Punk Rock, Chicago Style

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Sincere Engineer set to open at the Paramount Nov. 17

Singer-songwriter Deanna Belos and Sincere Engineer come to The Paramount in Huntington on Nov. 17.
(Photo by Katie Hovland Photography)

Sometimes you wake up on the bathroom floor. Sometimes existential angst keeps you from getting up from the couch. Sometimes apathy mixes with social anxiety and failed expectations.

The emo/pop-punk ethos is clearly laid out on Rhombithian, the 2017 debut album from the Chicago-based Sincere Engineer—a punk-rock project led by singer-songwriter Deanna Belos that comes to The Paramount in Huntington on Nov. 17.

Taking the stage in support of New York City emo-punk-rock pioneers Bayside—along with two Long Island bands, Incendiary and Sainthood Reps—Belos brings her blend of rambunctious attitude and blunt self-scrutiny to East Coast audiences with her band of Chicago-scene regulars in tow.

“[Bayside] asked us to play! I’m super excited to see them play every night,” she said. “And I’m excited to finally bring the full band to the East Coast. There’s a bunch of cities we’re playing that we haven’t before. It should be really fun.”

Belos first made the rounds as a solo act—performing a brand of folk-punk-emo on acoustic guitar. Now with a full band, Belos’ urgently narrative lyrical style is layered with gnarled guitars and a galloping backbeat.

5 Quick Ones For Deanna Belos of Sincere Engineer

Favorite artist/musician/band?

The Lawrence Arms

Favorite album of all time?

This is a tough one. I’m honestly not sure. Broken Star by The Broadways, Parrot Flies by Algernon Cadwallader. Um. Third Eye Blind’s self-titled.

What song of yours do you absolutely love to play live?

Probably “Shattering.” It usually gets a good crowd response and I love singing it.

Any new or lesser-known bands you think people should hear?

Mover Shaker. Heart Attack Man. Signals Midwest.

What’s one place where Chicago visitors should definitely eat?

For pizza, Aurelio’s. Or Lou Malnati’s. Portillo’s for anything. Pop’s if you’re in the ’burbs. Get some Polishes at Jim’s on Maxwell Street. Find a pizza puff, those are also important. Oh, you said “one.”

“I like playing both solo and full band, but prefer full band. It’s way more fun to play with them—and it’s easier to not make super obvious mistakes,” she laughed.

Even with a full band filling in the gaps, Belos’ melodically powerful delivery of introspective lyrics stands out as Sincere Engineer’s most distinct feature. Her songwriting evokes self-deprecating sentiments, with twinges of regret mixed with an undeniable humor. This is especially true in the hangover confessional “Ceramic Tile,” where Belos sings “Ceramic tile in the bathroom/You make me dizzy on this drunken afternoon/But you’re cold against my face/When I lie down on top of you.”

Sincere Engineer (Photo by Katie Hovland Photography)

Meanwhile, on “Overbite,” Belos cops to a failed attempt to get into dental school—which ended up leading her directly down a musical path.

“I didn’t really have a choice, as I didn’t get into dental school! But it wasn’t looking promising for years before that. I used to get the same bad grades whether I spent all night studying or did not spend all night studying,” she said, adding that the transformation of failure into music is crucial to her self-preservation. “[Songwriting is] definitely therapeutic and helps me process emotions. It’s also a distraction. That’s probably what I get most out of it. It’s something healthy I can put my energy into instead of putting it toward negative thoughts and actions.”

After this current tour, the Chicago native and her band will return home to finish work on their second album, which Belos said they’re aiming to release next year. But rather than getting ahead of herself, Belos prefers to enjoy her current reality—the weird world where this fan of the Chicago music scene suddenly finds herself shepherding a scene of her own.

“We’ve been really grateful for all the opportunities we’ve been given,” she said. “Playing with [Chicago- based] Alkaline Trio in particular was a surreal one for me. And it’s also super weird and cool to play all the venues I used to frequent when I was in high school. It’s like, oh, I know what the back and upstairs of Metro looks like now.”

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