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Indie rock band returns to Christian Connection

SYCAMORE – National tours have their perks, but the members of DeKalb-based indie rock band FUE are looking forward to playing an intimate show near home.

FUE will return to Christian Connection bookstore in downtown Sycamore at 7 p.m. today to play a free acoustic set. The in-store performance at 337 State St. will feature music from the band's second full-length album, Gray Matters, released in June.

The latest album brims with honesty and vulnerability, lead singer and songwriter Joanna Rutzky said. Rutzky, a 27-year-old DeKalb native, pulled lyrics from her experience dealing with the end of relationships and a couple of family members' deaths, as well as seeing others struggle with addiction.

“I think a lot of times we want clear answers, but there is an in-between,” Rutzky said. “I found myself turning to God and faith to steady me. There is truth. I can turn to him.”

This album, unlike FUE's prior album and EPs, has a more sonic, synth-based sound, Rutzky said. The band toyed with vocal effects, keyboard and more electronic effects for the 11-track record, which ranges from hopeful to contemplative.

While their faith plays a big part in the music and all four FUE members are Christians, band members don't classify themselves as strictly contemporary Christian, bass player Isaac Flex said. The music emphasizes their life journeys and often poses questions, which reflect some of the questions they've posed about their own beliefs, said Flex, 21, of Waterman.

“Music is art, and because my faith is meaningful to me, it interacts,” Flex said.

Since forming four years ago, FUE has spent time touring festivals, churches, schools and music venues across the country. They've played the Cornerstone Music Festival, The Extreme Tour and embarked on their own six-state tour last summer, Resist the Fear-Pursue the Dream.

The Hard Rock Cafes in Chicago and Indianapolis consider the band a headlining act. They also have opened for Stryper, Daniel and the Lion and the Rhett Walker Band. Songs from FUE’s first full-length CD, Resist and Winter’s Eve EP have been added to more than 200 terrestrial and Internet radio station playlists throughout the world. 

Still, something about a more intimate performance captivates the band.

“You probably have an acoustic guitar,” Rutzky said. “You get to know the people that come out. We love interacting with the people who come to hear us.”

The band has performed at Christian Connection once before, during downtown Sycamore's Winter Chocolate Walk. Christian Connection is the only retail outlet in the area to carry all of the band's CDs.

Gray Matters has made its way into the regular rotation of music constantly playing in the store, said owner Shari Malm. She sees music as a means to build on her strength, as well as something to rely on during trying times.

“It can be encouraging,” Malm said. “It can be uplifting, and it can be support for people.”

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