Masked Intruder -- Penny Road Pub, Barrington IL 12/14/19
Ha! My third time seeing Masked Intruder in about 3 months! And this was to be their last gig of the decade! Now say what you will about the quality of their albums of late, but there’s no denying that they are fun as hell live. So when I heard they were playing Chicagoland again I was looking forward to it. But what’s this? They are playing in north-western suburban Barrington? And at a tiny bar in the middle of nowhere? Weird! But intriguing.
Masked Intruder were playing as part of a “20 bands at Xmas” bill that spanned 3 days. They were headlining the Saturday show, which was all punk or punk-adjacent bands from the Chicago suburbs. The show started at 2pm, but I wasn’t gonna go that early. Masked Intruder were due on at 8.15. I wasn’t sure where it was so I googled it. Wait, an hour and 15 minutes? On a Saturday with no traffic?? Yup it was that far, and I actually live north of the city! So we left at about 4 so I could see a couple of the opening bands. At about 5 we pull off the highway and get on local roads. Next thing you know we are literally in the middle of the country/nowhere! This is weird. No streetlights, no traffic, one building with lights on in front of us. And there it was! Literally the only building around, apart from the auto repair place behind the parking lot with confederate flags outside. Yup, we ain’t in the city anymore!
Inside, the place was the typical small neighborhood bar. Small stage at one end, bar at the back and side, tables in the middle. There were even tables by the stage that they didn’t move, which was odd. The place held about 150 I’d say, and apparently there’s a smaller room with a stage in the basement too. It was a decent setup actually, and the beer was cheap. When we arrived there were probably about 50 folks there: some confused locals and some equally as confused city folk, probably glad they arrived safely and didn’t get into some kind of “Deliverance” situation. Some of the locals were even dressed up in “punk garb”. Which was just, wow.
We got there at about 5.15 and saw the 4th band on the bill: When the Sun Sets. Talk about emo-city! My daughter immediately said that they sounded just like Yellowcard. I will take her word for it as I don’t think I could name a single Yellowcard song. They were young and earnest and were very tight and professional. They didn’t do much for me musically but that’s fine because they certainly aren’t geared towards 40 and 50 somethings. But damn they must have had some money pumped into them! I’ve never seen an opening band that had as much merch as that, and not just t-shirts! They had jogging pants and coaches jackets for sale! Crazy right?
Next up were local heroes The C-Sides. They play all over the chicagoland area and they had brought quite a few fans with them. They play a mid-paced, melodic brand of hardcore, and have appeared on a couple of local comps. They were enjoyable and you should probably check out their Bandcamp page because they are worth a listen. Shades of… Following them were another local band, Dead Rest. They are a 3 piece, and have a harder edged hardcore sound than the previous band. The guitarist/singer had forgotten his guitar at home. Now I’m not sure how that happens, but it just added to the country charm of the whole night really. So he borrowed a guitar from one of the other bands, but then proceeded to break a string on it and nobody had a string to restring it. So he had to borrow another guitar. And then one of the effect pedals needed a 9v battery, so they asked the crowd if anybody had one. LOL. Did I mention this was a small-town country bar?
After they were done, we had a Masked Intruder sighting! Now their merch had been out since we got there, and Office Bradford was casually hanging out incognito, but now we started seeing people in masks!. Red was first, putting up his drum kit, so the headliners were close. Next came Green, closely followed by Purple. But no Blue? Hmm. His guitar was there and Green started tuning it. Is Blue really that much of a rockstar these days that he can’t tune his own guitar? Weird! But then we found out the truth: Blue was sick as a dog! But to his immense credit he still played the show. It was obvious that he wasn’t feeling well, because he wan’t his normal jokey self. In fact he told us that he had a bucket by the side of the stage and if he puked in it to forgive him. He wasn’t joking! They played for an hour straight, and even though Blue was subdued, Office Bradford and Green more than made up for it. At one point Blue went off for a break and Officer B played “naughty or nice” with some folks from the crowd. They even played a NOFX cover with Green singing and Officer B on bass! Those breaks allowed Blue to take backs and then come back to play the entire set, and it was pretty much the regulation MI set these days. But they did throw in a few more songs off the third album which I don’t remember them playing at Fest. The show ended with Blue motioning for Officer B to take over vocals on “I don’t wanna say goodbye to you tonight”, then rushing over to his amp where he promptly puked on the floor. The perfect bizarre end to a very weird night! It wasn’t a 10/10 performance by MI of course: how could it be. But it was still fun as hell and I give them massive credit for playing at all. And then they were (sans Blue) by the merch booth, signing and shaking hands.
Then there was time for one last drink and the long ride home. It was a fun but very strange show. But props for the bar for putting it on, and props to MI for living up to that old showbiz adage: The show must go on!
Masked Intruder -- Penny Road Pub, Barrington IL 12/14/19