Negative Approach/Dayglo Abortions - Live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Negative Approach / Dayglo Abortions

Live in Chicago (2018)

live show

I’ve been a Dayglo Abortions fan for a long time, but somehow I had never managed to see them live. It just hadn’t ever worked out. It doesn’t help that the Canadian madmen have had difficulties getting into the US for the last decade or so. I’d even contemplated going to Canada to finally catch them. When I saw they were doing some Midwest dates, I was giddy as a school girl. Knowing their recent difficulties with touring the USA, I wasn’t entirely relaxed until I walked into the venue and saw their T-shirts hanging on the wall. The venue was one of my favorites, Reggies on the south side of Chicago. The show was in the rock club on Thursday, June 28th.

Dayglo Abortions weren’t even the headliner. That spot was reserved for another old favorite of mine, Negative Approach. I love NA, but my joy was tempered by the fact that I’ve seen them quite a few times now. (Twice last year alone.) We took half a day off on Thursday so that we could take our time getting to the Windy City. After checking into the same dumpy hotel that we always stay at in Chinatown, we jumped on the red line train and headed north.

Our destination was a Scottish pub where we met up with a regular listener of (and letter writer to) the Punknews podcast. I won’t divulge his name, but I’m sure a few of you can figure it out. We spent the next three hours drinking Scottish beer, eating delicious fish and chips, and shooting the shit. We had a damn good time. I’ve met quite a few of you reprobates now, and it’s always been a positive experience. Don’t be afraid to give me a shout if you see me out and about, or if you know we’re going to be in the same hood. Some time after 8, we parted ways to go to different shows. We headed back to the south, and our new friend went to see Dead Boys at the nearby Beat Kitchen.

There were five bands on the bill for the show at Reggies, too many for a Thursday night. We didn’t mind skipping a couple. We completely missed the first two bands, and got there just as Spare Change was getting started. I was curious to see Spare Change because I had met the singer at a show at Reggies last summer. They play the old school, patched denim vest style of thrash. I enjoyed their set from upstairs looking down from the the comfort of an oversized chair. The turnout was typical for a big city show. Not too many people were there for the openers. I was fearing the worst when the room just mysteriously started filling up before the Dayglos hit the stage.

I expected Dayglo Abortions to be playing as a quartet with a second guitar player, but they ended up being a trio. The band has been a bit of a collective for the last decade, with only founding member/guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Murray “The Cretin” Acton remaining from the ‘80s. Even he left the band for a while and missed a couple of albums in the ‘90s. Since drummer Jesus Bonehead retired in 2010, there are no members that have been on every record. From a distance, I didn’t recognize Cretin while they were setting up. He’s grown his hair long again, and looks awfully good for his age.That raspy, distinctive, two pack a day smoker voice is still in fine form too. He also runs around and plays the guitar like a 20 year old. The second guitarist was hardly missed.

Not surprisingly they played a bunch of songs from their newest album, 2016’s excellent Armageddon Survival Guide. Their landmark 1984 LP Feed Us A Fetus was also very well represented. The ‘90s were skipped entirely with the exception of the title track from 1991’s Two Dogs Fucking. The Dayglos sounded great and played their asses off. The now very respectable crowd responded by singing along and dancing their asses off too. I’m not sure how long they played, but I could have watched them all night.

It seems like every year I’m able to knock a band or two off my bucket list. (Last year it was Adolescents. I’m so glad I saw them before Steve Soto kicked that proverbial bucket.) Dayglo Abortions had been at the top of my list. (That spot now belongs to The Freeze, who are supposed to tour later this year.) High expectations can lead to big disappointments, but that wasn’t the case here. The truth is, the Dayglos must have over 100 songs. I love so many of them. There was no way they could play all my favorites. I was just glad to see that they’re still a vibrant, pissed off punk band.

Speaking of pissed off, Negative Approach closed out the evening. Even away from their home base of Detroit, NA pits are far too vicious for this middle aged punk. I just stood back and watched them destroy the place. Mild mannered guitarist Harold Richardson has a shaved head and burns calming incense on his amp. He plays with his back to the crowd, unleashing devastating sonic violence. Bassist Ron Sakowski resembles a tall, thin, tattooed Santa Claus. His long gray hair falls down his back, and his long gray beard covers most of his chest. He shouts out backing vocals as he plunks away. The drummer plays so fast it can be dizzying.

Of course, the main focus is singer John Brannon. He delivers his vicious words like a wounded animal. It’s somewhere between a scream, a shout and a feral howl. His thousand yard stare is also unmatched in the hardcore world. You need to experience it for yourself to really appreciate the intensity. Naturally they played songs from their classic 1981 self titled EP and their 1984 LP Tied Down. They also threw in covers of Sham 69’s “Borstal Breakout” and The Stooges’ “I Got a Right”. Truthfully, their setlist hasn’t changed much since they reformed in 2006. I’m not complaining. They were really just the icing on the cake.

We managed to pull off the nearly impossible at this show. We drank enough to maximize our good time, but not enough to start acting stupid or be wickedly hungover. I also figured I would spend a bunch of money on merch, but it didn’t happen. Nobody really had any T-shirts my size. (Honestly, I need another black tee like a hole in the head.) The Dayglos did have a nice selection of fairly priced records, but I already have them all in one format or another. (Ditto for NA.) I was willing to buy another one (I was leaning toward Out of the Womb because the cover’s not too busy) just to have Cretin sign it, but I missed him. I went record shopping on the way home instead.

Dayglo Abortions setlist:

Your Facebook Can Kiss My Assbook

Sick of the Lies

Stupid Songs

Argh Fuck Kill

The Dishwasher

No More Bullshit

Two Dogs Fucking

My Girl


I Love My Mom

I Killed Mommy

I’m My Own God



Scared of People

Black Sabbath