Raise your hand if you’ve ever had the ‘ultimate lineup’ conversation with your friends. You know that one; the “Oh man, it would be so fucking cool if all these bands played the same show together…but it will never happen” game you play while nerding about music and sipping on tallboys. Well fear not hopeless dreamers, sometimes those wishes come true. When The Menzingers announced that they were hitting the road in support of the release of After the Party with DIY legend/my biggest man-crush Jeff Rosenstock and everyone’s favorite Hawaiian shirt enthusiasts Rozwell Kid, I was overcome with a joy only comparable to running downstairs Christmas morning to that present that’s obviously shaped like your first bike.
Like any good Metro show, the evening started out with pregame drinks at the bar next door. The saving grace of Wrigleyville, the G-Man is a punk rock oasis in a desert of the sports bars, the collard shirts, and the khaki pants that bro down in the square miles around the Cubs’ stadium. It’s also a bar where you can walk into any night of the week and find friends. After a quick Chicago Handshake (a shot of Malort with an Old Style tall can) with my good friend and photographer Mat Stokes and we went upstairs to our friend’s apartment to suck down a few higher ABV beers courtesy of Great Lakes Brewing. Bouncing around like an alcohol-fueled pinball, I ran back downstairs for more shots of Malort and to hand out high fives like Halloween candy before heading over to the venue.
Though I’ve been burned before by pushing my pre-show drinking until the last possible second, the stars aligned this night and I walked in to the opening chords of Rozwell Kid’s set. If you haven’t listened to Rozwell Kid, do yourself the favor. If you’ve listened to Rozwell Kid but still haven’t seen them live, you are fucking up. They put on one of the tightest and most entertaining sets in music. Ripping guitars? Check. Catchy hooks? Check. Windmills? You bet your sweet ass. They blazed through gems like “Sick Jackets”, “Birthday Sombrero”, and “Baby’s First Sideburns” before giving us a taste of their new album. They tell us the name, but with a chorus that howls “All I want is to be at home with you/ eating tacos and watching UHF on DVD” I already know what track I’m going to have on repeat. Calling it now: this will be on everyone’s 2017 Top 10 list and will propel Rozwell into the spotlight they deserve.
I was already starting to lose my voice after singing straight through their set, so I ventured upstairs to sooth my strained vocal chords the only way I know how… with high proof whiskey. The best part about Menzingers’ shows is that they are like a punk family reunion. Everyone is there and every time you turn around they’re offering you a drink. Our crew doubled in size as we ran into some of our Fest friends from Florida (say that three times fast) and we decided we needed to ‘bump the rump’. This put us over the edge and nearing the blackout portion of the evening. Good thing there were two more hours of music ahead of us…
As Jeff Rosenstock took the stage, I bolted downstairs in the hopes that I could get a little closer and find friends to hang arm in arm with as belted out some off key jams. This wish was granted almost immediately when I ran into yet another group of friends. If I believed in fate, this would be one of those moments. Jeff and the boys, including Dan from MU330 jumping in on bass duties, ripped through almost the entirety of 2016’s release Worry. Scattered throughout the set were some of the highlights for the slightly-less-incredible-but-still-pretty-great album We Cool? Closing out with “You, in Weird Cities” was a stellar choice and left everyone buzzing and ready for more liquor, I mean, The Menzingers to take the stage.
I would now like to take the time for a brief confession: I did not like After the Party. It lacks what I love about punk; it lacked solid BANGERS. What are bangers? Bangers are the jamz. They are what MC5 kicked out in 1969. They are the songs you turn all the way up and scream at the top of your lungs. The Menzingers have made a career based on bangers. Maybe their banger tank is running on empty? Either way, I just don’t really hear any on After the Party. As such, I knew my interest in their heavily new material set was fully dependent on the amount of alcohol I consumed during the 20 minute set change. Luckily for me my balcony crew was still in full force. The Rump was bumped, immediately followed by more shots of Malort. I could tell by the glassy look in my companions’ eyes that we were in full swing and things were getting hazy in a hurry.
After their second song, “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” (note: BANGER) I got another beer and started to wander. My plan was to walk around during the new songs and hopefully latch on to a friend by the time they played something else. I found my friend Laura just as they started “Good Things” and tranistioned into “Burn After Writing” (note: MORE BANGERS). I would later wake up to find a massive marijuana gummy in my vest pocket and wonder where the fuck it came from. Thanks, Laura! As “Bad Catholics” started up, I departed and headed back to the bar for what were becoming increasingly unnecessary alcohol purchases. They then tore into a one-two punch of banger furry with “Rodent” into “My Friend Kyle” (hey, that’s me!) and it was at that point I decided that I’d had enough of being crammed into a twenty-year-old venue like a black denim sardine. Also, I needed a cigarette before I actually died. (Please keep in mind that the order of this show was pieced together via setlistfm as I was too drunk to remember when things were played.)
The cool night air was a huge relief, as the Metro had started to become a little ripe after hours of booze soaked sweating on a packed floor full of people who could stand to shower more frequently than they currently do. While smoking outside, a group came up to me and we started to talk about food. One of the girls asked if I wanted a snack and pulled a doggie bag of cheese curds out of her purse. Remember when I said wishes were being granted this night? Well free purse curds from a stranger are pretty much a dream come true for Drunk Kyle! Naturally I had to invite these fine folks/outstanding citizens/cheese enthusiasts into the G-Man for a round of drinks. While they were likely the most expensive cheese curds I’ve ever had, after ‘paying’ 4 beers for them, they were the most memorable and completely worth it. It’s at this point where the brownout started to kick in, so we’ll wrap this up with a highlight list:
- Drank $40 worth of alcohol, which is hard to do when all beers are $4
- Took care of my severely blacked out friend by handing him off to another intoxicated friend who immediately lost him
- Got a gyro which i ate in nothing but boxers and a bathrobe while watching cartoons in my living room
- Roommate walked into the apartment mid-gyro, shaking head and handing me a fresh beer
- Woke up in the morning confused by satisfied
Good show. 10/10 would do again.