Last Friday, I got off work early and headed straight for my bed. I wrapped up in the softest blanket I own, turned on Netflix, and passed out. Even though I had gotten back from La Escalera Fest days before, I was still exhausted… and smelly. I had decided that it would partake in some extreme indoor living over the weekend. Perhaps I would really get rowdy and move from the bed to the couch at some point. But around 7PM, I got a message letting me know that I was on the list for a show with an amazing lineup at Reggie’s. Never one to want to miss out on literally anything, I pulled my haggard ass out of bed and into the shower. Half an hour later, I was inside an already crowded venue prepping for a sold out show.
The first band to take the stage was The Eradicator. Sometimes performing with a live band and sometimes performing solo, The Eradicator is devoted to the classic Kids in the Hall sketch. Each and every song is about squash and how The Eradicator will climb the D-Squash ladder. From “Squash Queen” to “I’m A Squash Man”, you learn a lot about a sport that you never before really cared about. While I have seen this band a handful of times, something that is never consistent is how the crowd is going to react to a masked man in a pink shirt with white shorts screaming about his daily regimen – “Wake. Hydrate. Baby Aspirin. Squash a Pusshead. Stretch. Sleep. Repeat.” Tonight, the audience was filled with dudes in their 30s and 40s who were already drunk. The set started a little rough as they taunted and heckled. But, The Eradicator handled their heckling with ease and fired right back. This won over the crowd and by the end, everyone was cheering and talking about how it was a bizarre yet entertaining set.
Next up was Flamingo Nosebleed. I just saw these dudes a few weeks ago, but I can never get enough. With their melodic pop punk, they are the perfect compliment to Teenage Bottlerocket. While their set remained mostly the same as the last time I saw them, I was never bored. And from what I could see, the crowd wasn’t either as they pogoed, pitted and sang along. There is always one thing that I never seem to get over every time I watch these guys. As FxNx pummels their way through their songs at record speed, there is always a moment where lead singer/guitarist Jake says, “Now we’re gonna play some fast ones” before exploding into three back to back bangers. Even though I know it’s coming, I always end up thinking to myself, “Fast ones? What the hell were all those other ones then?!” Awesome fast and fun pop punk from Fort Wayne, IN.
Third to grace the stage were Chicago’s The Bollweevils. These guys put on a hell of a show whether they’re playing a larger stage like that of Reggie’s or somewhere much smaller and more intimate like Liar’s Club. It also doesn’t seem to matter how much room there is onstage, singer Daryl Wilson will rocket himself into the air nearly anywhere. Every time I looked up there seemed to be a bottle of Maker’s Mark that kept making its way into the audience via guitarist Ken. Bassist Pete Mittler was relatively quiet and seemingly focused (re: drunk) during the whole of the set. But, he didn’t need to verbalize much because he shirt said it all. The sleeveless black shirt proclaimed SMOKE CRACK & STEAL. The other Pete, Mumford, kept time on the drums throughout like a beast, always with the most charming smile on his face. Despite Daryl’s practically 7 foot tall stature, he continued to dive into the crowd to both sing and surf. Those in the audience did their best to keep him afloat. And just when I thought the set could not get any better, the band invited fans onstage to help sing along to “999 Stoney”. Along with members of the audience, both Denis Buckley (88 Fingers Louie) and Brendan Kelly (Lawrence Arms) jumped onstage, grabbed mics and sang along. You know those video clips of people saying that their city is the best in the world, usually in some sort of thick accent? This was truly one of those moments that made me proud to be living in Chicago, the best city with the best music scene in the world. (Now read that in whatever you think a Chicago accent sounds like).
By this time, whatever remaining exhaustion that I had left in me was gone. Every band so far had been so energetic and enjoyable, the memory of my bed covered in blankets with Forensic Files reruns running in the background was a distant memory. Teenage Bottlerocket took the stage to crowd cheers, screams and a sudden rush forward that brutally crushed my body in ways that I haven’t had to deal with since I was forced to play competitive sports in high school. I’ve been lucky enough to see the band at a myriad of venues over the years. But, I always think that bigger is better when it comes to these dudes. Miggy’s power stance alone probably spans 5 feet. There were lofty jumps, a one finger balancing of a bass guitar, and that famous move of using the guitar as a “gun” a la Sid Vicious. The only time the crowd calmed down in either sound or body is when Ray thanked everyone for being there and said that he felt his late brother Brandon’s spirit in the room. In tribute, Ray took on the infamous “1-2-3-4” count as an intro to the songs. TBR played a good amount off of 2012 release Freak Out along with “Be Stag”, “Skate or Die”, and of course “Blood Bath at Burger King”. And from the continual crushing of my ribs, it seemed like the 399 people that were standing behind me in the sold out venue, were having the best time. As the band walked offstage, I peeled my shirt from my body, sticky with stranger sweat. As I waited my turn to be funneled outside, a sudden and familiar wave of exhaustion returned. I rushed through my goodbyes and figured that I would see anyone I missed on social media (or at least photos of their food or pets). Overall, this was a great show with a lineup full of heavy hitters but Forensic Files awaited and I once again rushed home to my bed.