping for radio play, and waiting to see what happens. 

With a sold out 4-band lineup (headlined by Lucky Boy’s Confusion) and Double Door’s 473-person capacity, tonight looks like it’s shaping up to be an impressive evening. As the band heads downstairs to prepare for the show, a slow stream of twenty-somethings flow through the front door. And right at nine, when the lights go up and Anders belts out “What’s up Chicago?!”, around 200 people have gathered on the main floor of the rock club to witness Verona Grove’s Double Door debut. As the boys kick it into high gear, the months of practice are evident in each beat, each strum, and each turn. Everything on stage feels precise and tight as the band jams through their repertoire, heads nodding throughout the audience.

With only half an hour of performance time, the band’s set, like their songs, is catchy, energetic, and over all too soon. Wrapping the show up with their single “Goodbye Surrender”, Anders tells the audience, “We’d love for you to pick up a cd. We’d also really love to meet ya.” And he really means it. Though Double Door is a 21 and up venue, Verona Grove is used to playing for all ages and wholeheartedly acknowledges the importance of their fan base.  “We’re only on stage for a brief time,” says Anders, “but our fans are always there.” Adds Helm, “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t even exist.” Wilhelm agrees. “We try to meet every kid we can after the show, because I know for me meeting the band can raise a show from a level 3 to a level 10.” It’s clear that tonight, and every night, they’re aiming for a 10.

For more information on Verona Grove, visit their home page
To purchase The Story Thought Over, visit Amazon

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