Squad 5-0. The Kills. Eastern Youth. The Gadjits. The Exit. The Ghost.
So many fests would kill to have a lineup like this.
For the Fireside Bowl, it's a typical Friday night.
After plowing through horrendous traffic, my companion Danielle and I entered the hallowed halls of the Fireside right before openers Squad 5-0 were going to perform. Now, I'll be honest: I had never heard the band but had automatically pigeonholed them because they were on Tooth & Nail Records. They quickly set me straight, raging through a half hour of their rock and roll diddies. Imagine Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones fronting a more experimental version of the Ramones. Garage rock at it's best. Their set got a little long-winded, as the songs started to blend into one another, but they were more than a competent opener. I would go see them again sometime, which is one of the best compliments you can give to a band.
Next up was the Kills. The Kills, for those of you who don't have your ear to the tracks, is Alison from Discount's new band. And if you're going to see them expecting more poppy emotional punk, think again. Discount, it ain't. Imagine a more experimental version of the White Stripes [it was just Alison and a guy] with horrible stage presence and no charisma. It was depressing, to say the least. Some of the songs were good, but all were too long, in my opinion.
The show had hit it's first mini-slump. Who could turn it around? Why not a power trio from Tokyo, Japan? Eastern Youth set up and completely rocked the crowd senseless for the next 30 minutes. I was amazed to see how much the crowd got into their music, since it was all sung in Japanese. Their singer definitely knows how to wail, and his vocal range seemed to be infinite. The band played 2 tracks off their new split CD with Cursive which was nice, since I actually knew those songs. Everybody, go see Eastern Youth! You will not be disappointed.
Danielle and I were 3 hours into the show, and were starting to feel the effects of working all day and such. What better band to turn us around than the Gadjits? The rock and soul revival began as soon as they soundchecked, and didn't stop until close to an hour later. The band would just play song after song without any breaks in between, tuning on the fly and rocking without care. This band is the real rock and roll deal. Their setlist was as follows:
Shine, One Stones Throw From A Riot, Beautiful Girl, We Were Right, Optimism, Someday Driver, Sentimental Rubbish, This Girl, Nuthin, Ex-Ballerina, Talkin' Bout My Demographic
The Gadjits completely stole the show up to that point. Anything else would be icing on the cake. So who was next? The Exit. Their icing seemed to have gone a bit sour. I didn't really enjoy them at all. For all the positive press they're getting, I just didn't hear it. It sounded like boring and derivative dub-influenced punk rock. Not to mention that their last song of the set went on for about roughly 10 minutes. I have no problem with long songs, as long as they *go somewhere.* This one stayed in neutral. This was quite the letdown from the Gadjits' amazing set. Could the show be saved?
Yes it could. Transplanted Chicagoans the Ghost were the headliners, and while they were a bit under the weather, they still played a blistering set of "oldies" [off their debut album, "This Is A Hospital"] as well as some new tracks. They opened with album closer "Red Slippers Red Wheels," closed with album opener "Death By The Bay," and played tracks like "Diffuser" and "Gem Mint Ten" in between. No "By The Books," though, which bummed me out [3 times seeing them and I still haven't heard that song], but they still sounded tight as ever, and loud to boot. Their new guitar player Charlie hit virtually every guitar part spot-on, so kudos to him. The Ghost closed out the night with a bang, and it made me almost forget about the duds earlier in the night.
As we sped home, then got stuck in a random 12:30 AM traffic jam, then sped home some more, we reminisced about the show gone by. The Gadjits were by far the best band there, followed closely by the Ghost and Eastern Youth. Squad 5-0 made just enough of an impression on me to keep me interested in them, and the Exit and the Kills are now scratched off my "to see" list. All in all, it was a great show and if any of these bands come towards you, go out and support them.