Here will be the theme of this show review:
old jaded punk's friend scores free tickets to a Queers show in Chicago. Jaded guy has to watch a bunch of bands he has never heard of and will thusly comment. Ready?
From Sweden, the Bones took the stage first. They played stripped-down garage rock with great hooks, falling somewhere in between AC/DC and the Riverboat Gamblers. Good set, too many guitar solos, but lots of easy to pick up on choruses. They played for about 30 minutes. The kids didn't seem to care too much until Joe Queer came out and joined them for a cover of "I Wanna Be Sedated." Something that I guess sort of looked like a pit formed and the Overly Efficient Security Guard™ ejected his first group of idiot mall punk victims of the day for throwing bottles or something.
Before the next band took the stage, the sound guy put on the Misfits' greatest hits record. Kids were singing loudly to the tape. This is important to note for the next band.
Hey, you guys remember Jesse Camp, that scrawny and annoying MTV VeeJay who was real big for about 3 weeks then disappeared forever? Yeah, well someone handed him some eyeliner and black hair dye and he formed a new band. The Black Haloes played muddy mid-tempo rock with bad screechy vocals courtesy of Mr. Camp. He flailed around the stage ripping off every Mick Jagger move and posing terribly. He also requested that the crowd do more "pitting." At this point, my ride and I finally got the joke and enjoyed these five fellows making total asses of themselves. 20 minutes later, our faces were grim, because the joke went way past the breaking point. If I had to define "Mall Punk," it would be the Black Haloes. They looked like every other band that outfits itself at Hot Topic and even provided anti-Hot Topic stage banter between songs! How punk! Oh yeah, and they never broke from their mid-tempo dirge, leading to a near 40-minute set of the same song. They ended with a Misfits cover (minus 10,000 points for that), playing "Where Eagles Dare" (minus an extra million points for covering the same Misfits song as every other high school band) which stunningly, was the LAST SONG PLAYED BY THE SOUND GUY BEFORE THESE IDIOTS TOOK THE STAGE. Yeah…when the Black Haloes were walking onto the stage, the kids were singing quite audibly, "I ain't no Goddamn sonnovabitch!"...then they covered it. Their set was so terrible, it wasn't even funny.
P.S. Their merch table sold skateboard decks bearing their logo for $60. Sixty Fucking Dollars! Who the fuck brings an extra $60 to a show, and better yet, wants to lug a goddamn skate deck around the whole show? "Yeah, this band is great man…you mind holding my fucking coffee table here so I can dance?"
For some reason, I thought these guys were a ska band. Don't ask me where I got that impression, because I have never heard anything by this band before. They set up horns, and I immediately warmed up to them, figuring they would finally break the mid-tempo mood set by the first two bands and play some third wave ska. They opened with a slow intro thing and then tore into the first real song. These guys had a lot of energy at the start of their set and for that I will give them credit. That is the only credit I will give them, mind you. Their singer looked and dressed like Billy the Kid from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and couldn't sing to save his fucking life. I will have to chalk that up to being on tour for 3 months, as I'm sure as hell not wasting my time downloading anything this band has put out to check for sure. Their horn section for some reason tried to share a mic, which led the trombone to drown out the sax guy completely…not that the horns added anything musically to the band anyway. The horn section played mostly low notes in random spots, never really adding anything to the rest of the band who played simple blues riffs while Herman the Kid screeched. The band's energy ran out near the fourth song, drastically reducing their stage presence. Oh yeah, did I mention that Herman the Kid is a total asshole? I guess he felt like talking shit to some kid in the crowd, calling him (and I'm totally serious) "A fucking faggot" over the P.A. He went on to make AIDS jokes and rape jokes during the rest of the set. He also threw the mic (like to injure someone, not for singing purposes) into the crowd. Wow, this guy is punk - so punk that if he tried that shit at a real show, where he wasn't surrounded by a legion of tone-deaf trustfund Hot Topic employees, he'd probably be shown the door and not asked to return. Someone needs to take this clown to see a Dropdead show. The River City Rebels demonstrated how fucking terrible mainstream punk has gotten. 'Nuff said.
Oooh, a surprise set by Ben Weasel's new band! I'll keep this short - they played Queers songs minus the fun attitude and catchy lyrics. They were really sloppy too; Ben and the keyboardist couldn't hit a harmony all night. The crowd didn't even buy this crap even though Ben might as well be the fucking mayor of Chicago. As my ride said, "If that band played anywhere outside of Chicago, they would have been booed off stage."
Opened with "Rock And Roll Radio" and played all the favorites. The Queers are so predictable in their live shows: 30+ songs with minimal stage banter. The kids ate this shit up and I did too. Highlights: they played "Mirage" and it came off really well despite not having a rhythm guitarist. I about died laughing when Joe looked like he was about to tear Jesse Camp's face off when Jesse drunkenly commandeered Joe's mic during "Rockaway Beach."
P.S. My favorite part about seeing the Queers is trying to list songs that they didn't play that night. I can count about 12.
P.P.S. Major props to Queers live drummers. If you don't think that shit is hard, try playing Don't Back Down
, Love Songs For The Retarded
and A Day Late And A Dollar Short
back-to-back-to-back with no pauses in between songs.
Despite the Queers rocking, this show was fucking terrible. I have compiled some suggestions for you kids for doing shows correctly.
Things that mainstream punk could learn from going to an actual DIY show:
- Spitting or throwing water into the crowd is punishable by death. Knock it the fuck off.
- Your stupid security guard is totally unnecessary. At DIY shows, the fans themselves will police the shows. If someone is being a dick, we remove them.
- Get the shows out of clubs and into basements. If the show is too big for a basement, book out a VFW or similar banquet hall where you can set your own rules. Clubs with "no moshing, dancing or having fun that doesn't involve buying our overpriced drinks are prohibited" can eat a bag of dicks.
- Foreign bands get the best slot…period. They have plane tickets and a host of other shit to pay for on tour so they should get maximum exposure. Your local bands can play here anytime, so why does the foreign band have to open the show?
- SHORTER SETS.
- Share the music gear so there isn't such a fucking lag between bands.
In closing, I would like to ask everyone who likes the River City Rebels and the Black Haloes to go see Seein' Red when they tour the US this summer - just so once in your life you will actually witness a real punk band at a real punk show.