Normally when you wake up and roll out of bed after a long night of partying, you have a handful of hours before you have to worry about any music related endeavors that you may have committed yourself to. But not today! Not on Gorilla Biscuits Metro Matinee Day! Too hungover to change out of the clothes I wore last night and fell asleep in, I zipped up my sweatshirt and hopped into a Lyft headed for the Metro.
After meeting up a the same rowdy crowd of Denver friends I was out with yesterday, we headed for a quick bite across the street at the famous Wrigleyville Dogs. It was here where I witnessed something I had never before seen in my life, and something I will never again forget. I watched my newest friend, Liz, remove the top and bottom bun of her hamburger and replace both with pizza puffs. Ho. ly. Shit. It was the most Chicago shit I had seen in sometime, especially from a Midwesterner who has abandoned us to live in New Orleans. After that public display of amazing, we sauntered back across the street to the GMan Tavern, of course, to grab a pre-show drink. I made it through about five leisurely sips of my cider before our group rallied up, chugged our drinks, and headed next door to the Metro.
We walked in just as True Love was finishing up. I found my favorite place in the venue, that one secret spot somewhere near the front that is somehow, magically, never crowded unlike the rest of the venue. It was time for Modern Life is War. Besides the fact that I have pondered the depths of their name on numerous occasions, I don’t think I have ever listened to the Iowa-based band, despite having numerous friends who always sing their praises (specifically our photographer Brian Santostefano). Welp, I’ve learned my lesson. They fucking rip. Vocalist Jeff Eaton took on the characteristics of a mad man as he thrashed and screamed onstage. The rest of the band was just as active, to the pure pleasure of the fans who had barreling themselves at the Metro’s stage at a record pace.
The room had exploded in pure chaos, much like I assume that hamburger pizza puff Frankenstein monster would explode later. The band opened with “First and Ellen” and then tore through songs mostly off Witness and Fever Hunting, with “Fuck the Sex Pistols” and “Feels Like End Time” off their latest EP release sprinkled in. They also played a cover of The Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown. While I usually need to be familiar with the band I’m watching to really feel connected to their set, that was thrown right out the window today. Modern Life is War put on one of the top performances I’ve seen this year, hands down, no questions asked, period, and other jargon used to show that I am resolute in my opinion.
And now the moment that we’d all been waiting for; it was time for Gorilla Biscuits. Now, the closest I ever got to seeing this band before was at the first show I ever went to when I was 11. The lineup was The Vandals and CIV opening for No Doubt. It was at a large outdoor amphitheater in the middle of nowhere Midwest. Admittingly, today was vastly different. The crowd consisted of older punks, some with children mounted atop their shoulders donning those giant protective headphones. Of course, there were younger members of the audience as well. These were the ones who crowd surfed to the stage, grabbed the mic, threw an arm over Anthony Civarelli and belted out the lyrics.
For the majority of Gorilla Biscuits’ set, I stood slack jawed in awe. From the moment the band took the stage to the moment they dished out their last set of ‘thank yous’ to the crowd, the room never lost an ounce of energy. Each song was an act in co-participation between the band and those in the audience. It was a truly amazing experience to behold. While so many pseudo-defunct punks bands have decided to reunite or reactivate as of late, I find most of their performances to come off as nothing more than a half-hearted cash grab. But, not this band and not today. Thirty some years later, and Gorilla Biscuits are still giving it their all.