Jared Tousey, left, Vince Gannon, James Pickering and CJ Jarmuth revisit a favorite venue when they headline 3D Sideouts in Island Lake Saturday, Aug. 6. // Courtesy of John Ferrante

Wauconda’s Glory Days growing the suburban pop-punk scene with Sideouts show

Growing up in the quiet Northwestern Suburb of Wauconda, James Pickering and CJ Jarmuth of Glory Days counted Flowers for Dorian, an area band that broke onto the national scene in the mid-2000s, as a musical role model. So when Glory Days was invited to open for them at Sideouts in Island Lake in 2019, it was a huge opportunity.

“It was a big deal for us because they were a band that I listened to in high school, and I was like, ‘Well, these guys are from around here, and they’re a real band, so I can probably do that then,'” said guitarist Jarmuth. “It made me want to start playing music with a bunch of my friends.”

Now in their late 20s, Glory Days returns to headline an outdoor gig at the Island Lake venue this weekend with friends Three Oh Go and a slate of new songs, including the recently released single “Well Enough.”

The foursome — including Cary’s Vince Gannon on bass and secondary vocals and founding member Jared Tousey of Wauconda on drums — slides smoothly along a spectrum between alternative rock and modern pop-punk. And while much of the band’s catalog, dating back to 2016, leans heavily on lightning-quick rhythms and frenetic energy, the newer “Well Enough” is a much more generous blend of the two genres, a catchy, radio-friendly chorus rippling with more than a hint of punk-rock defiance.

“It was a pretty, at least for me, a meaningful release,” Jarmuth said. “It was the first original song that we’ve put out since 2019. Coming fresh out of a global pandemic, we wanted to make something worth releasing that hopefully people would enjoy. I was proud to see that, compared to older stuff we’ve written together, and see just how far we’ve come. For me it felt like a pretty monumental occasion.”

“Just getting back into playing shows, back into releasing music,” he added. “It felt like being in a band for the first time again. It was super exciting.”

Glory Days was born in 2016 — the official lineup was locked down in 2017 — from a scene that was surviving but not truly thriving. Pickering, who was inspired to play music by his blues guitarist uncle and the eclectic musical tastes of his parents and grandma, said there weren’t a lot of venues that were open to punk music when he was growing up, so bands played house shows and gathered at the Just for Fun Roller Rink in McHenry. But because of that, the punk community was small and tight, with everyone somehow knowing everyone else.

“The fact that all of our paths had crossed in so many different ways throughout the years made it all that much funnier when we came together and made music,” Pickering said.

The tight-knit nature of that scene — and the sincerity of the people in it — kept the ties strong as it began to grow in recent years.

“Once you dip your toe into that scene, you get sucked right in,” he said. “It’s like, you don’t know, how does the punk rock community evolve around here? That was it. As soon as you find out where it’s at and how to get to it, and the more you go, you just get sucked right into it. And then you’re like, ‘Oh, I know everybody around here.'”

“And you start meeting some really genuine people, some really friendly faces, and then you start going to other shows and seeing those same people there,” Jarmuth added.

Getting on bills at the former Penny Road Pub in Barrington and Wire in Berwyn and joining the lineups of the 20 Bands of Christmas and Feels Fest helped make Glory Days a regular on the punk and pop-punk scenes in the suburbs and Chicago.

Glory Days heads to the outdoor patio at 3D Sideouts in Island Lake Saturday, Aug. 6. // Courtesy of Taylor Sears

“It wasn’t until the past couple of years that we realized just how much of a support system we have around here,” Jarmuth said. “It’s been incredible to play a show at a bar in a place that no one’s heard of and still get like 200-plus people in the door.”

Pickering said Glory Days has a full EP’s worth of music in its back pocket, hammering out details for upcoming single releases. And this weekend guests may even get to hear some of them, peppered in among the band’s favorites along with some surprises they have planned.

“The special thing about Sideouts is that we are playing in front of our hometown. The majority of the people are our friends, and their energy, we just feed off of it. So it’s always a party when we play there,” Pickering said. “We’re not trying to impress anybody. We’re just there mostly for us to just have fun. And then everybody else just has fun. That’s what makes the show special to me.”

“Obviously, we want to put on a good show. We want to play well. We want to be good entertainers. But at the same time, we feel like since it’s so close to home and everyone is there to have a good time, and everyone knows everyone in the crowd, that we don’t really have anything to prove,” Jarmuth said. “It just it ends up being a giant, positive hangout session.”

• • •

Glory Days with Three Oh Go

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6
Where: 3D Sideouts, 4018 W. Roberts Road, Island Lake, (847) 526-7174 or 3dsideouts.com
Tickets: Free general admission; $10 for paid seating with outdoor table reservations (minimum of four people)

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