Chicago's hottest pop band plays at the Pomp Room tonight and Saturday.
The Bad Examples return to Sioux Falls for their first shows since their 14-song album, Bad Is Beautiful, was released Sept. 1 on Waterdog Records, a Chicago-based independent label.
The press has been flattering. "Hands down, Chicago's best pop band," the Twin Cities Reader said. The Chicago Tribune pumped the band with this critique: "Bad is definitely good in this case. It's also one of the finest examples of songcraft to come out of the local scene in quite some time."
Last weekend, the band taped a show for Mountain Stage, a music program on many public radio stations.
For band leader Ralph Covert, who grew up in Brookings, the sudden ascension to national notoriety fulfills a dream.
"I went off to camp one summer and the counselor played Sgt. Pepper's non-stop for two weeks. When I got back from camp, I knew what I wanted to do with my life," says Covert, now in his late 20s.
He wrote his first song when he was 9. He spent his youth in Brookings, where his dad taught at South Dakota State University, then moved around the country. He settled in Chicago in the mid-1970s.
The 14 tunes on Bad Is Beautiful - all originals - are notable for their pure pop, Squeeze-like melodies and cunning, sardonic lyrics. "I love her, but I can't trust her," Covert sings in the subtle cut She Smiles Like Richard Nixon. While the band has received radio play in big cities, it hasn't scored an audience among the college stations.
"We're too melodic and too clean for a lot of college radio. The success we've had with radio has been major market hit radio. Cities 97 in Minneapolis has us in rotation. In Chicago, WXRT, which is the big powerhouse station in town, put us in rotation last week," Covert says.
"The thing that has been encouraging so far is that the support we've gotten has been from substantial sources. We're obviously doing things from a grass-roots level, but people interested in it have been things like Mountain Stage and major radio stations. The press hasn't been the El Paso Armadillo.