Night Birds - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)

Night Birds

live in Chicago (2018)

live show

Night Birds, Canadian Rifle, Retirement Club, Compressions

Cobra Lounge Chicago Sat Sept 29 2018

What a packed weekend this was for shows in Chicago! First there was Swinging Utters on Friday, then the return of Gorilla Biscuits for a matinee show at Metro on Saturday, Night Birds Saturday night, then Madball on Sunday night. Phew! But let’s talk about the Saturday night show.

First let me say that Cobra Lounge is probably my favorite venue in Chicago. Small space, friendly staff and tons of free parking. Also no bouncers which is nice. Plus they have 17 shows so my daughter can get in with me. Dinner at Twisted Spoke first, then on to the show.

A lot of the crowd must have been at Gorilla Biscuits earlier because there were a lot of people in the early 90s S.E uniform of hooded sweatshirts, baggy shorts and nikes. And a lot of them clearly were not SE anymore because they showed up to the Night Birds show completely trashed. But I digress.

The night started off with Compressions, a hardcore band from Chicago. And I mean hardcore in the late 80s way, not the nonsense that passes for HC today. Actually as soon as they took the stage I though the guitarist is playing a guitar just like Greg Ginn used to play: a clear Armstrong guitar. And sure enough they sounded just like My War era Black Flag. Very intense, very punchy. Loved it, but they only played a 20 minute set which was probably perfect for this.

Next up was Retirement Club and they were not good. At All. Singer seemed a friendly chap. Joking with folks in the audience and seemed to know everybody. But they seemed more like a joke band than a real thing. Sloppy and unprofessional. Waste of time really.

Canadian Rifle were the polar opposite. Super polished, super tight. They have obviously had some money injected into them because they had all brand new equipment. They sounded great and played well, but they have to learn pacing and dynamics. Every song was the same pace, same length, same structure. So they all tended to run into each-other making them less than memorable. I’m sure that if you listened to them separately they would be good songs, but running together like this it was basically a blur of sameness.

But then for the headliner. Night Birds were amazingly good. It was like a jolt of incredible energy shook the place to its foundations. I don’t know if they are permanently a 5 piece now that Mike Hunchback is back in the band, but whatever they are doing I wouldn’t mess with the formula because it works and it is amazing to behold. They started the set with “Pull the String” , the opening song from their new album, then burst right into “My Dad is the BTK” and the place went berserk. From then on the set was a blur of greatest hits from all their releases. They are incredibly tight but play with fire and passion. You can tell they all totally believe in what they do and love it. And the singer Brian! he comes off as the modern version of Jello Biafra: all theatrical hand gestures and facial contortions, like he’s acting out a play in his own head. Very intense, and yet he clearly has a sense of humor about what he’s doing too. It was all over in about 45 minutes, but what a 45 minutes that was! The crowd loved it and the band seemed to love it. What more could you ask for? What a great, great show, and a super fun night on the whole. Plus I was home by 11.30 so that’s a bonus to an old dude like me.