New Year’s in my 30’s has been less getting blacked out drunk and waking up behind a dumpster and more asking everyone what their plans are until you fall asleep well before midnight. It’s just a thing that happens. Sure, last year I DJ’d the big La Escalera New Year’s bash at the Tower Bar in San Diego, but besides that, New Year’s has been pretty unremarkable. But I’m not in San Diego anymore, and Chicago had the answer to my New Year’s party woes with the Suicide Machines, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Direct Hit!, and Rebel Spies coming to town to usher in 2018.
After meeting up with Kendra and David, and a quick trip to Justin Schweir’s awesome New Year’s house party, we made it to Reggie’s just in time for Chicago’s The Eradicator. If you somehow don’t know by now, The Eradicator is a band that takes their gimmick from an old Kids in the Hall sketch about a squash player who calls himself The Eradicator. So naturally, all the songs are about squash. Normally, I fucking HATE gimmick bands. It’s usually fun at first, but it wears super thin super fast. But I haven’t gotten tired of The Eradicator’s shtick yet. Between the squash court sound effects playing between songs, to talking shit on every sport, to dropping the mic and jumping off stage to ‘catch his cab’ after the set, I’m still laughing and enjoying myself. And honestly, in this “sometimes too serious for its own good” scene, you need some goofy fucking band that can make you laugh.
We ran to the upstairs after the set to say hey to our buddies Jennie Cotterill and Myra Gallarza from Bad Cop / Bad Cop. It was good to see some old California friends in the Windy City. They hooked it up and took us backstage to the dungeon-like green room where we got to chat a bit and catch up over a half a bottle of Jameson. I missed Rebel Spies, an act that is akin to treason in Chicago apparently, but there were five bands playing so it’s a goddamn miracle I only missed one.
A band I wouldn’t dare miss, Direct Hit!, kicked off their set with their cover of Cock Sparrer’s “We’re Coming Back” then going directly into “Paid in Brains.” Reggie’s was beginning to fill up with the tru-p0nx and pop-punks alike and Direct Hit! was there to build a bridge between them. Even the balding older dude who had no business rocking liberty spikes couldn’t help dancing around as Nick Woods threw down his guitar and screamed out the new hardcore closer “Nothing,” ultimately ending the night puking onstage. Crust Punk achievement unlocked.
I ran outside to smoke a cigarette and meet my girlfriend Kaylin and her dad. Yeah, she brought her dad to the punk rock show. Fuck yeah, 2018! The always awesome Bad Cop / Bad Cop was up next and I got to watch in joy as the ladies and their mighty three-part harmonies impressed Kaylin’s dad, a veteran Rock and Roll fan. I caught him a couple times filming songs on his phone, and afterwards he exclaimed, “Damn! That drummer really beats the shit out of those drums!” Suck it, Lars Ulrich. Bad Cop stuck mostly to songs off their new album, Warriors, showing everyone in the crowd what they are capable of with Linh, Jennie, and the clearly sick Stacey** switching off on vocal duties. 2017 was a hell of a year for Bad Cop, and it was really cool to literally see it all culminate on stage at Reggie’s in Chicago.
I’m not a big Suicide Machines fan, and if I’m being completely transparent, I have never even listened to them. Literally all I know, or I guess all that I think I know is that they are a ska band and they are from Detroit. One of those ‘facts’ might not even be true. So I will let my girlfriend Kaylin Thompson, a Suicide Machines fan, take over:
For me, seeing Suicide Machines this New Year’s was something my 13-year-old self would have been jealous of. I really don’t know why it took me so long to see them, but getting the chance at Reggie’s with Direct Hit! and Bad Cop / Bad Cop was worth the wait. As you can expect, it being New Year’s Eve, I don’t remember a whole lot from their set. But I do remember taking a free shot of Malört with my dad from the bar as they took the stage in the new year. I remember in the middle of “SOS” wondering where Kevin was. I remember it was great seeing my dad having a good time to songs I listened to as a teenager. And I remember hearing most of the songs I really wanted to hear off Destruction by Definition before I noticed Kevin standing there asking me and my dad if we wanted to go hang out backstage.
What had happened was, before Suicide Machines started, I had to pee. I was already towards the front of the venue, and instead of trying to fight my way to the bathrooms, I decided to run downstairs to use the dungeon green room bathroom. When I was waiting in line, another dude lined up behind me who I could tell he was in a hurry, so I let him go in front of me. Turns out it was Jason Navarro, singer of Suicide Machines. When I came out of the bathroom, I was handed a glass of champagne by Nick Woods as everyone did kind of an estimated countdown to midnight. That’s when I realized for the second year in a row, I missed another New Year’s kiss from my girlfriend. I was handed a shot of Malört from the bar and watched a handful of songs from Suicide Machines before I decided to try and impress my girlfriend’s dad by getting them backstage too. It was fun to watch him talk sports with Danny and Steve from Direct Hit! while I took turns chugging Jameson straight out of the bottle with everyone else.
We ended the night by heading to the Oakwood Bar for a nightcap with Kendra and David. We had a couple more before we realized that it was way too late and we were all way too tired to still be out drinking like we were in our 20’s. 2018 was going to start out fucking rough, but god damn it did we have a good time getting there.
** As Kevin states above, Stacey was very ill on NYE. Since, she has been taken to the hospital, diagnosed with sepsis, and has had an abscess removed. If you would like to donate to Stacey’s medical costs, you can either purchase Stacey Dee shirts through Anxious and Angry‘s website or you can donate directly through a Go Fund Me account. All profits from the shirts will be going directly to Stacey. Please do what you can to help a friend and musician in need.