The Mitochondriacs - Live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)

The Mitochondriacs

Live in Chicago (2022)

live show

Chicago area pop punk fans were treated to a stellar lineup last Friday night at the Chop Shop located in the Wicker Park area of Chicago. Dan Vapid and the Cheats were accompanied by Kepi Ghoulie and Friends along with the Mitochondriacs. For those unaware, the Mitochondriacs came onto the scene last year with a number of digital singles released for charity. This was followed with a short run CDR release by Mutant Pop. This band is fronted by John Jughead (Screeching Weasel, Mopes, Even in Blackouts) on lead vocals and guitar, Marky Kobane (The Kobanes) on lead guitar, Maria Surfinbird (Sex Dream) on bass, and Eddie Pignataro IV (The Kobanes) on drums. This occasion marked the band's second live performance ever. I had been following their recordings as they have been released. This was the first time I was able to catch them live. Jughead started out the set by stating this band is similar to Boogada era Screeching Weasel. This is definitely not far from the truth, though there is much more introspection lyrically in the Mitochondriacs. The band took the crowd in a short but sweet almost 30 minute ride.

The setlist was laid out chronologically as they were released and appear on the debut CDR. There were some surprises sprinkled throughout which I will get to later. "Love" kicked off the set. This started with Marky Kobane doing his best arena rock shred to get the crowd pumped. If nothing else, this seemed to please Jughead and get him in the right mindset for a blistering set. This track is a good mid paced opener which features a fist pumping chorus. "Hate" is the B-side to this single and immediately followed. Eddie went into the zone on this track and set the pace well with his hard hitting approach. After performing their first digital single, Jughead stopped to address the crowd. He went on to say that Ben Weasel was a Led Zeppelin fan back in 1985. To no surprise, the band kicked into "I Hate Led Zeppelin" off of Boogada Boogada Boogada. The band mostly played this true to the original which pleased the excited crowd. Marky did a good job handling lead vocals on this one. The band returned to their originals with "Never/Always." This is a song about never really fitting in, especially in the punk scene. The vocal line of "I'll never get it right" always sticks with me when hearing this number. John really went into the zone at the end of the tune. "But Sometimes" is the contrast to "Never/Always" and was played with extreme precision. This one was played faster paced than the recording. Screeching Weasel fans were treated to the band's cover of "I Wanna Be With You Tonight" which followed. Maria handled lead vocal duties quite well. It helped set the cover a bit apart from the original. The instrumental "Happily" followed. Jughead explained to the crowd that this was a song originally written for the Mopes but never recorded due to Dan Vapid's commitment to many other bands. This track would fit well in the Weasel catalog. It is complete with "Ba Ba Ba" backing vocals and Jughead's signature guitar leads. My personal favorite Mitochondriacs tune "Disappointed" followed. This has all the aggression and drive of the Vindictives, Adrenalin OD or the Angry Samoans. This is a song about anyone who is holier than thou and won't forgive you for mistakes you have made. The chorus of "fuck fuck fuckity" gets me going every time! The band introduced us to "Swamp" which will appear on an upcoming one-sided picture disc release. The song titles will compile a complete sentence. This is another classic US hardcore style track, not unlike "Disappointed." I am looking forward to that release. The band finished their set with "I Want It All" followed by "Or Nothing." The former track is a true fast paced rocker that boasts a catchy sing-a-long outro. "Or Nothing" starts as a heart-felt power ballad. Jughead brought up his girlfriend Nanako from Japan who recently came to Chicago for a visit to accompany the band on keys for this track. The band kicked in at the end to bring the set to a powerful close.

I feel fortunate to have been able to catch the Mitochondriacs live. This band is chock full of talent. They have worked hard to create their own unique sound and not rely solely on recreating their past efforts. I highly recommend giving their recordings a listen. If you are lucky enough to catch them live do not miss the opportunity. They really took advantage and packed a lot of punch into the short set time. I look forward to what the Mitochondriacs have in store for us next.