Illuminati Hotties REVIEW – What is Tender Punk?

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Sarah Tudzin’s “Tender Punk” band called Illuminati Hotties

Sarah Tudzin, the LA based producer, mixer, and studio-rat, has burst out of the studio with what she calls a “Tender Punk”project.  She formed the band called Illuminati Hotties which sounds a lot like a traditional punk band (lots of pounding drumbeats and guitar noise).  What sets the music apart, though, is that while punk’s main emotion is anger, “Tender Punk” includes a wider array of emotions.  Lyrics describe what it’s like being a young adult with topics including dating, drinking, making mistakes and Paypal(?).  There is also a healthy amount of playfulness that really makes the album.

With such a great debut album to show off, The Illuminati Hotties hit the road to share it.  They stopped in Chicago over the weekend to play a sold-out show at The Hideout.

The band wailed on their guitars

The first thing you notice about Sara Tudzin when she hits the stage is the emotion and energy of the album isn’t a put-on.  She really embodies all of it.  The ‘Hotties (all of them wearing short-shorts) kick started the night by playing the song (You’re Better) Than Ever right off the bat.  It’s a rip-roaring romp that is extremely high energy.  A perfect start.  The band wailed on their guitars, jumped all over the stage, screamed, danced and the crowd was instantly in the palm of their hands.

With the Illuminati Hotties, the emotions are always on display.  Tudzin is still in her mid-twenties and the band is very new; the album came out in Summer 2018.  So when Tudzin noticed that the crowd knew every word to her songs, she became a little overwhelmed.  She had to take a moment to gather herself and then thanked the crowd for singing along.  It was a cool moment, not just for her, but for the audience who thought they might be seeing the start of something special.

The Hideout’s room is so intimate that it seemed like the audience and the band were old friends

The Illuminati Hotties’ songs switch back and forth between in your face punk rock to more quiet, moody, heart-on-your-sleeve ballads.  There is also a great deal of humor to the music and to Tudzin as well.  Not only did she rip through the songs, but she told jokes, took shots of Chicago’s famous Malort liquor and threw out candy hearts to the crowd (one that said “Yowza!”).

The Hideout’s room is so intimate that it seemed like the audience and the band were old friends. The give and take between the crowd and the band seemed like give and take between people that have known each other for years.  It truly is a fun place to see a show.

For the encore, the rest of the band stayed off-stage and let Tudzin handle it herself.  The song she chose was Declutter.  The song is a slow, heart-wrenching song to an ex about how she doesn’t care anymore (or maybe how she is trying to convince herself not to care anymore).  Again, the emotion was real.  When the song was done tears could be seen in some of the audience’s eyes and in Tudzin’s as well.  At that moment, everyone in the room experienced exactly what “Tender Punk” truly means.

Photos by K. Joseph Fotos. Full Gallery Here.


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