Friko, a trio that’s cemented itself as a stalwart in the Chicago music scene, is frontman Niko Kapetan, and drummer Bailey Minzenberger. Their most recent release, “Crimson To Chrome,” is an anthemic offering, Kapetan’s vocals incendiary. It received glowing praise and attention from Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan, and Consequence, who wrote “Friko toggle between loud and quiet, thoughtful and self-deprecating, while never expressing anything less than the unbridled joy of noise.” FLOOD wrote the Chicago-based power-pop group is “ certain to stand out among the hundreds of acts gracing the various SXSW stages this year.” And that they did. The band took SXSW 2023 by storm, playing packed showcases over several days that made their Austin-debut a must-see occasion. Bolstered by the unwavering support from Chicago’s music scene, the buzz around new music, and the pure excitement witnessed at SXSW, the interest from labels is voracious and ever-increasing.
Over the band’s time together, it has become clear they are comfortable embracing multiple musical extremes at once. Their debut self-released 2022 EP, Whenever, Forever, weaves “together heart-on-sleeve folk, tense, smoldering post punk, and soaring, melodramatic chamber pop rooted in 2000s indie” (Chicago Reader). Lyrically, Kapetan explores the possibility and risks of a life given over to music, interrogating what a life well-lived means to him. The duality rings out in the compositions, evoking rock and folk icons such as Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake. The EP found collective support amongst the local music community, championed by their peers Horsegirl, Lifeguard, Free Range, and more.
Friko’s music is complex and dynamic, flickering between explosive rock, chamber pop, and serene sonics. It becomes even more pronounced in their live performances, where a crowd frenzied by wailing guitars finds itself minutes later collectively holding its breath, enamored by hypnotic strings and Kapetan’s emotive vocals. As the band plays out sweeping melodies, held up by thrashing guitar and punchy beats, it feels as if Kapetan sings to you. Crooning about stories you know, memories you had but have somehow forgotten.