Dislocated shoulder, bump on the noggin, bruised stomach, elbow and knee, hair soaked with beer, spit, and sweat that's not mine. That's me after the Street Dogs show. Reggie's has quickly become a favorite place of mine to see a show here in the windy city. Until this show, I have yet to see it so packed. Part of that was because it was a Saturday, part of that was because it was the Street Dogs, but most of it had to do with Flatfoot 56 playing their hometown show.
The night started off with the Retardos Del Mor. I came in about halfway through their set because there was an acoustic jam band called Conductive Alliance playing some amazing music at the record store upstairs. I couldn't believe what I saw when I came downstairs and saw them on stage. I thought to myself, these are some of the oldest, ugliest dudes I have ever seen on stage, but damn can they rock. They played a very simplistic style of old-school punk rock. The highlight of what I saw them play had to have been the bass player going crazy on the xylophone. The singer just seemed to be in a trance during their set, running from one side of the stage to the other, gazing into the crowd as if it went on for a mile. Their last song, "Juice" was a fun song with a chorus about blood piss, and cum (his "Juice").
Playing second that night were hometown heroes Flatfoot 56. I had read a posting earlier that week from them, calling all their fans to come out and blow the roof off of the club. It seems a shitload of people got that message because the Flatfoot fans came out in droves. This guy I've seen at most of the shows I've been to out here told me that Flatfoot is an amazing live show -- I had no idea just how much so.
I was up front for their set and that was my first mistake. As soon as the band took the stage, the crowd pushed up and I was being crushed. Had I been any shorter, I would have suffered broken ribs. There is a metal pipe that acts as a border between the crowd and the stage and I spent most of their set with my stomach pressed right up against that. Several times, I was hit so hard that it knocked the wind out of me. When Flatfoot started playing, the crowd never let up. I'm not too familiar with their old material and their new CD never really thrilled me, but they were awesome to see perform.
They exploded with passion for both their music and playing to their friends. The brothers Bawinkel were frantic on stage, often-times climbing the monitors and screaming lyrics back at the crowd. Like a couple of chickens with their heads cut off, they dashed around the stage, tossing their instruments about themselves and never missing a beat all the while. Their pipes/mandolin player performed excellently that night. While I never considered them to have a real strong Scottish influence to their guitar work, their usage of bagpipes and a mandolin fit seamlessly into their songs. And it was him who got the crowd to do the wall of death. Having only heard stories of the wall of death, it was great to finally see one happen. Like a pack of wild dogs waiting for the attack command, the crowd parted and anxiously stood off. When Tobin gave the word, they all just went apeshit and charged each other.
Like I said, I'm not too familiar with all the names of their songs, but I did recognize my favorite tracks from Jungle of the Midwest Sea: "City on a Hill," "Loaded Gun" and "Chinatown Jailbreak." The latter was fitting since the show was at the Chinatown stop for the El.
Up next was Time Again. I had never thought much of them and their live show changed very little about that. When I first hear them, I thought they were a bunch of Rancid wannabes. The singer had the same haircut and Rancid tattoos as Tim and their music was very similar. Now, he's cut his hair. The tattoos and the music haven't changed much and that's unfortunate. I was pretty bored with their set for the most part. The only saving grace would had to have been their guitarist. While nothing they played was very intricate, he had an amazing stage presence about him. He dropped down on his knees, center stage, during a solo and played his guitar in his lap. He would spin, jump, and play behind his head. They brought a couple guys on stage to sing a song with them and that was cool. They seemed to have a blast singing with the band. While I can't say that I would enjoy that, I know how awesome it would be to go on stage and sing with your favorite band. I think if I actually liked this band, I would have enjoyed their set more, but I was mostly counting down songs until the Street Dogs played.
Having just released a new album in July, the fitting thing to do is to tour in support of it, and thus, we have the State of Grace Tour. I had seen the Street Dogs perform several times on the East Coast, twice at Shamrock Festival and once at the Warped Tour, so this would be my first club show seeing them. Like they said during their set, that was the kind of place that they belong at.
After what seemed like a lengthy set up and volume adjustment (which still failed to satisfy the drummer about halfway through their set), Jimmy Hendrix's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" began playing and then the Street Dogs banner dropped and the band took the stage. The crowd erupted in cheers and, once again, I was subjected to compression. Opening the show with one of the stronger tracks from the new album, "Mean Fist," was a great way to start things off. They powered almost non-stop through their set after that, only stopping briefly to remind the folks of their love for Chicago and to talk about the Cubs (which was unwise in the southside, but they didn't care).
Although they claimed to have love for playing club shows, Street Dogs are a band who loves nothing more than to simply play and it comes across in every show, whether it be Warped Tour or Reggie's. Their stage presence is nothing short of amazing. Lead singer Mike McClogan is like a tennis ball in a dryer bouncing off every surface he find. Despite how old he looks, he has youth in his heart and his performance. Just watching him go from side to side of the stage, you could tell he was looking for a means to climb up something. Several times he balanced on the bar and just let the crowd hold him up. He even went so far as to crowd surf as far as his mike cord would allow him.
The rest of the band, not to be forgotten about, brought it to the max. Their playing is obviously tight and they are all very familiar with playing with each other. Tobe was an animal as he leapt about the stage and mirrored Mike's antics with the crowd including his own little stage dive. Even with the addition of their guitar tech playing mandolin and third guitar on several songs, the band played without a hitch. The drummer seemed to have lost one of his cabs and was quite irritated with not being able to hear everything, but his talent as a drummer allowed him to successfully play through. The rest of the rhythm section shone like stars often times crossing their guitars and being as frantic as the rest of the lot at times.
The only thing I can say that disappointed me about their performance was their set list. They drew heavily off their most recent three albums, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but they only played two songs from Savin Hill and that was "Boston Breakout" and the title track. I would have loved to hear "Justifiable Fisticuffs," "Cut Down on the 12th," "Jakes," "Last Call" or any more songs from that album. Plus, they left out some of the best tracks off State of Grace: "The General's Boombox," "Rebel Song" and even the title song that was responsible for the name of the tour was left out. I suppose newer material is the focus of a band when they are touring in support of that album, but one can't forget the old stuff.
Also, they played four covers that night: "Fatty," "Into the Valley," "Rise Above" and "Boston Breakout." Granted, the first two are great renditions that are featured on their albums, but I would have rather heard "There Is Power in a Union" over "Fatty." The band disappeared behind a wall of fans during "Boston Breakout," following the offer that if you know this song, to get up on stage and sing along. The security team was kind of pissed about this, declaring several times that there was no stage diving or crowd surfing allowed, but I suppose they got over it.
So despite my numerous injuries sustained that night, I had a pretty good time. It kind of sucks because my shoulder still has a sharp constant pain in it and I can't really lift anything with that arm. Hopefully, that will heal itself soon. I tried to take pictures, but it was futile. The crowd was just too insane and I said fuck it and tried to enjoy the show.
Set list (by album):
State of Grace:
- Mean Fist
- Two Angry Kids
- Into the Valley
- Kevin J. O'Toole
- Final Transmission
- Katie Bar the Door
- Tobe's Got a Drinking Problem
- Not Without a Purpose
- Hard Luck Kid
- You Alone
- Back to the World
- Drink Tonight
- In Defense of Dorchester
- Savin Hill
- Boston Breakout
- Rise Above