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Show Review

The Fifth Annual War on Xmas: Night 3 – Lawrence Arms, Riverboat Gamblers, & Heart & Lung in Chicago, IL


I woke up Saturday morning feeling great, much to the chagrin of my girlfriend who has literally gotten debilitatingly hungover off of one beer before. We went and got diner at Umami Burger before the show, it was…okay. Decent burger, but it was real small and very expensive. Anyway, enough about burgers, we had a show to get to! Night 3 of the War on X-Mas, Holiday Office Party!

We made it into the Chop Shop towards the end of Heart & Lung. Look man, I’m trying real hard not to be a dick to opening bands, but they were playing some yawn-inducing run of the mill Midwest Pop Punk. None of the noise they were making stood out or was special. I missed Arms Aloft the night before in my drunken haze, but apparently not. So if you’re a fan of generic songs you’ve already heard a million times by a million other bands, Heart & Lung is right up your alley. Or maybe don’t be an asshole like me and give them a shot for yourself. I’ve been saying for years I’m getting burned out on music, here is exhibit ‘A.’

Speaking of boring, Riverboat Gamblers played next. But Kevin, Riverboat Gamblers aren’t boring! They rip! They have bangers! They slap! You’re right, but here’s my problem with this band, they have a GREAT live show. They are energetic and they are fun to watch. Mike Wiebe is a madman on stage, running all over the place, climbing on shit, jumping off of shit, sweating profusely, swinging microphones and somehow not taking out every other band member on stage. Every time Riverboat Gamblers’ name is on a show, I’m stoked about it. Just like tonight. They did kill it at War on X-Mas. But goddamn are their recorded records a snooze fest. I’ve tried for years and years and years to listen to this band outside of seeing them live, but it never seems to stick. In one ear and out the other. Judge, please see exhibit ‘B.’

Then there is The Lawrence Arms. Kaylin and I found a seat at the bar right outside the venue where we could hear and see them perfectly. Sitting down rules. Larry Arms flew through their set, sticking close to The Greatest Story Ever Told and Metropole, but sprinkling in other gems like “The North Side, The L&L, and Any Number of Crappy Apartments,” declaring this song mentions the name of the bar we are having the after party at tonight! Which was technically true, but only after Kendra Sheetz got a gang together to point out the original after party bar was at a place owned by some racist piece of shit. Anyway, since it was the last of War on X-Mas, that also meant the return of an encore! Yay! After being “Ramblin’ Boys of Pleasure,” The Arms came back for ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG! How do you simultaneously mark the end of another year and another WOX? With “100 Resolutions” for the next.

And for the second time in just as many months, I was reminded of the loss of Brittany Strummer.

Kendra, Kaylin, David, and I hopped in David’s friend Josh’s car and headed over to the aforementioned Official War on X-Mas after party bar, the decidedly un-racist L&L Tavern. Now, the L&L has a max capacity of around 40 or so people. This after party was announced to at least over 400 people. Needless to say, it was at capacity by the time we rolled up. Thankfully people were leaving left and right and soon enough we found ourselves inside, doing ‘Statue of Liberty’ shots and lighting each other on fire. But all parties must come to an end, and at about 2:30am I found myself with Kaylin, stumbling around Wrigleyville in a desperate search for pizza. The Fifth War on Myself was won.

Except I lost. I was sick as fuck for over a week.

Check out our Day 1 and Day 2 coverage while you’re either prepping for or nursing that New Year’s hangover!

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