When The Lawrence Arms announced they were going to release We are the Champions of the World – a best of collection, we were also blessed with a tour announcement in support of the record. The Lawrence Arms with Red City Radio and Sincere Engineer, that’s a really fucking good tour! But of course there was a little asterisk on the Chicago date. Red City Radio would not be playing Chicago. God damn it. But the Lawrence Arms would never leave their fans hanging and must have left a trail of tater tots and Jucy Lucy’s E.T. style to lure Banner Pilot to The Metro. That’ll do, pig.
I blinked twice and 2 months went by.
Kendra came over to our apartment and we drank shitty flavored vodka and Jameson until it was too late to catch the bus to The Metro. Typical us. The good news was that we hoped in a Lyft and got over to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood with enough time to spare to run into Gman and take a $2 shot of Blackberry flavored Rumple Minze. We ran into Jim Michalik, who was reluctant to join us until we started chanting his name. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that a good name chant will make anyone do almost anything. I took the shot and realized why he was so hesitant. It was fucking gross. Unlike the Rump’s minty brethren, the Bberry Minze was not chilled. I bet with a good freeze it would be tolerable, but what can you expect for two bucks?
Out of time, we ran over to The Metro to catch the opening moments of Sincere Engineer’s set. Up until now, Deanna Belos had been playing solo on this tour. But since this was a hometown show, she was joined by her full band. I’m going to go ahead and say I love this band. Usually I have a weird gestation period when I hear new music. But when I first heard Rhombithian, it was love at first listen. Seeing them play live is even better as you get to fully experience the endearing and charming awkwardness that is Deanna onstage. Tonight was the tightest I have seen them play yet; they really have come a very long way since I saw them play their album release show back in November of last year. Chicago has definitely taken notice as well – The Metro was already fucking packed. I even heard a guy who was standing at the bar, back turned to the stage, say he thought they were “okay” as he took another sip of his $14 cocktail.
As much as I love Sincere Engineer and The Lawrence Arms, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t most excited to see Banner Pilot. Since the departure of guitarist Corey Ayd and arrival of Jeff Matika all the way back in 20fucking14, Banner Pilot has been on pretty meager rations. Unfortunately, the playing once a year deal has not been very kind to them. I absolutely love this band and I really enjoyed watching them play, but they also kind of sounded like shit. They got better as their set went on. And by the time they made it to the end and played “Intervention” they seemed back to old form. But man, it was a rough fucking start. Rust or not though, it was very tight to see Banner Pilot out in the world, playing to a massive crowd. They have promised in the past they are working on new stuff, and I am very ready for the Banner Pilot resurgence.
We ran over to Gman to grab a quick drink before The Lawrence Arms took the stage and somehow The Metro managed to get even more packed while we were gone. I ran upstairs as I heard “The Slowest Drink” begin, when I ran into a friend at the top of the stairs. I went in for the hug and the “how’ve you been?” when one of those cocktail waitresses was bumped and spilled an entire tray of drinks on all of us. It’s rant time: look, I get what The Metro is trying to do, but having waitresses bringing drinks into the crowd for people is the stupidest fucking idea ever. Part of the show going experience has always been if you can’t go a couple of hours without a shitty $10 Coors Light, well then you lose your spot when you go to the bar. But now with these motherfuckers bringing drinks into the crowd, Mr. I’m-going-to-livestream-the-entire-fucking-show has free range to stand right there hugging the barricade, broadcasting their shitty video to their ten friends while blocking everyone’s view. Not to mention how fucking distracting it is when the waitress comes pushing through the crowd holding up that fucking tray. Not a fan. But I got a free shot of Malort as a kind of “sorry, but still kind of fuck you” and continued my night a little bit stickier than I already was.
Anyway, The Lawrence Arms was great! Out-of-towner Jason Thinh and I went in search of a spot to watch the show, wandering the entire outskirts of the venue looking, but there was nothing. The sold out crowd was packed in what surely had to be some sort of fire hazard. We settled on just standing in the very back of the place where we could catch slivers of Neil Hennessy and Brendan Kelly from time to time, until Kendra emerged from the dense crowd with a hot lead on a good spot. The front right area had a small pocket of unoccupied room that could accommodate us all. We followed Kendra and her camera, pushing through the people to the spot that for whatever reason is always fucking open. The Lawrence Arms barreled through a set that could be best described as a condensed version of We are the Champions of the World featuring “The YMCA down the Street from the Clinic,” which we drunkenly did the ‘YMCA’ dance to the entire time. It was exhausting. When the band left the stage I immediately began bitching about how dumb encores are, and when they came back and played two more songs, started bitching about the encore only being two songs long. You just can’t please me. Spoiler alert: they ended up playing “100 Resolutions.” Whew! That was a close one.
After the show, Kaylin and I tried to get into Gman for ‘one more drink’ but it was so crowded we could hardly make it past the door, so we settled on the Midwest silver: a trip across the street to Wrigleyville Dogs for a hot dog and some fries. A very solid alternative and I really didn’t NEED any more Blackberry Rumple Minze**.
*Red City Radio will return to Chicago at Riot Fest presents: Smoking Popes present: Live from the Rock Room Fest day one featuring Smoking Popes, Red City Radio, The Dopamines, and Kali Masi on Friday May 11th at the Bottom Lounge and we will see you there!