The Lillingtons/The Eradicator - Live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Lillingtons / The Eradicator

Live in Chicago (2019)

live show

I just couldn’t resist the chance to see one of my favorite bands play one of my favorite records at one of my favorite venues. Especially for free. Even if it was on a school night three hours from home. The band was The Lillingtons, and the record was Death By Television. The venue was Reggies on the southside of Chicago on Thursday, August 22nd. The show was billed as the pre party for 350 Fest, a beer/punk/ska festival taking place over the weekend in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park. This show was supposed to be free with a 350 Fest ticket, but the truth is that they let everyone in for free. I wasn’t complaining. The lineup was pretty stacked too, with Chicago’s The Eradicator, Detroit’s Bastardous and Indianapolis’ Amuse rounding out the bill.

We ditched work early on Thursday so that we’d have a little extra time to enjoy the city. We started the afternoon by meeting up with my pal, and occasional Punknews contributor Liverpool Neil and his daughter at a great Scottish pub on the northside of town. After a few drinks we headed down to Reggies. Because it was free, I figured we should be there when the doors opened at 7:30 to be sure we got in. This turned out not to be a problem. When we arrived, there were only a handful of people inside the venue. More were outside enjoying the beautiful late summer weather. Still, I felt better once I had a wristband.

There was a pretty solid punk show going on next door in the bar side too. I was finally able to catch Benny and the NoGoods, a band from Indianapolis that I really dig. (It’s a one man band for recording purposes, but a full four piece band live.) Their 2018 album Fistful of Dullards was a favorite, and they played a couple songs from it. They also played a few tracks from their just released Nothing’s Cool LP. I finally snagged a copy (a couple actually), so I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it later. The couple of new songs I recognized, “Donnie” and “Gojira”, are both very promising. Seeing and meeting Benny NoGood was a nice bonus.

Starting things off on the club side was Amuse. On the pop punk scale, this Indy trio fits somewhere between Blink-182 and The Lillingtons. Their last release was their debut full length on Dodgeball Records called Shortcuts. That record was produced by Mike Felumlee of Smoking Popes fame. It might be too much pop and not enough sci-fi, but it’s still well done. Live, the band is looser and more fun. Amuse did the smart thing and stuck mostly to their early songs inspired by Star Wars and The X-files.

Next up was Bastardous from Motown. I recognized the guitarist/vocalist from one of my Detroit favorites, Rebel Spies!. (It was the hair.) I really like what I heard from the three piece, but unfortunately I missed half their set grabbing some wings from a place down the block. We were consuming Old Styles at a pretty rapid pace, and skipping dinner seemed like a bad idea. Bastardous does kind of a goth punk thing, and I will definitely spend some time checking them out. I also met and talked to the guy with the hair after the show. His name is Tony and he seemed like a nice guy. I hope I wasn’t too incoherent.

The Eradicator was playing with a full band, which is always a treat. For those of you still unfamiliar, he/they are a band based on a skit from the old Canadian sketch comedy show Kids in the Hall. The Eradicator is a mask wearing, squash obsessed maniac who rants, raves and generally screams at the audience. Somehow this five minute sketch has inspired two LPs (the second one will be out in October), two EPs, and a double live concept album. Musically it’s very propulsive and rarely dials back from a 9 or 10 on the aggression scale. I enjoy The Eradicator’s high energy, performance art shows, but they’re not for everybody. Neil summed up another opinion when he said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “the music didn’t do much for me, but I appreciated the intensity.” What can I say? Watching the audience react in confusion is part of the fun for me.

I’m not sure what time The Lillingtons hit the stage, but I know I was having a damn good time. The club was mostly full, but hardly packed. Just a few years back, it probably would have easily sold out. For many years, The Lillingtons were nearly impossible to see live. More recently they’ve done a ton of touring. This was the 5th or 6th time I’d seen them since their fateful 2013 Riot Fest reunion. As much as I’ve enjoyed the band’s newer material, I was thrilled to get to hear them play all of Death By Television. It’s undoubtedly their defining work, and I can’t believe it’s 20 years old. I made my way to the front of the stage, prepared to sing my ass off.

They started with “War of the Worlds”, and only occasionally stopping to catch their breath, played straight through to “I Came from the Future”. Every song on the record is great, and they burned through them in a very workmanlike manner. It took about half an hour. I did, in fact, sing my ass off. Even several days later I’m still a little hoarse. After DBTV they took requests. There were some newer ones like “Pyramids”, “Project 313”, “Insect Nightmares” and “Rubber Room”. There were also older ones like “I Got Abducted by a UFO”, “Final Transmission” and finally “Lillington High”. The whole set was about an hour.

I thought The Lillingtons were great. Despite the free entry, we spent a lot of time and money for those 30 minutes of Death by Television. I had no regrets. Neil had observed from further back in the club, and he had a different opinion. He thought they looked sort of bored playing all those old songs. I didn’t get that impression right up front. Maybe he was right. Stella Sapiente (2017) was the record they really wanted to make, and it was radically different from DBTV. There were other factors too. Neil had to take it easy because he had to drive home and had to work the next day. We were staying at a hotel within walking distance and were in full party mode. Maybe our expectations were different. Maybe I can’t differentiate a good time and a good show. Or maybe I just don’t want to.

Confessions of a merch whore: Ironically, I didn’t buy any Lillingtons shit, but I already have a ton of Lillingtons shit. I got a beautiful light pink copy of the new Benny and the NoGoods record, Nothing’s Cool. I also picked up a classic black copy of Bastardous from a few years back. I was eyeing the Eradicator 12” Christmas EP, but I’ll grab it when he comes to Grand Rapids in a couple months. There were also a handful of CDs and stickers that somehow made it back to the hotel, but I know most of you don’t respect the 5” plastic format.