Restorations/ Hard Girls/ Chris Farren - Live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Restorations / Hard Girls / Chris Farren

Live in Chicago (2015)

live show

I arrived at Schuba’s Tavern in Chicago early on Saturday, found throngs of St. Patrick’s Day revelers, and wondered if I was in the right place. There were rich, young drunks in green everywhere. Soon enough, the tavern seamlessly transitioned between party and show, and their venue portion ended its live band karaoke and filtered out drunken hangers-on back into the main bar to set up for the show. I killed time in the sit-down restaurant in another part of Schuba’s (this place really does it all), until the doors opened at 9:30.

Due to logistics, I had to miss the stellar Cheap Girls/ Restorations/ Hard Girls/ Chris Farren lineup a month earlier, but luckily, Chris Farren tagged along for a few extra shows and was added to the beginning of this bill. Farren came out in a suit, made a joke about drinking "the greenest beer they've got" (a bottle of O’Douls), and proceeded to play six strong solo numbers on his Gretsch. He did a fair mix of Antarctigo Vespucci, Fake Problems, and solo songs, even including a new song and an egg-shaker duet with Hard Girls’ Morgan Herrell. The crowd was surprisingly receptive to the quiet and often moody styling of the singer-songwriter, and there was a good deal of quiet sing-along from the crowd. Farren was his usual humorous self between songs, and it made for a more engaging opener than usual.

San Jose’s Hard Girls took the stage next and was met with a little more crowd enthusiasm. After a brief introduction, they ripped right through the first four tracks from last year’s A Thousand Surfaces. The band had been on top of my need-to-see list since its release, and they did not disappoint. They hit all of their frantic and fast-paced songs right on point, and bassist/ singer Herrell upped the excitement with his animated, arm-flailing performance. They made a hell of a lot of sound for a three piece, and used effects pedals, precisely intricate drumming and the dual vocal attack of Herrell and Huguenor to fill up the room. They included a few old numbers and a brand new track alongside a Surfaces-heavy song list for a memorable set.

Headliners Restorations finally came out around 11:30. By this time, the crowd had filled out to near capacity, but when the first song kicked in, there still wasn’t a whole lot of crowd movement. They played nearly flawless renditions of songs off LP3 and LP2 to a crowd of primarily head-bobbing, pensive punks. Minor guitar issues seemed to plague them throughout the set, and I got a general sense of tour burnout from the band, especially from lead singer Jon Louden. They just looked flat-out tired. But they were grateful, supportive of the venue and other bands, and played the longest set I’ve ever seen them play. After ten songs, Louden said, “I don’t much care for encores, but that’s all the songs on the list. Any you guys would like to hear?” Restorations played two more before calling it a night.

If Restorations is "punk music for grownups," then this Saturday night in Chicago was exactly how I’d imagine a punk show for grownups. The crowd was respectfully standstill, silently polite during quiet song segments, and not excessively drunk. There was minimal movement and an entire absence of moshing or jumping around. For some, this show would be a boring bust. Maybe I'm getting old, but I found it a much more enjoyable, stress-free way to see some of the most distinctive voices in punk music put on a fantastic show. Well done, boys.

Set Lists:

Hard Girls

The Quark
Sign of the Dune
996 Tears
Hot for the Halo
Die Slow
New Song- Dulcet Tones?
Flying Dream
Deep Gulch
Thenar Space


New Old
Most Likely A Spy
The Future
Civil Inattention
Tiny Prayers
Let’s Blow Up The Sun
All My Home
Separate Songs