An earthy voice that could easily belong to a major rock chanteuse sang out a cover of Harry Nilsson’s 1974 classic, “Don’t Forget Me” on a lawn in the June twilight.
The voice was 12-year-old Elenna Sindler, an 8th grader at Northbrook Junior High.
Sindler is the lead singer of Northbrook Garage, a blues-rock band formed by four junior high students with serious musical chops. The year-old group, which also includes Sam Harkey on harmonica and guitar, Eric von Holst on bass and Eric Doar on guitar and drums, is less than two weeks from playing the biggest gig of their lives: Lollapalooza.
“We’re really spending a lot of time on our own and as a group trying to work out all the bugs,” Harkey says.
Northbrook Garage will play two 25-minute sets on Friday and Saturday at the Lollapalooza “Kidzapalooza” stage in Grant Park. Though they are excited to share a bill with the likes of Coldplay, Eminem and Foo Fighters at the festival’s 20th anniversary, they’re anticipating their first festival-going experience even more.
“I already have my whole schedule circled,” Doar says, as his band mates excitedly speak over him, calling out the concerts they’re looking forward to most.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Cee-Lo and Muse are all must-sees for Northbrook Garage.
As for the music they make, the inspiration comes largely from their parents’ collections—hence the Nilsson cover. Other classics from Northbrook Garage’s repertoire include Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” and “She Ain’t a Child No More” by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.
“Our parents come to us with a lot with ideas,” Harkey says. “They bring us the backbone of a song, then we take it and make it our own.”
Influences the group cites include Phish, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd—not surprising from soon-to-be freshman boys.
“I listen to the Beatles, they’re pretty good,” von Holst casually remarks.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Northbrook Garage’s success is that, like most modern kids, they’re juggling band practice with schoolwork and other extracurricular activities, such as hockey, baseball and plays.
“Managing time is key,” says Doar. “We always have a schedule and managing conflicts can be hard, but we’re all committed, so we make the time.”
Northbrook Garage is young, both physically and as a band, so rather than looking at Lollapalooza as a peak, the group considers the sold-out fest a jumping off point. When asked what the next step is for the band, the consensus was that they plan to start thinking globally.
“We’ve only been together for a year, and we’re playing Lollapalooza,” says Sindler, “so who knows what can happen in 2 or 3 years.”
Doar adds, with a far-off look in his eye, “We’ve always gotta push the limit.”
Lead photo: Elenna Sindler and Eric Von Holst