In all my life I’ve never been to Chicago, and there has been a small group of people that have consistently given me shit about it. For the most part, it was just Brendan Kelly, who relentlessly regaled with me stories about late nights and questioned my loyalty as a friend. After no less than four years of this nonsense, I was due for a visit to the City Windy, and the Falcon’s first ever show seemed like the perfect reason to finally make the trip. Farther distances have been traversed to see shittier bands, no doubt.
Basically, the opening band was responsible for promoting the show and I was told they did some flyering, but aside from that, I’m not sure how anybody managed to find out about this show. I was starting to “get the drift” if ya know what I mean. These guys didn’t want to play in front of anyone for the first time, and this show was basically a secret/private affair. Of course I was dead wrong, because upon arrival to this warehouse space, the sidewalk was full of kids socializing outside the half-open sliding gate. More shocking were the abundant forties and 12-packs that were openly carried around on the street and inside the building. After milling around a bit (and outfitted with some cans of Hamm’s thanks to my pal Abi) I gathered that most of the people here just “heard about the show from a friend” or read a post about it on the Alkaline Trio message board. So I had another realization: we are in Chicago after all, people love these guys.
I was actually getting excited; I mean, a free punk show at a semi-abandoned warehouse space in a strange new town. And it’s BYOB! Well, enough of background, it was time for the opening band. They introduced themselves as Bad Sandwich and I was told they were also playing one of their first shows. It was some pretty sloppy thrash but they went over well with the locals and I think one of the members was from Los Crudos. The band spent half of their set dancing among the audience and their interactive show seemed a perfect fit for the chaotic circumstances. They played for 20 minutes, but they must’ve crammed a dozen songs into that time frame. Between bands someone was playing Bad Brains' Rock For Light on a boom box, which I thought was a nice touch of class.
No one seemed to be in a hurry, but by the time the Falcon finished setting up their own gear the place was abso-smurfly packed. I have been to some crammed shows, but there was probably 200+ people in a space smaller than the Bottom of the Hill in SF or the Offramp/Graceland in Seattle. I managed to wrangle a good spot close to the stage and off to the side so I wasn’t in danger of spilling any beers. I saw Brendan take one last haul off his brew before he took the stage (a foot-high platform made of particle board) and kids went ballistic. Without any announcements or tuning they went right into the first song off their EP, only to follow it up with the second song, which also has not one, but two ridiculously long titles, so it will have to go unmentioned. Once again I was reminded of how popular these guys are in Chicago because kids were rolling all over each other, singing every word, etc. Despite my precautionary efforts, I spilled my beer after all, and was nearly crushed against a wall.
They took a brief break after song 2, but it was only to stop for another drink. People were still screaming in applause until Brendan removed the tall-boy from his lips to say “We’re the Falcon from Chicago!” into the mic. From there, they went into their third song, which was a new one for all in attendance, but they still performed it with all the vigor and guts as their first two crowd-pleasers. They went on to play 9 songs total, all five from their EP and four “new” songs. One peculiar thing I observed was that even Danny was drunk off his ass, which is something I’ve never witnessed in all the years of seeing Trio shows. Overall, it was a sweaty and intense show, and the crowd was roiling the entire time. It was definitely one of those special and intimate experiences that don’t come along very often and I’m grateful that I was one the few to enjoy it. If Chicago had more of this kinda shit to offer, I’d be out there all the time! Maybe that was the problem all these years…
Anyhow, it should also be noted that I am the very person who released the Falcon EP, so it could be perceived that my review is biased and all that. But really, it was so small and unannounced that no one would ever document this occasion were it not for me. The last thing I would want to do would be to tarnish my own good name or the journalistic integrity of Punknews.org. That said, the show was fucking awesome.