Jughead's 50th Birthday Bash - Live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Jughead's 50th Birthday Bash

Live in Chicago (2017)

live show

Last November, my regular show partner and longtime friend and I went to Chicago to see a Screeching Weasel 30th anniversary show. While we were there, we picked up tickets for Jughead’s 50th Birthday Bash featuring The Mopes, The Lillingtons, The Manges and Even In Blackouts. Jughead, along with Ben Weasel obviously, founded SW in suburban Chicago way back in 1986. The two of them were the only constants in the band’s original 15 or so year run. The two shows combined felt like a culmination of all my years of Screeching Weasel fandom. Unfortunately, the previously mentioned friend had some work issues and had to back out a little more than a week before the show. Being a responsible adult can really suck sometimes. I know he was dying to see The Lillingtons.

Attending the show required an overnight stay in Chicago and missing at least most of a day of work on Monday. I considered taking one of my kids, but it was 18 . Mrs.Trauma was also not able to accompany me, but didn’t really want me to go alone. Luckily, I was able to convince my sister to join me for a little adventure. It’s sort of poetic justice since it was her then boyfriend that turned me onto SW all those years ago. It was through him that I first heard the then just released Wiggle. It really had an impact on me and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. All my sister ever got from him was a now college aged daughter who’s into EDM. *Shudder!*

My sister and I used to go to shows together pretty regularly when we were young, back in the early to mid 90’s. I was sad to learn that she had mostly given it up a decade or so ago. (Adulthood again!) I was even sadder to learn that the last show she had seen was Disturbed and Rob Zombie. (Another shudder!) Maybe this would do her some good. She used to have pretty good taste. (In music, not men.) The sold out show was at Reggies on the Southside of Chicago on Sunday February 19th. I had tried to secure tickets to the same show in the much cozier confines of Jughead’s basement the night before, but I was unable. I love Reggies, so this was a nice consolation prize.

Our three hour trip was uneventful, so we were at the next door bar/restaurant Music Joint portion of Reggies drinking Old Style tallboys by 5 PM. By the time we made our way to the Rock Club about 7 PM, we were full of dinner and beer. The club was even fuller than we were. It was packed when Even In Blackouts came on a few minutes later. I must admit that I’ve never really listened to EIB. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed their 40 minute set. It reminded me of punky 80’s new wave. Lead singer Liz Eldrege has a strong and quirky voice that really made her stand out on this male dominated bill. Jughead was wearing a shirt that said ‘I’M NOT JOHN JUGHEAD’ and was thrashing away in his traditional Johnny Ramone stance. He’s not very tall to begin with, so when he spreads his legs so far apart you can mostly just see his head bobbing around. Even In Blackouts definitely got things off to a rollicking start.

Next up was The Manges, all the way from Italy. For those of you who don’t know, these guys are Ramones worship in its purest form. All the details are there - from the way they dress, to the instruments they play, to the way the bass player starts every song with a 1-2-3-4. I really like these guys and they played my favorite of their songs, “I Tried To Die Young”. Jughead joined the boys on guitar for “I’m a Monkey” and “My Rifle”. He came back out later in a Ronald Reagan mask (his shirt gave him away) with a sign that read ‘ALL IS WELL’ during “Lone Commando/All is Well”. It was reminiscent of when the Ramones used to have a guy in a gorilla costume dance around with the ‘HEY! HO! LET'S GO!’ sign. The Manges even managed to sneak in a cover of “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment”. I think they played something like 18 songs in their amazingly enjoyable 40 minutes.

Spirits were certainly high by the time The Mopes hit the stage. For those of you who don’t know, The Mopes were (are?) made up of one time Weasels Jughead (guitar), Danny Vapid (vocals/guitar) and Dan Lumley (drums), as well as B-Face (bass) formerly of The Queers. I must once again admit that I never really followed the band. (I guess I went with Ben after the divorce.) That didn’t stop me from really enjoying their half hour set of surf-punk instrumentals and pop-punk love songs. My eyes kept being drawn to B-Face. He still looks young and thin, but he’s grown his hair out to a 60’s mod shag. They all still looked good, and sounded good too, especially considering that they hadn’t played together in years. In fact, I’m going to have to go back and give their records another listen.

A lot of people seemed to be there for the relatively rare appearance by The Lillingtons, and The Boys From Wyoming did not disappoint. They tore through a 40 minute set of mostly classic material including “Codename:Peabrain”, “I Saw the Apeman (On the Moon)”, “Final Transmission”, “X-Ray Specs”, “War of the Worlds”, “Black Hole In My Mind”, “Murder On My Mind”, “One Armed Man”, “I Need Some Brain Damage”, “Don’t Trust the Humanoids” and “Invasion of the Saucermen”. They also threw in a couple of really promising new songs. One was about the pyramids and the other was about being abducted by UFO’s. Jughead joined them for their raucous last song, “Lillington High”. I had only ever seen The Lillingtons do part of a set outside during the day at Riot Fest Chicago. It was a real treat seeing them in the friendly confines of Reggies.

As amazing as The Lillingtons were, the last set of the night was probably my favorite. That was when Jughead and a rotating cast and crew played a bunch of Screeching Weasel tunes. At that point, I was in no condition to keep track of everyone who on stage. At various times it definitely included Vapid, Lumley, Eldrege, Dave Parasite, Mass Giorgini, other former SW members and folks from the opening bands. I apologize to the many people I missed. I was too focused on the ecstasy of the moment to write every name down. (In other words, I drank too much.) It was a little chaotic and a whole lot of fun. There were plenty of Mosrites and hugs to go around.

This was the third show of three with this lineup, so most of the merch was gone by Sunday. I picked a couple of Jughead’s books and some really nice posters. Jughead was very friendly and signed like six things for me without blinking an eye. I also caught B-Face on the way out, although I may have been a tad verbose. When they finally threw us out, we went back next door to drink some more. When I turned around, Danny Vapid was sitting right behind me. In hindsight, we might have come on a bit too strong. He was probably just trying to enjoy a beer or two with some friends. I’m sure he was very impressed with my vast Screeching Weasel knowledge. My sister took a selfie with him, and he looked like he was about to be beheaded in an ISIS video. So if you happen to see this, sorry Danny (and maybe B-Face too).

Despite possibly making a fool out of myself, this night was everything I’d hoped the Screeching Weasel 30th anniversary show would be. (To clarify, I was at the Concorde Music Hall show, not the VIP event at Reggies Music Joint.) It was a loose, spontaneous gathering of old friends to play the music they love. It felt very natural and unpretentious, while the current Screeching Weasel shows are mechanical and well rehearsed. I have never been entirely comfortable with SW without Jughead, and this was a nice tribute to the multifaceted artist. Jughead threw himself incredible weekend long party to celebrate his half century on planet earth. I’m very glad that my sister and I were able to participate in a small part of it.

Jughead and Friends Setlist:

I Can See Clearly


Hey Suburbia

I Wanna be a Homosexual


What We Hate

Guest List

Leather Jacket

Every Night

Happy Birthday