I live in the suburbs, don’t drive, and had to work the next day landscaping in ninety-five degree/one hundred percent humidity heat, but this was a lineup I couldn’t miss. So right after getting off work and a quick shower, I hopped on my bike to the train, followed by the Western bus, and then a ten-minute walk to Ronnie’s! Now that’s dedication.
The show was supposed to start at eight. I showed up around 8:20 thinking it’d start soon. There were two kids sitting outside who informed me that Mike from Dastard was the only other person there. The word was that Tenement and Chinese Telephones hadn’t even left Milwaukee yet. Wow, talk about punk time!
After a little while, the rest of Dastard showed up followed by the members from Days Off, and the show began. Dastard is a three-piece pop/punk band with an experimental side. Great angsty, heartfelt, raw stuff. Their shows seem to be plagued by technical difficulties (couldn’t hear the vocals, got stuck playing out of a shitty amp) but these things can be endearing to me, too. I never trust a band that’s too well rehearsed. A “First band breaking in the night, not drunk yet” tone was in the air, but they played a great set.
By now, a decent amount of people were there but they were all outside as Days Off took the (newly built) stage. Days Off plays a sort of classic folk rock with undertones of punk. The band includes Doug Ward (old school Chicago punk dude of Fourth Rotor and 97 Shiki) and Seth, the bass player from This Is My Fist. I guess they weren’t punk enough for some of the punks outside, but the crowd that was inside was pretty responsive. They plugged through a fairly long set of fairly long songs, and didn’t get boring in the least. These guys can play, have a lot of experience doing what they’re doing, and it shows.
Now it was time for Canadian Rifle, probably my favorite band right now. At least one-to-two thirds of the group are usually moderately to heavily drunk when they play, which can is sometimes entertaining. Other times it’s a little distracting. This band, while far from unknown, is under-appreciated. One thing I’ve noticed is, as they’ve progressed from their full-length to their new 7”, they’ve gotten more complex and a little more obscure. It seems like I’m the only one singing along to the songs with maybe another person or two, whereas before this didn’t used to be the case. Maybe those were just better, more fun times. Of course you don’t have to sing along to songs you like, but it’s better than standing and staring. They played their regular set with Jake only moderately drunk. They all got out of sync by a step or two during one of the songs, but otherwise it was effing great as usual.
Rifle finished their regular set, but Tenement and Telephones still hadn’t arrived—something about a van breaking down, but they were supposedly en route. So the sound guy asked the band to play some more. Jake voiced a query: did we want to hear more, or was it just for the benefit of Ronnie’s? We did. They played about three more songs and said, “All right, that’s it.” I’ve seen this band probably thirty times, and will continue to do so. By then, it was getting late. I still had work early and discovered the train back didn’t stop at the stop I got off at, so I was quite possibly screwed. Luckily, a friend from Elgin had showed up, and with the promise of a bowl smoke and some gas money, agreed to drive me home. The Milwaukee bands still weren’t there, and I didn’t think they were exactly around the corner either. My friend was ready to go, and I guessed so was I. I’d already spent too much money on three-dollar beers (they were conveniently out of the two-dollar beers and the bartender was pretty damn unfriendly). I really wanted to see Chinese Telephones and Tenement, but the Chicago bands were well worth the seven dollars. (As it turns out, the Milwaukee crew did show up shortly thereafter…aaah well, at least I made it to work.)