By this point I'd been writing show reviews since I was 16 for Punknews.org and had gotten decently known for a couple of my longer, more exhaustive ones. I'm not even shitting you, they helped me get the job in the first place. Six years of practice and a unique style went right out the fucking window with Althea. We had a harsh word limit in place, reverse chronological order imposed on us and disproportiant coverage of the bands demanded. This isn't the Tribune fer chrissakes!
I swear to christ I worked on the review for the last Punch In The Face show for three solid days to get it up to her standards. A review for fucking Punch In The Face ate up days of my time. Like I said, she was completely clueless about not only my scene but also my writing. This isn't meant as a personal attack but rather an airing of facts.
Punch in the Face/Straightjacket Nation/I Attack/Cardiac Arrest/Thought Crusade
May 31st, 2008
Pre-announced last shows bring mixed emotions for a band’s fans. On one hand, it’s great that they’re giving you one last time to hear all your favorites but in the back of your head, you know for certain that it’s the last time and get bummed out. If all goes well, the last show closes the band’s legacy with an explosive bang and not a quiet whimper. Luckily, Punch In The Face’s last blast falls into the former category.
Punch In The Face formed in 2001, long before the recent comeback of the 1980s USHC sound. However, as the sound it championed grew in popularity, the band took a reclusive stance and waited on the sidelines, performing live only six times in the past two years. Less than a year after finally releasing its debut LP At War With Everybody (after two highly sought after EPs and several cassette demos and compilation slots) PITF announced that after this show, the band was breaking up.
Punch In The Face obviously practiced long and hard for this show, pulling out almost every song it released, and even a few rarities, for its final half hour on stage. High points of the set included standards like “Cut The Shit, Start The Pit,” “Worst Episode Ever,” “At War With Everybody,” and “Not Here to Make Friends” on top of rare compilation track “We’ve Got Bush.” Barely coming up for air, PITF blitzed through multiple four or five song blocks without stopping; naturally the kids raged heavily in response. Not one song went by without multiple stage dives, reckless slam dancing and passionate fist pumping. Unfortunately, PITF decided to end its legacy with a Cro-Mags cover (who were undoubtedly one of the worst things to ever happen to punk rock), but one misstep can’t take away from a truly transcendent final show, or a spotless seven-year career. Punch In The Face will definitely be missed by all fans of, per the name of its second EP, “Dumb Hardcore.”
The penultimate band of the night was Straightjacket Nation, representing
Third on the bill came the recently re-formed I Attack, formerly one of the most caustic and exciting skate-core bands in the
Despite being the second band, the night really started to move when
June 20, 2008
Is juvenile humor best left to those that can’t legally vote? Or can another level of absurdity be added to puerile statements when the person saying them is old enough to be a grandfather. Tesco Vee and his new lineup of The Meatmen answered this question Friday night, and the answer resounds even three days later; dirty old men are just as funny as their young counterparts.
After a twelve year break, The Meatmen are back with a new lineup and ready to terrorize all PC punk rockers again. The group first gained notice back in the early 80s hardcore scene with their attempt at being the most offensive band ever. Unlike most bands from that scene that have reunited, The Meatmen played songs from every era and sound they attempted. Later, more metallic compositions like “War of the Superbikes” and “Rock N Roll Juggernaut” fit right in with first EP classics like “Tooling For Anus” and “Meatmen Stomp.” Other high points of the night were Tesco’s updated ode to The Beatles “2 Down, 2 To Go,” “Mr. Tapeworm,” and their closing cover of obscure
Bringing to mind an alternate universe where Carrot Top might be funny, Tesco kept a box full of props stage left all night, employing them when needed. The most over the top prop undoubtedly had to be a four foot tall cardboard penis with “Veiny Bulger” scrawled in black paint across the shaft. Other noteworthy props included a light up Detroit Tigers hat, an LCD light belt with “Fuck You” scrolling across all night long, Jim Varney masks, American Flag jackets, cowboy hats, a hankie with “God is an Asshole” scraled on it, and much more. At points it almost resembled a demented performance art act.
M.O.T.O. provided direct support Friday night. Around for over 25 years in some form or another, M.O.T.O. has quite a few catchy-as-crabs songs in their vast repertoire of power-poppy punk rock. The only problem is that M.O.T.O. always end up over staying their welcome. A 20 minute set from them would be excellent, yet they always play for over 45. Crowd pleasers like “I Hate My Fucking Job” and “I Talk In Clichés” brightened up the much too long 15+ song set.
Featuring members of Apocalypse Hoboken, The Brokedowns and
Off With Their Heads/The Brokedowns/Das Kapital/Love & Squalor
Gruff, Midwestern punk rock
June 25, 2008
“Life's got the best of me and I just want to drop to my knees/Scream and punch the concrete until my hands bleed/It's all a fucking joke to me/I wake up and work, and get fucked up and sleep/And then wake up and work and get fucked up all over again,” sang OWTH’s enigmatic frontman Ryan Young, as dozens of fans sang along with him on Wednesday night at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen. There’s something to be said for a band that can take the darkest, most depressing feelings possible in a human being and somehow turn them into celebratory songs; that is the essence of
Despite the short set length no one left too unsatisfied – to be frustrated with this band is to love them; it’s almost Replacements-esque. This group of lovable losers is capable of such great heights yet always ends up sabotaging themselves. Were they to actually reach that plateau though, they’d lose what made them so special in the first place.
Leading up to OWTH was the much less depressing and exponentially jokier Brokedowns; the biggest crowd reaction of the night came with its take on the gruff, Midwestern punk rock formula. Since releasing its Thick Records debut New Brains For Everyone last May, the band’s profile has risen significantly, and the band’s set outlasted the headliners. The witty stage banter helped along the pacing of the set, but The Brokedowns is a band best seen occasionally, not very often. Die hard fans love them, but for casual fans the shtick wears thin pretty easily.
Early set openers worth mentioning were Love & Squalor ad Das Kapital., While only one L&S member sported a beard, their Gainesville-via-Chicago take on gruff, melodic punk rock would fool the average punker into thinking their neck beards were fuller than Paul Bunyan’s. The group mostly stuck to songs off of their 2007 full length New Blood, New Songs, but closed their set with a pretty awesome cover of “Pauline” from Screeching Weasel. Meanwhile DK was the odd band out on this bill, running through a spirited bunch of bouncy, poppy tunes reminiscent of the early-‘90s. To further push along this parallel, the bass player was wearing a backward Wayne’s World hat. Holy shit, its 1991! These guys definitely fall into the category of bands where the records aren’t that great but they’re fun to watch live.
June 27, 2008
A far-less-than-capacity crowd filed into Reggie’s in Chicago’s South Loop on Friday for the return of Sludgeworth, one of the unsung heroes of early-‘90s pop punk. The crowd consisted mostly of older gents who no doubt were around for the band’s original go-round. So, the night was a time to re-live past glories, not for new fans that never got a chance in the first place.
Finally taking the stage at 1 a.m., Sludgeworth powered through a sloppy, yet charismatic set. Each member took their turn making low-key mistakes. Being that they were never the most serious band around, the slight musical goofs were greeted by smiling band members and simply shrugged off. During the triumphantly closing rendition of “You And I,” vocalist Dan Schafer completely blanked on the last verse and simply tossed the mic to fans that knew the words better than him. The ever more intoxicated crowd didn’t seem to care very much, as they continued to awkwardly balance their beers and slam dance on hobbled knees.
One interesting moment came in the form of a surprise guest. Sludgeworth superfan/former alterna-rock poster boy and Ataris lead vocalist Kris Roe was in attendance and was singled out by Schafer to come on stage to help sing the group’s signature song “Someday.” Roe’s contribution to the song remained minimal however, as the mob singing at the front of the stage easily overpowered the PA.
The Roe incident was par for the course of the night, with the slightly thin but dedicated fans screaming over the PA to each song. Sludgeworth touched all the bases of their career, running through faster songs like “Another Day” and “Never Say Never,” mid-tempo jumper “Follow,” and even the overtly funk rock “Plunger.” As far as reunion shows go, Sludgeworth delivered the goods, albeit with some rough edges.
The reason why Sludgeworth started so late was The Effigies, who plodded through a bland and almost hour-long performance. Since reuniting for good in 2004, the stock of The Effigies has plummeted to almost bargain-basement level; no more than 30 people watched them play,while most others went outside to smoke. Though their 2007 comeback record Reside is above average, it’s not nearly powerful enough to dominate the set list as it did Friday, when seven of the 10 songs made an appearance. Even the classic material like “Security” and “We’re Da Machine” seemed to fizzle in the context of an uninspired band playing to an apathetic crowd.
Opening the show was the Magnafux, who no doubt were on the bill because they feature 3/5 of Sludgeworth. At heart, the Magnafux are a bar rock band that happen to play punk rock; it keeps the mood light, never challenges the audience, and most importantly, helps the bar sell more drinks.