Kids These Days beyond their years

By Sophia Coleman

In the two years they’ve been together, local band Kids These Days has gained a major reputation. From performing for sold out crowds at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., to scoring a spot at Lollapalooza, the future couldn’t be brighter for the band of seven talented musicians, all under the age of 20.

The first layer of sound is both blues and alternative rock, with Macie Stewart’s sultry vocals, Liam Cunningham’s raw expertise in both voice and guitar, and the on-point rhythms of rapper Vic Mensa. When mixed with the jazzy horns of Nico Segal and bone-jarring notes of J.P. Floyd on trombone, the sound becomes more gritty and daring. All is brought together by the soulfulness of Lane Beckstrom on bass and the spirit of Greg Landfair on drums.

The Chronicle sat down with Mensa and Landfair to discuss their versatility, how the group formed and how far they have come from practicing in the depths of Liam’s basement.

The Chronicle: Why the band name?

Vic Mensa: It’s an ironic name because normally the phrase “kids these days,” is spoken in a negative light. People have told us, verbatim, that “kids these days don’t play instruments.” So with our name, we are shutting that whole mentality down that the youth is lost.

The Chronicle: How did you all meet?

Greg Landsair: Some of us met at Merit’s School of Music [and] others met at Whitney [M.] Young [Magnet] High School. [At Merit’s] we were studying jazz—playing every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Liam, Nico and Lane had a plan to start a hip-hop band. We started jamming in Liam’s basement after school.

VM: We formed like Voltron: Transformers style. We were all pieces of the puzzle and we came together.

The Chronicle: How would you describe your sound?

GL: It’s creative freedom. We have the ability to dig back to ’60s rock—but also have a hip-hop beat, some jazz with the horns and some soul with Macie’s singing.

The Chronicle: Vic, we heard a little bit about your experience at Lollapalooza two years ago. Could you tell us what happened?

VM: I almost died. I was in the hospital for three nights. I was trying to sneak in, climbing up some treacherous s–t. I fell [approximately] 30 feet and was electrocuted by a transformer. After I fell down, I still thought I was going to sneak in. I was in shock and all I wanted to do was get in.

The Chronicle: So it was a completely different story this year?

VM: It was amazing. One year later [from that accident], we performed at a prime-time spot at Lolla.

GL: It was our dream to perform there. Our die-hard fans, friends and families were there. So that was one of the biggest things about it, performing in our home town.

The Chronicle: You all are taking a year off of school. What has occupied your year?

GL: We are going to get a taste of what a real, full-length tour is going to be like [during] the next couple of months. We’re working on a project called “Trap House Rock” and we will be working with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

VM: In January, we sold out our first show at Reggie’s [Rock Club]—500 tickets. We thought we [had] made it when that happened. In June, we had a big show at Metro with 1,300 people—which was even crazier. Then on [Oct. 14] we opened for J. Cole and Big Sean with 10,000 people. We’ve been playing crowds and working it.

The Chronicle: To what do you owe the major success of the band?

VM: I think people recognize the real. We make music authentically and for the right reasons. We all have good heads on our shoulders and we work well together—we’re a family.

For more information on Kids These Days, visit