The Queers/Suzi Moon - Live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Queers / Suzi Moon

Live in Chicago (2021)

live show

Love him or hate him, Joe Queer is a guy who can get things done. How many other bands could replace their bass player mid tour without missing a show? For nearly 40 years, through sheer force of will, Joe has transformed various collections of misfits into the band known as The Queers.

We had already been seriously considering hitting The Queers’ back to back Chicago shows at Reggies on December 10th and 11th. When Suzi Moon was added to the bill it became a no-brainer. The dream of two vastly different different Queers’ sets may have died with the last minute member replacement, but still, the weekend did not disappoint.

It’s only a three hour drive to the south side of Chicago, but we still took Friday off work. It was largely because we wanted to hit an Irish joint that came highly recommended for lunch. (McGinnis Pub in Michigan City, IN lived up to the hype.) We got to the Windy City in time to grab a couple beers at Reggies, check into our Chinatown dive, and even grab a quick nap. After that, it was pissing down rain, so instead of doing a bunch of walking, we jumped on the train and headed up to Gino’s East and ate a pizza that was way too big for two people.

We got to Reggies at about the 8 PM start, only to find out the show was on punk time. The Friday show was opened by a very young band called Calico Plaid. The young lady singing had a certain charm, and they seemed like really nice kids, but their music was not for us. We slipped away to the rooftop bar, and came back down in time to catch a decent chunk of Hot Alice’s set. Despite their awful name, these older guys definitely played a style of punk and roll that was appealing to an audience with a good percentage of older guys.

On Saturday we showed up a bit later and missed OK Cool. We were determined to catch the other opener, local favorites Capgun Heroes. This is a newer band, again made up of older guys. They just dropped their debut full length Last Call For Adderall in November, and it has already become a favorite around the Trauma house. The band plays classic pop punk that’s heavily influenced by Screeching Weasel, The Queers and The Lillingtons.

CGH played a fun sing-along set that was, not surprisingly, heavy on tunes from Adderall. The band, normally a six piece, was forced to exclude one of their three guitar players due to the size limits of the stage. This show was in the smaller Music Joint, not the bigger Rock Club.(The exiled guitarist joined them for backing vocals on the last couple of songs.) Capgun Heroes are an unassuming bunch, and they let the music do the talking. If ‘90s pop punk is your thing, you should definitely check them out.

We had the pleasure of meeting Suzi Moon when we arrived Friday evening. She was a figure to behold in her knee length black fur coat and her knee high black leather boots. Her hair had a kind of a Cruella DeVil thing going on. (The sexy Emma Stone one, not the scary Glenn Close one.) She definitely had that hard to define sort of charismatic star quality. That said, she was very approachable. She hung out by her merch for much of the night, conversing, signing things, posing for pictures with fans, and even doling out the occasional hug.

When she took the stage, her energy went to another level. The band was pounding out a fierce rhythm as she entered through the back of the room, passing through the crowd. She joined her three piece band, and immediately started strangling the life out of her left-handed pink Stratocaster. She was wearing a black bodysuit and stomping around the small stage in a way that made her seem much larger than her diminutive frame. If rock and roll wasn’t dead, Moon would seem poised to be a breakout star. I could see her on a much bigger stage. (Both physically and metaphorically.)

She has only officially released three songs. Her debut EP, Call the Shots, was a highlight of 2021. A long time veteran of the punk scene, her solo act arrived fully musically formed. The easiest description is like a cross between Joan Jett and the Stooges. If the majority of the songs in the set are coming in 2022, we’ve definitely got something to look forward to. Moon is a natural performer, so it wasn't easy to take your eyes off her and watch her excellent band, who were also well dressed well and playing their asses off.

Moon wasn’t afraid to grab her wireless mic and head into the crowd. It was a fairly brave move for a small woman in a small club with minimal security. She was so good on Friday that I was afraid she’d have a hard time topping it on Saturday. Well, I learned not to underestimate Suzi Moon. On Saturday, she encouraged an extremely aggressive circle pit whipping around her, as she stood there in the eye of the hurricane. Then she walked and crawled across the bar. Good stuff. If Suzi Moon comes to your town, you’d better check her out.

If Moon was all about the show, Queer and company were like a counterpoint. That’s not to say they weren't entertaining, because they were, but it was just four dudes playing punk. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) That’s what a lot of us cut our teeth on - meat and potatoes punk without the slightest trace of theatrics. The drummer and new bassist look like tow truck drivers. The long-haired Italian guitar player, (who wore a Megadeth T-shirt one night), looks like a cover model for harlequin romance novels. Joe is Joe. For me, when it comes to The Queers, it’s all about the setlist. Their set at Punk Rock Bowling gave me hope for an eclectic new era. These were a couple of unexpected ones.

The impressive thing is, despite the recent lineup change, they played at least one song from each of their proper studio albums. A bunch of songs came from an unlikely source - their last record for Lookout!, 2002’s Pleasant Screams. While “Get a Life & Live It” and “See Ya Later Fuckface” have been fairly common live tracks over the years, “I Wanna Be Happy”, “Danny Vapid”, “It’s Cold Outside”, Tic Tic Toc” and “I Don’t Want You Hanging Around” are much deeper cuts. It was also good to hear “Houston We Have a Problem” and “Girl About Town” from 2007’s Munki Brain and “Titfuck” and “Pull Me Out of It” from 2010’s Back to the Basement.

Speaking of “Titfuck”, I always hope they play their Tit Trilogy. I’ve never heard all three of the tit songs at the same show. They almost always play “Ursula Finally Has Tits”, and “No Tit” has been pretty standard too. This time they skipped “No Tit”. I guess I'll keep daydreaming…

The highlight of Friday night was when Moon joined the band for the great newer song “Hong Fucking Kong”. She was a sweaty mess after her set an hour earlier, but was totally put back together in her retro black and white knee length dress. Saturday was a slightly more traditional set with a bunch of crowd pleasing songs from 1993’s evergreen Love Songs for the Retarded. “Cindy’s On Methadone” and a cover of Ramones’ “The KKK Took My Baby Away” were my personal favorites.

Ultimately, I’m glad I decided to spend a couple of nights with The Queers and Suzi Moon. Even though I’ve seen The Queers 10 or 12 times, I still enjoyed the hell out of it. I got to hang out with, and meet some cool people, not to mention hear some great music. We learned in 2020 that live music can go away without much warning, and I don’t want to have any regrets. The Queers closed their regular sets each night with “Fuck the World” and “This Place Sucks”. We all sang along at the top of our lungs, but we truly felt the opposite.

Confessions of a merch whore: I didn’t buy nearly as much as I thought I might, mostly due to the fact that I already had most of the vinyl on the tables. (And I don’t really have room for any more T-shirts.) I did get a beautiful pink copy of Capgun Heroes’ Last Call for Adderall.