Richie Ramone/Squirtgun/The Parasites/Reaganomics
Reggies Chicago Sat 6 October 2018
Last week was Night Birds @Cobra Lounge in Chicago and this week was Richie Ramone at Reggies. I’d been looking forward to this for sometime: I mean what a bill it looked to be, at least on paper! Reggies is on the south side, a fair hike for me, but is always fun when you get there. It’s split in 2: bar on left (that also has local bands) and proper venue for touring bands on the right. Holds around 400 I’d say? And there’s a balcony with some seats so if you get there early you can sit and watch the bands from up there.
The doors opened 30 mins late, so we popped into the bar and caught the tail-end of a set from some prog-metal trio. It was as awful and pompous as it sounds, but the mood was lifted by some bell-end getting an early start to halloween by dancing around in a full body costume of a glass of beer that went from neck to feet. That’s the kind of shit that happens when there’s no cover!
Into the rock show we go. First up was The Reaganomics, a local, generic punk band. Their catchphrase is “we really do lower the bar” and that’s about all I can say. The most memorable thing i can think of was that the singer appeared to be wearing Crocs on his feet. Way to make an effort big guy.
Up next were the brilliant Parasites, one of my favorites, and one of the longest lasting pop punk bands of all time. Hell they almost defined the genre! They came on with the minimum of fuss as you’d expect. They didn’t even have their own drum kit, instead using Squirtgun’s, which was emblazoned with the Squirtgun logo, causing much confusion in the crowd as to who exactly was playing second! Not to worry though because from the first chords of “Ronnie is a Psycho” it was pure Parasites. And even though Dave looks more like the guy that runs the local comic book store now rather than a famous punk rock singer, they played a storming set. They played for around 35 minutes and spread the love, with songs from most of their 8 studio albums, plus some off of compilations and singles. Personal favorites were “Hang Up’, “You Belong to Me”, and “Young and Stupid” but the crowd dug everything. They finished the 11 song set with a Descendents cover, playing “Hope” from Milo Goes to College. It was a superb, well structured and well paced set. Professional and fun as hell.
Squirtgun was up next, even though the band was not the “classic” Squirtgun lineup that you’d expect to see. We had Mass on bass, Flav on guitar (substituting for Zac) and Dan on drums, but that was all I recognized. I believe that the singer used to sell merch for them for whatever that’s worth. They were good but not great, and maybe that’s because they ventured off script and played about half Squirtgun songs and half covers from other bands that they boys had been in, from Screeching Weasel (2 songs) to The Riverdales to the Queers to Common Rider. Of course all the local stuff was a big hit with the crowd, but the best songs for me were the most obvious Squirtgun “hits”, “Mary Ann” and “Social”. The band were tight as can be and Dan even ventured out from behind the drum kit to sing one song. Apparently Mass has just had his first kid, so congratulations to him! The wife and baby were there backstage, baby with headphones on!
The night ended with the Richie Ramone set, and I’m going to be as tactful as I can. Now, some history here. The Ramones were the first punk band I ever heard and the first band that I ever fell in love with. That was in 1977 as a 14 year old kid. I bought every album (even the later ones) and saw them numerous times throughout the decades. So believe me, I’m a huge Ramones fan. But this was… disappointing to say the least. Let me put it this way. The band were not up to the task of playing Ramones songs. Let that sink in for a second. The main problem was that the lead guitarist would have been more at home in a Guns and Roses cover band. So he was trying to fit metal solos into Ramones songs. Which didn’t work at all. Plus, it seemed like he had never heard the songs before! I mean, Blitzkrieg Bop. How the fuck could anybody mess up Blitzkrieg Bop? But he managed it somehow. The set was about 75% Ramones covers and 25% Richie solo stuff, and to tell the truth, the Richie solo stuff sounded far better than the Ramones songs did. Richie plays drums for some of the songs, then the rhythm guitarist goes on drums and Richie does the frontman thing. He can still play the hell out of the drums, but If you have never heard his voice, well, imagine Sylvester Stallone singing the Ramones songbook. That’s about how that goes. He was having a ton of fun which was awesome to see, but I have to admit to being bitterly disappointed overall. And talking of disappointing, the turnout was miserable. I’d say 100 people tops, and by the time Richie was playing that was down to about 40 people. Come on folks, make the effort to get out and see live music! Support the touring bands!
Richie Ramone/Squirtgun/The Parasites/Reaganomics