The date was Saturday, March 30th. It was two days before the start of April, bringing about the news of Brittany Strummer’s death which seemed to bring my world (and the worlds of SO many of my friends) to a stand still. It was two days before the start of the hardest month of 2019 which seemingly just kept pummeling myself and my friends with heart shattering, life altering news.
But it was March 30th, and not yet April. So Mat and I headed downtown in good spirits. We never seem to know exactly what we’re going to get when we go to a House of Blues show. Sometimes we’re on the list. Sometimes only one of us is listed. Sometimes neither of us can get in so we just go out drinking instead. But this time, we were on two lists. Double success! I guess heading down the street for drinks and Rossi’s would have to be saved for after the show,.
We entered the venue a song or two into Rat Boy‘s set. As we finished our ascent of the stairs, we were met with a dense wall of people. There were old punks with Social D back patches and some with small children in over-sized noise cancelling headphones adorning their shoulders. There were drunken early 20 somethings with mohawks. The crowd was diverse to say the least. We finagled our way through until we found a little nook where we could see at least part of the stage.
I knew nothing about Ray Boy going into the show. But a quick Google/Wiki search combo tells me that Rat Boy is the moniker of Jordan Cardy who is ten years my junior (23) and more talented at guitar than most people I’ve met who are twice his age. His description on the Epitaph website actually reads “RAT BOY first found (Tim) Armstrong’s punk/hip-hop band The Transplants in his father’s record collection.” Welp, color me old AF (not too old to know that internet slang though IRL LOL OMG amirite?).
On stage, a full band accompanied Jordan. The song played weren’t ‘punk’ by typical Hellcat/Epitaph standards. They’re the kind of songs that remind you of Summer. I know that’s a terrible description if you can’t instantly imagine that sound. They’re upbeat, bright, and catchy. They’re the kind of melodies that you ind yourself humming in the shower days later. They mix Hip Hop with the lighter side of Punk. It’s like a more fun version of The Transplants… but replacing Tim’s iconic ‘accent’ for Jordan’s… which is actually authentic. Mat and I gave the band a solid head nod of approval, which is like at least 4 out of 5 gold stars in Kendra and Mat at a Show speak.
Next up were those lovable marauders in Masked Intruder. I can no longer recall the amount of times I have seen MI live over the last seven or so years. Being at the crux of the Midwest, they always seem to be passing through playing some show or festival. So it’s safe to say that I have grown rather familiar with their live show and antics. The songs are perfectly executed and the band always seems ‘tour tight.’ Depending on the age allowance of the show, Officer Bradford strips to a g-string or a Borat-like mankini. And that is all fine and dandy, and I enjoy it, but I’ve seen it. For me, MI shows now have become more about watching other people become memorized by the band.
BUT tonight was different! The band informed that crowd that their bassist, Yellow, would not be joining them as he had been caught and was currently serving time in jail (#freeyellow). In his place was Purple, adorned with her black and purple bass and matching ski mask. All hail Purple, as her mere presence changed up the whole act! The songs were executed just as flawlessly as at other shows. But the energy of the four intruders and officer was like nothing I had ever seen.
I loved how Purple and Bradford interacted onstage. At one point, the burly cop picked her up and mounted her onto his shoulder (Check out the gallery for an amazing shot of this)! Mat and I later discussed how having a female band member actually dispels a good deal of the male pining energy that circulates in the earlier songs which, depending on your audience, may be heavily scrutinized more so in today’s culture than when it was written almost a decade ago. Another empowering moment was when they picked an audience member to assist with the singing of “Heart Shaped Guitar.” Again, it was a move I’ve seen over and over again, but this specific audience member (I’m so sorry. I forgot her name!) just fucking slayed. She gave it her all as she sang and danced. She also engaged with Blue and it was endearing and hilarious and perfect all at the same time. While some of the songs were new to me – I still haven’t sat down and listened to the band’s latest LP III– they of course played the more well-worn and beloved crowd-pleasers leaving the huge room with palpable energy.
Headlining the night was The Interrupters. The last time I caught the four-piece, they played the seemingly cavernous cement room at Chop Shop on the North Side of the city. However, that show was a distant memory compared to the sold out House of Blues show. They opened with “A Friend Like Me” and the hits just kept coming. The Interrupters is one of those bands where I feel like I know almost all the words to every song in their discography and yet I don’t own a single album. And onstage… they are a force to be reckoned with. I was enthralled by the coordinated jumps and overall energy at the Chop Shop show a few years ago. And tonight, they took that energy, expanded it to the enormous HOB stage and turned up the dial to 11.
You can check out the photo of the set list in the gallery if you’d like a play by play of the night. I won’t go into each moment here. But I will say that the absolute highlight of my whole evening was watching a young girl, who was probably around 10, standing up on a stool near me, being held up by her dad. She knew the words to every song and had accompanying dance moves to boot. There was just something about seeing such a young female sing “Fight like a title holder / Stand like a champion / Live like a warrior / And never let ’em break you down” that just let me know that the future may be okay after all.
Of course, there was an encore. There HAD to be; they hadn’t played “Kerosene” yet! And while fellow contributor Kevin is always salty about encores, I enjoyed it. Afterwards, Mat and I filed out of the House of Blues and down the street to Rossi’s, which was packed as always. As we discussed our normal topics – the show we just saw, music in general, dogs – other concert goers began to spill inside, one of which thought it was a good idea to play more Interrupters on the the Touch Tunes machine. All in all, it was a great evening and a fun show. 100% would do again, especially the part where I found fifteen cents in pennies in the street outside the bar.