Teen Idols - Live at T1 Fest Chicago (Cover Artwork)

Teen Idols

Live at T1 Fest Chicago (2023)

live show

T1 Fest is an annual fest held in Chicago to benefit Type 1 Diabetes. The festival was created by Jimmy Costanzo and Joe CapGun from the Chicago area pop punk band Capgun Heroes. Aside from raising funds and awareness for a great cause, the festival boasts some of the best bands in the pop punk bubble and beyond. This year was no exception. Spanning over three nights at Reggie’s Rock Club, the fest hosted punk heavyweights Flatfoot 56, Huntingtons, Queers, Sack, The Methadones and Teenage Bottlerocket; among many others. As an added bonus, T1 Fest offered three back to back “special sets” of the Lillingtons, Riverdales and Teen Idols. Each band featured original members accompanied with guest musicians. This was a major treat for those in attendance. Of special interest for me on many levels was the Teen Idols performance which I will cover below. I am proud to call myself both a friend and fan of the band for over 20 years.

Founding member Phillip Hill made his return to Chicago to lead this six song performance. Long-time member Keith Witt handled lead vocal duties for the night. It has been MANY years since I have seen Keith front the band. The band’s rhythm section for the night was rounded out by Methadones drummer Mike Soucy and Capgun Heroes guitarist Nick Nativo on bass. In true classic Teen Idols fashion, the band hit the stage and quickly went into the lead off track “Dance With Me” from their debut full length. This immediately got the excited crowd fist pumping and pogoing along. As expected, once the song was over, Mike Soucy immediately did the stick click taking the band right into “Let’s Make Noise” which followed. This song originally appeared on a 7” EP of the same title and then later re-recorded for their debut. After a slight pause, the band kicked into “Pucker Up” which is the title track from their second full length album. The crowd fist pumping was getting even more aggressive at this point. The song which may have gotten the largest crowd response was “Midnight Picture Show” which is the lead off track from their 2000 album Full Leather Jacket. Phillip Hill’s backing vocals really shined through on this performance. The band returned to the Pucker Up album for a stellar performance of the hit “20 Below” after a short break. Heather’s signature backing vocals helped make this song a pop punk classic. Phillip and the crowd more than made up for singing her parts which made for a powerful performance. “Anybody Else” closed out this short and powerful six song set. The first record I ever owned by Teen Idols was the Nightmares EP from 1994. I had the pleasure to book the band once in Champaign, IL during that era. As most know, this song was later re-recorded and featured as the closing track on the debut album. This song also received an amazing crowd response as everyone helped the band sing along the female vocal lines.

Words cannot even describe how much fun and emotional seeing this set was for me personally as well as others. Due to the resurgence of 90’s style pop punk, there were many fans present who never got the chance to see the Teen Idols perform. Keith Witt moved around all over the stage just like the old days. Kudos should be given to both Mike Soucy and Nick Native for the fine job they did handling rhythm. Will this lead to a continuation of the band? I guess time will tell! For now, I am very fortunate that I was able to witness this reunion.