After Band's Equipment Stolen in Wicker Park, Fans Donate Guitars, Pedals

By Quinn Ford on January 18, 2014 12:35pm 

 Members of Brass Bed pose with guitars donated by Fender. Someone burglarized the band's van following a show in Wicker Park, and made off with about $8,000 worth of gear. Fans and friends chipped in to replace almost all the gear for the Louisiana-based band.
Members of Brass Bed pose with guitars donated by Fender. Someone burglarized the band's van following a show in Wicker Park, and made off with about $8,000 worth of gear. Fans and friends chipped in to replace almost all the gear for the Louisiana-based band.
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Facebook/Brass Bed

WICKER PARK — The four members of Brass Bed woke up about 9 a.m. Wednesday in Wicker Park with a long car trip ahead of them.

They had 460 miles to drive to a gig in Pittsburgh, their second stop on a tour for the Louisiana-based band. The band had played Tuesday night at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave.

But when they got to their van to head out on the road, they noticed a problem.

Nearly all their music equipment was gone.

"I opened the door, looked inside and saw shattered glass," said lead singer Christiaan Mader. "The reality of the situation dawned on me [that] the van had been broken into."

The four band members — Mader, Ben Jones, Peter DeHart and Jonny Campos — called the police and filed a report, but they were realistic about the chances the equipment would be found. They figured stolen instruments and sound equipment is not exactly a top priority for the Chicago Police Department, Mader said.

So the band posted a list of what was taken on their Facebook page in case any of their friends or fans in Chicago came across their gear.

All in all, the band lost about $8,000 worth of equipment, they estimated, not exactly something a quick trip to a guitar store could fix.

What happened next, Mader said, could only be described as "amazing." Supporters began chipping in to replace the stolen gear and, in about 36 hours, had given enough to replace "nearly everything lost."

Fender even sent the band some guitars.

"The response to [the message] was emotionally overwhelming," Mader said. "To receive that much generosity...was just staggering."

The band had to cancel their Wednesday show in Pittsburgh because they had to wait until 7 p.m. for the window of their van to be fixed; the idea of driving on I-90 in January with an open window was a bit too much for four guys from Lafayette, La., Mader said.

But they were able to make their next show in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night.

Driving in the van Friday on their way to a show in Philadelphia, Mader said in a phone interview the band, which has played together for about six years, was still taken aback by how quickly people were willing to help.

"It snowballed," he said. "You end up crowdsourcing generosity in a way you couldn't expect."

But Mader also had a warning for bands heading to Wicker Park to play: "You really have to keep watch of your s---."

Broncho, the band who is touring alongside Brass Bed, also had its van broken into while they were performing at Subterranean, Mader said. The band lost some luggage.

Mader said what happened has not affected his opinion of the city though.

"I don't think it casts a black eye on the city of Chicago as a whole," he said. "Certainly, we're not going to write off performances there because Chicago is one of the biggest music markets in the United States."

But next time, they will be more careful. Maybe, the band might look into parking its van in a garage, Mader said.

"It may be worth it."

Chicago has turned into a Bermuda Triangle of sorts for bands before. In 2011, Portugal the Man had $80,000 of equipment stolen after it played Lollapalooza; the equipment was later bought at a swap meet for $1,000. California band FayRoy's stolen equipment was found by a guitar vendor last year; a pair of bands from Athens, Ga., suffered a similar fate in November.

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