Recap: Hinds at the Empty Bottle

Phil Collins - May 27, 2017


Hinds at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night

Hinds, a four-piece garage pop group from Madrid, came through town, playing a packed show at the Empty Bottle Thursday night. By all appearances, Hinds have always come off to me as four friends who decided to kick around some tunes together and wound up touring the world before anyone knew what had happened. The band has one catchy, critically acclaimed album: 2016's Leave Me Alone. There is always more to the "overnight" success story and indeed, Hinds has existed in some form since 2011. They blew up last year with Leave Me Alone and its opening song "Garden." Their reach was apparent Thursday night. If memory serves, the last time Hinds came through Chicago, they played Thalia Hall in Pilsen. So when they played the Empty Bottle as part of the Red Bull Sound Select series, a venue roughly 10 times smaller than Thalia Hall, it was packed from front to back. The show sold out and there were plenty of hopeful RSVP-ers lined up outside the venue after the start of the show.

The band - Carlotta Cosials, Ana García Perrote, Ade Martín and Amber Grimbergen - appear just as energetic and loose on stage as they sound on the recordings. Hinds' set naturally drew heavily from their sole album, but they did break out a couple new songs. They are recording a new album that should come out later this year. The band warned the audience that one of the new songs had just been written in the studio a couple weeks earlier and had not been properly rehearsed. The crowd soaked in the new songs with vigor.

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Recap: Riot Fest 2016

Phil Collins - September 20, 2016

Another Riot Fest has come and gone, marking five years in its large outdoor form. There are plenty of places to read about what happened with The Misfits, et cetera. Here I will detail my five favorite sets of the weekend and share some other choice pictures. I saw about 32 bands during the three days in Douglas Park. My top five sets, in no particular order: War On Women, Leftover Crack, Fucked Up, The Specials and The Julie Ruin.

War On Women

War On Women at Riot Fest on Sunday

War On Women smashed up a Donald Trump piñata on stage Sunday, while playing their song "Roe V. World." They skipped most of the lyrics while bashing the Trump piñata, which was filled with condoms. Lead singer Shawna Potter got back to the mic in time to scream the final lines "I had an abortion" and the chant "Give us the pill!" The Baltimore hardcore band's performance had already been one of the festival's most punk, most fun sets. They leaned heavily on their self-titled album released last year on Bridge Nine Records. "Swagger" tackles privilege that pervades the lives of many people who do not seem to be aware of it. They closed with "YouTube Comments," a short blast that is lyrically made up of insufferable statements made on a computer.

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Recap: Direct Hit! record release show at Double Door

Phil Collins - July 6, 2016

Direct Hit!

Direct Hit! at Double Door on Friday

Direct Hit! played the last of their three record release shows for Wasted Mind at Double Door on Friday. They played many of the songs from their new album, released on Fat Wreck Chords a week earlier. They opened with the lead single, "Paid In Brains." They had a couple horn players on stage for that song's performance. "Was It The Acid?," "Do The Sick," "Promised Land" and "Hospital For Heroes" also made the setlist, along with songs from Brainless God and earlier releases. The crowd moved around plenty for the brand new songs.

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Road Report: Pouzza Fest

Steve O - June 5, 2016

So I spent the other weekend in the great city of Montréal for Pouzza Fest. While the weather was absolutely perfect for Pouzza weekend, it turned out that it actually snowed the week before. We lucked out there. The uniquely named Pouzza Fest is a portmanteau of pizza and poutine, that famously delicious Montréal cuisine of fries, gravy, and cheese. And yes, I did get vegan poutine in Montréal. I also went to 8 museums and walked all over the city. And then there were the 27 bands I saw throughout the Pouzza weekend. So let’s talk about that.


The Museum of the Day: Yeah, that’s right, there’s a museum of the day category. None more punk. Jardin Botanique, is the expansive and beautiful botanic garden. It might seem contradictory in a northern city with such long winters, but the Jardin Botanique is wonderfully well sculpted with different themed gardens throughout. While the Chinese Garden was closed, both the Japanese and First Nations Gardens exhibit both the plants, traditional architecture, and plenty of information to learn about their respective cultures. There’s an arboretum at one end, with trees grouped by family, and an Insectarium, a small museum focused solely on those ubiquitous critters.

Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden at Jardin Botanique

The Unknown Band You Gotta Hear: Okay, I guess we’ll talk about the music. Hopefully you’ve become familiar with Boston’s Trophy Lungs, since we featured their debut LP on our bracket last year, but if not, it’s a great time to reacquaint yourself. Playing that style of gruff pop-punk that’s so prevalent, and awesome if I say so myself, these days, Trophy Lungs blast out heartfelt anthems. Think of Dillinger Four if they were from Boston and shared the working class ethos of some of Beantown’s more famous names like Dropkick Murphys or Street Dogs. With songs honoring their working class roots and deceased friends, you know their hearts are in the right place.

Trophy Lungs

Trophy Lungs

Also worth checking out is San Francisco’s Cut Up. Playing at Theatré Sainte-Catherine, which sounds really classy but was basically about the same size as the Subterranean. Pop punk at a breakneck pace, they covered Latterman’s “Fear and Loathing on Long Island”, doing a spot on job in the process. If you dig that upbeat style, with a bit of grit on it, you’ll be into Cut Up. Fun and fast, I’d definitely recommend checking them out.

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Recap: Savages at the Metro

Phil Collins - April 8, 2016


Savages at the Metro on Thursday

London post punk group Savages swung by the Metro on Thursday in support of their recently released sophomore album, Adore Life. The band's bass-heavy, striking sound made waves when their first album came out a few years ago, propelled on by their electric live performances. Savages lived up to that reputation Thursday at the Metro. The photo above shows lead singer Jehnny Beth walking out on top of the crowd during "Hit Me," a quick cut from Silence Yourself. The band played "Hit Me" for longer than the 1:41 running time on the record, while Beth walked out on top of the crowd and eventually dropped back to crowdsurf.

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Recap: The Lemons record release show at Bric A Brac Records

Phil Collins - February 14, 2016

    The Lemons

The Lemons at Bric A Brac Records on Sunday

Local sugar-coated retro pop group The Lemons put out their debut album on Burger Records this month. To celebrate, they threw a Valentine's Day Bash at Bric A Brac Records in Logan Square. Take a band on the rise putting out a full-length on a hot label, add in a nostalgia-heavy space in the middle of a music filled neighborhood and you have a packed house. Hello, We're The Lemons, out on cassette and vinyl via Burger, is full of minute-long sugary pop jingles. There are 28 of these ditties on the album.

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Recap: The Methadones, The Bollweevils, Lipstick Homicide at Cobra Lounge

Phil Collins - December 14, 2015

The Methadones

The Methadones at Cobra Lounge on Sunday

The matinee show carries a different vibe than the average punk show. Daylight is plentiful. You drank coffee not very long ago. A whole night remains ahead after the show concludes. The Methadones, The Bollweevils and Lipstick Homicide played a show starting at High Noon on Sunday at Cobra Lounge. The Methadones and Lipstick Homicide both fit in the Red Scare style pop punk area. The Bollweevils are more of an old school Chicago punk band, closer to bands like 88 Fingers Louie. A good crowd turned out, including some recognizable faces from other classic Chicago punk bands, despite the early start time. The Methadones brought up Joe Principe to play a song on bass (see the above picture). He was the band's orignial bassist and is now the bassist for Rise Against. Also in the crowd were Jeff Pezzati of Naked Raygun and Denis Buckley of 88 Fingers Louie.

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Recap: Cracktoberfest 2015 at Reggies

Phil Collins - November 1, 2015

Leftover Crack

Leftöver Crack at Reggies Rock Club on October 26

Leftöver Crack only come through town once every few years. The last time I saw them was at Riot Fest, when it was still held at the Congress Theater. I first saw them at the Metro a few years before that Congress show. Monday was my third time seeing them in about seven or eight years of listening to the band, and I do not think I have missed any Chicago Leftöver Crack shows in that time. The band seems to favor more one-off shows and short road jaunts. The upcoming release of their third full-length album, Constructs of the State, called for a full-out Cracktoberfest tour. Mid-set, Stza told the crowd that they did not normally play eight shows in a row and it was wearing on his voice, as he turned vocals over to guitarist Brad Logan for "Stop The Insanity," a deep cut from their first album Mediocre Generica.

Leftöver Crack is now comprised of original members Brad Logan, Stza (Scott Sturgeon), and bassist Alec Baillie, as well as newer members on drums and guitar. The New York City crust punk band is known for their commentary on politics, government, police and religion. They carry on the crack rock steady sound started by Choking Victim, a previous band that Stza and Baillie were members of, along with former Leftöver Crack guitarist Ezra Kire. They played a few Choking Victim songs on Monday: "Crack Rock Steady," "Infested" and "500 Channels." They played a few songs from the forthcoming Contstructs of the State, which sounded promising.

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Recap: Riot Fest in Douglas Park

Phil Collins - September 22, 2015

88 Fingers Louie

88 Fingers Louie at Riot Fest on September 11

Riot Fest threw its annual three day outdoor punk/rock/ska/hip-hop/etc. festival in Douglas Park for the first time earlier this month. Douglas Park is about three to four miles south of Humboldt Park. Douglas Park is the furthest south in a series of three large Chicago neighborhood parks (Humboldt Park and Garfield Park are the other two). The three parks were designed by William Le Baron Jenney in the 1870s and were improved upon by Jens Jensen in the early 1900s. In modern history they have not been places where major festivals have been held until Riot Fest took up residence in Humboldt Park in 2012.

Last year Riot Fest expanded its footprint in Humboldt Park by including the southern half of the park in its layout, significantly increasing the size of the festival. Much has been made of what happened between last year's festival and this year's event and I will not present a blow by blow recap here. What I will do is tell you, as a festival goer who has been to Riot Fest nearly every single day that it has been held outdoors (I couldn't make it Sunday this year, lay off), how the experience this year compared to previous years. The layout in Douglas Park was much closer to the original, smaller size of the festival in Humboldt Park. They still managed to squeeze in seven stages, as they did last year. They fit the stages in a much smaller area this time, which made it a lot easier to get around than it was last year. A quicker walk from stage to stage is a big deal when good bands have overlapping set times. It was easy to get to Douglas Park via the pink line, as the California stop is a short walk from the festival grounds. Getting back on the pink line after the festival let out at the end of the night felt like a bunch of miscreants getting herded back to the neighborhoods or suburbs we belonged in, but it ultimately did not take that long. I stayed at the festival until 10 each night and was on a train by 10:30.

Let's get to the music. 88 Fingers Louie did Chicago proud with one ripper after another. I was definitely late to the game getting into this band but I have seen them a couple times now and they always get the ground rumbling. Whenever their guitarist had a moment to spare, he would fling his instrument around his body and give the crowd a menacing look.

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Recap: Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room, Jeff Rosenstock

Phil Collins - August 7, 2015

Jeff Rosenstock

Jeff Rosenstock at Double Door on Tuesday

The tour Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room and Jeff Rosenstock are on right now is a culmination of the recording of the former's new album. Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room just released Party Adjacent, the second album from the Alkaline Trio bassist/vocalist's side project. The album was produced by Jeff Rosenstock and some of the band that backs Rosenstock played on Andriano's album as well. This made for an incredibly tight knit evening of music as Rosenstock and his band stayed on stage after concluding their set to back Andriano for his set. The crowd was rowdier for Rosenstock's set, which was full of more mosh-able music. His second solo album, We Cool?, came out earlier in 2015. "You, In Weird Cities," "Hey Allison," and "Nausea" were the biggest crowd-stirrers. "Beers Again Alone" is a cool slow jam to see them play as Rosenstock pulls out the harmonica. They also played "Get Old Forever" and "Darkness Records" off We Cool? and went back to the first solo album for "Snow Charges."

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Recap: Mischief Brew at Fizz Bar

Phil Collins - July 29, 2015

Mischief Brew

Mischief Brew at Fizz Bar on Sunday

Philadelphia folk punk stalwarts Mischief Brew stopped by Fizz Bar on Sunday night. They are on tour supporting their new album This Is Not For Children, released last month on Alternative Tentacles. The album continues down the path the band set out on with The Stone Operation four years ago, favoring full-band electric rompers over stripped-down acoustic sing-a-longs. This Is Not For Children ranks among my favorite albums of the year so far. True to form, Mischief Brew played just two songs off the new album, spreading their setlist across their career.

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Recap: Shitty Weekend, Magnus Honey at the 2040

Phil Collins - July 9, 2015

Magnus Honey

Magnus Honey at the 2040 on June 24. Photo by D. Brawlins.

Portland goofpunx Shitty Weekend came out to the 2040 on Chicago's south side at the end of June for a rollicking DIY show. Including members of the Taxpayers and Transient, Shitty Weekend combine bouncy goofpunx horn lines with hardcore sensibility. Their debut album, Shit Week, made the Sweet 16 of Change the Rotation's best albums of 2014 bracket. The album struts confidently between horn-driven songs and straight-up hardcore songs. Their live set leaned decisively in the hardcore direction. "Employee of the Month," which opens Shit Week, was the highlight of the night for me. It's 56 seconds of exploded pent-up energy on the album and that is exactly how it came off in a basement full of people. The band's sense of humor was apparent in their banter between songs and in their cheeky determination to finish a cover of "Crazy Train" after the sound on the lead guitar went out mid-shred. The crowd was quick to egg them on into starting the song over from the beginning, which they did with amusing results. If you haven't heard Shit Week yet, stream it after the jump.

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Recap: Bad Religion at the Metro

Phil Collins - June 29, 2015

Bad Religion

Bad Religion at the Metro on June 22

It has become so commonplace for a band to play one of their albums in full at a live show that the whole idea has lost the element of surprise. I still like when bands do it. It gives fans a chance to see some deep cuts off a classic album that might otherwise never be included in a setlist. Sometimes bands play the album from the first track to the last, exactly as it appears on the album while others approximate the effect of throwing a disc in the CD player and hitting the shuffle button. Bad Religion took a different approach to reminisce on their formidable career at the Metro last week. They played the venue (Bad Religion started about two years before the Metro opened) on two consecutive nights. The first show featured songs released in the 20th century and on the second night they played songs from their 21st century releases.

In the photo above, look just to the right of the drummer to glimpse the unfurled scroll of a setlist, which hung lower than is visible in this shot. Bad Religion played more than 30 songs each night. The conceit of the engagement dictated that not a single song be repeated between the two evenings. Lead singer Greg Graffin told the crowd the band only attempted this feat in about eight cities around the world and would not be attempting it again, in part because he did not think he could remember 60-plus songs without the use of a teleprompter.

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Road Report: Mikey Erg at The Dougout in Washington, D.C.

Phil Collins - May 5, 2015

When I unloaded my bag after returning from a week in Washington, D.C. I immediately noticed an unfamiliar slip of paper on top of everything. It was a notice from the TSA, informing me that my bag had been randomly searched. Locks would be broken if necessary. National security. The TSA would not be liable for any broken locks. Children. The TSA would not be liable for any damaged items. Hot dogs. America. Et cetera. They may not have had to break any locks and they may not have damaged anything, but it gave me no small amount of pleasure to know that the first thing the TSA would have seen upon opening my bag was this fine piece of merchandise from American Television.

American Television middle finger merch

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Recap: The Suicide Machines family at Reggies

Phil Collins - April 21, 2015

Break Anchor at Reggies Rock Club on Friday

The Suicide Machines came through Chicago on Friday night to play their classic album, Destruction By Definition, in full and they brought their whole family of bands with them. Derek Grant, who was The Suicide Machines drummer during the Destruction By Definition era, sat in on drums with the band during this tour as their current drummer could not make it. Derek Grant, of course, now drums with Alkaline Trio. In addition to his duties with The Suicide Machines, Grant played a solo acoustic set. He released his debut solo album, Breakdown, in January.

Break Anchor, a pop punk band featuring The Suicide Machines' lead singer Jay Navarro, also opened. This show was full of Detroit love. Bastardous, featuring The Suicide Machines' bassist Rich Tschirhart, played third on Friday night. This is the newest band of the bunch, having formed in 2013. They have a couple songs up on bandcamp.

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Recap: Andrew Jackson Jihad, Jeff Rosenstock at the Metro

Phil Collins - March 31, 2015

Andrew Jackson Jihad

Andrew Jackson Jihad at the Metro on Friday

Midway through Andrew Jackson Jihad's set at the Metro on Friday night, the three members of the band added in recent years stepped off the stage, leaving original members Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty by themselves. Their performance of "Sense and Sensibility" was a reminder of the Andrew Jackson Jihad shows of years ago. Sean on acoustic guitar, Ben on stand-up bass. Upbeat rhythms behind scathing lyrics. The sound of fans screaming out the lyrics carrying as loud as the music itself in those small spaces. The fanbase grew steadily, the band has grown with new members and an evolving sound and the stage has grown to accomodate it all.

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Recap: Off With Their Heads and PEARS at Brauerhouse

Phil Collins - March 24, 2015


PEARS at Brauerhouse on Saturday

Off With Their Heads and PEARS stopped by Brauerhouse in Lombard on Saturday as part of a week and a half long tour of the Midwest. PEARS is one of the best new bands around, so if you have not gotten around to listening to their debut album Go To Prison, drop everything and listen to it right now. It placed second in Change the Rotation's best albums of 2014 bracket, only finishing behind Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

PEARS' live performance on Saturday was phenomenal. They have been touring relentlessly in support of Go To Prison, so naturally they are super tight right now. During set-closer "Grimespree," lead singer Zach Quinn dropped to the ground during the song's quiet, foreboding interlude. He pitched and dipped and writhed up and down like a serpent as the music gradually picked up in inensity. It is telling that a band that specializes in fast hardcore songs can make a slower jam one of the top highlights of their performance.

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Recap: Swimsuit Addition vinyl release; Oh My Snare! stop by on tour

Phil Collins - March 2, 2015

Swimsuit Addition

Swimsuit Addition at The Hideout on Saturday

This weekend featured an abundant choice of shows in and around Chicago. Swimsuit Addition played a vinyl release show for their 2014 album Wretched Pinups at The Hideout. That album made it onto Change the Rotation's best albums of 2014 bracket. Wretched Pinups was released on cassette and digitally last June. Saturday's show at The Hideout was the party for the vinyl release of the album on Berserk Records. The house was packed to see the locals play their last in-town show for a little while (they have some road shows coming up and are recording their next album.) Swimsuit Addition played Wretched Pinups in its entirety Saturday night, bookended by a few new songs at the beginning of the set and a handful of older tunes at the end.

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Seasonal Men's Wear/Davey Dynamite mini-tour

Dave Anians - February 3, 2015

Me and Seasonal Men’s Wear just got finished with a three show trip around Illinois for the weekend. Sadly, our fourth show got canceled due to snow, but we’ll reschedule that for sometime soon hopefully!

Here are the cool acts we played with!

Chicago at Quenchers Saloon

Richardson Richardson

"Richardson" Richardson

RR are our (heh heh) good buddies from the West Suburbs and DeKalb area. Their setup is two loud distorted heavy bass guitars and a drum machine and their mix of punk/metal/hardcore is badass. Short blasts of songs and an excellent sense of humor in between face-meltings.

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Recap: Evil Empire, Beat the Smart Kids at Quenchers Saloon

Phil Collins - February 2, 2015

Evil Empire

Evil Empire at Quenchers Saloon on January 30

Evil Empire headlined an all-ska lineup at Quenchers Saloon on Friday night. The local ska-core band has been playing shows again on a sporadic basis for the last couple years. It sounds like this lineup is getting tighter as they play more shows together. Evil Empire released the excellent album Does This Genocide Make Me Look Sexy? in 2006. Their lead singer moved out of state a little later but the band continued playing shows with the lead singer from Agents of Change for a time. They are now playing shows with a new singer, who brings an active presence and some Spanish lyrics to the stage.

The band recorded a few songs with the current lineup, which you can stream after the jump or download from their bandcamp page. They played these new songs on Friday, as well as old classics "Scam," "Kill Me Please," "Turn the Gun," "Cult of Domesticity," "Cross This Line" and "Support Your Local Police State." I've seen Evil Empire twice now with their current lineup. The crowd at both shows seemed to be a mix of people who remember the songs from the old days and people who are more familiar with the new material. More importantly, the crowd has been into it both times: skanking, moshing and singing along. I'm just happy Evil Empire is playing shows again.

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Recap: Burger Records Caravan of Stars and Red Scare Fest

Phil Collins - October 29, 2014

Cherry Glazerr

Cherry Glazerr at the Logan Square Auditorium on Friday

Three days. 20 bands. This was a festival weekend of sorts with the Burger Records Caravan of Stars pulling into town on Friday and Red Scare Industries' 10th Anniversary festivities happening on Saturday and Sunday. For reference, I saw 27 bands at Riot Fest this year. So this weekend, known as Industry Weekend (by me,) stacked up against any major festival.

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Recap: Suicide Machines at Reggies

Evil Empire returns

Phil Collins - October 5, 2014

Suicide Machines

Suicide Machines at Reggies Rock Club on October 1

Suicide Machines shows, as rare as they are these days, are going to start getting a reputation for having stacked lineups. Suicide Machines broke up in 2006, but have been playing sporadic shows since 2009. As lead singer Jay Navarro told the crowd at Reggies Rock Club on Wednesday, he had a few days off work so he booked a few shows. When they do get a chance to play, the bill is getting loaded with talented bands. They played at Reggies about a year ago and the lineup included hardcore supergroup Dead Ending, Detroit ragamuffins The Goddamn Gallows and the head-turning Portland crust punks Dirty Kid Discount. This time around, the bill included New Orleans hardcore group PEARS, skacore locals Still Alive and the metamorphosed suburban skacore legends Evil Empire.

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Recap: Fishbone at Martyrs'

Phil Collins - September 30, 2014


Fishbone played two nights back-to-back at Martyrs' in Lincoln Park on September 19 and 20. I was there for night two. Fishbone, a Los Angeles ska band that has been around since 1979, has earned repeated acclaim over the decades for an explosive live show. They played for longer than two hours at Martyrs' and looked like they could have kept going until sunrise if they didn't know any better. The band's biggest hits come from their first release: a six song self-titled EP released in 1985. "Party at Ground Zero" and "Lyin' Ass Bitch" are the two songs most people would know by Fishbone. They produced some of the biggest reactions from the crowd that night. Fishbone also played "Another Generation," a deep cut from the same EP, if EPs can have deep cuts.

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Tales of a Riot Fest Dropout

D. Brawlins of Don't Panic, It's a Distro - September 27, 2014

I’d like to say I didn’t go to Riot Fest this year for some profound reason like my concerns over the gentrification of Humboldt Park, or because corporate sponsored events don’t belong in punk rock or that I didn’t go because it’s been a threat to the DIY community in years past. Although these are all pretty big concerns of mine, I was really just too underwhelmed with the line up to justify shelling out the cash. Instead, I decided to see what else Chicago had to offer.

Friday night, I did not see NOFX, Offspring or Slayer; I went to someone’s basement… although I’m not sure if anyone actually lived there… and saw the vegan power violence band, Punch. First off, I asked the wrong punk for the address and ended up in Little Village, leaving me to walk a mile in the rain to the right house. When I arrived, there was a dude in a studded denim vest smoking a cigarette on the stoop; I gave him a nod and he motioned for me to come in. I went down to the dark and musky basement, looked around and noticed people were drinking, “cool,” I thought to myself. I went back out in the rain and picked up a six pack, tall boys of course. Got back to the show to catch the openers which was a similar experience to being repeatedly hit in the head with a brick, only with more positive results. The opener that really stood out to me was a poppy hardcore band called The Wrong, who had a fierce trans front woman with the loudest and most beautiful scream I ever heard. She was very aggressive and brought a ridiculous amount of energy to the crowd.

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Riot Fest Chicago 2014 recap: Day Three

Phil Collins - September 25, 2014

The Menzingers

The third and final day of Riot Fest began at 11:45 a.m. sharp. The ground had miraculously hardened in most areas overnight. The muddy patches were few and far between. The Menzingers, supporting their new album "Rented World," were first up. Sometimes at festivals the crowd is light in the early going, but a considerable number of people got up early and showed up in time to catch The Menzingers. The Philadelphia punk rockers got the crowd moving right away with their new single, "I Don't Want to be an Asshole Anymore." That song has a hilarious video, which you should probably watch now if you have not seen it yet. The Menzingers played mostly newer songs, including the best two songs off 2012's "On the Impossible Past" ("Good Things" and "The Obituaries.")

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Riot Fest Chicago 2014 recap: Day Two

Phil Collins - September 21, 2014


The skies had cleared but the residue of the rains from the night before remained apparent. It was, after all, 14 short hours after Friday night's festivities concluded that Saturday's began. So, it was no wonder that the sun shined down on muddy, messy fields. It would be another sloppy day in the pit. The cheesy songs of The Pizza Underground could be heard on the way in through the North Avenue entrance and by 12:25, one of my most anticipated bands of the day kicked things off on the Rise stage. Anti-Flag, pictured above, played a fairly even spread of songs spanning their 20-plus-year career. They closed their set with "Power to the Peaceful" off 2003's "The Terror State." Drummer Pat Thetic set up in the crowd for the last song and was joined by the rest of the band for the most energetic part of the set. Anti-Flag also played "Fuck Police Brutality," "Die For the Government," "This Machine Kills Fascists," "Cities Burn," "Turncoat," "I'd Tell You But..." and "Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C." They opened with "The Press Corpse" and played two songs off their excellent 2012 album "The General Strike": "Broken Bones" and "This is the New Sound."

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Riot Fest Chicago 2014 recap: Day One

Phil Collins - September 20, 2014


Riot Fest hit Chicago last weekend and this year it was markedly bigger. The festival moved from the south side of Humboldt Park, its home in 2012 and 2013, to the north side of the park. This gave Riot Fest roughly double the amount of space to sprawl out on. The number of stages increased to seven. The number of ferris wheels increased to two. The number of conflicts in set times increased to ... a lot. Naturally with more bands, more stages and a longer walk between stages, there were more opportunities for set times to conflict. Nevertheless, I saw 27 bands in three days, almost exactly the same amount of bands I saw last year. I had a blast. ALL, pictured above, kicked things off on Friday evening. This is the offshoot of Descendents that formed when Milo had too many professional commitments to play with the band regularly. I listen to Descendents a lot more than I listen to ALL, but I thoroughly enjoyed ALL's set. Their more hardcore songs were the best ones, without a doubt.

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Recap: Propagandhi and RVIVR at Concord Music Hall

Phil Collins - August 23, 2014

It was a stacked lineup at Concord Music Hall on Wednesday. Propagandhi, the veteran vegan punks from Canada, headlined the show. They do not tour the States very often, so their appearance alone was cause for excitement. They brought RVIVR on tour with them. RVIVR's 2013 album "The Beauty Between," of course, won Change the Rotation's album of the year bracket last year. War on Women were also on the bill, with fresh copies of their excellent 10-inch, "Improvised Weapons." Chicago locals La Armada rounded out the lineup for this final show of the tour.


The show started so early that I got there just in time to catch RVIVR. They started their set not five minutes after I walked in, and it looked like our group was not alone in this situation, as the room continued to fill as RVIVR's set blasted along. It was a bummer to miss two great bands, but I am so glad I was in there in time to see RVIVR's full set. They opened with the first three songs off "The Beauty Between," in order. The vast majority of their set was comprised of songs from that album, the band only detoured for a couple other songs from their catalog. That was just fine with me, as "The Beauty Between" remains my favorite release of thiers. From the deliberate buildup of guitars in the first half of "The Seam" to the eyebrow-raising delivery of vocals from Erica Freas on "Spider," those songs have been staples for me since the album's release.

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Road Report: Plan-It-X Fest

Steve O - July 7, 2014

So I was lazy and put this off for too long, so let’s hope I remember something correctly about Plan-It-X Fest. But it was fucking awesome and a ton of fun, so let’s see how well this memory works about two weeks after the fact.


Friday was the only day to bring any rain, which occurred right when it was time to set up the tent. While that was a bummer, it did cause the temperature to drop, which was a plus. Friday was the short day, with bands starting at 5, and ending with a series of short films around 1 in the morning.

Ghost Mice

The Highlights: Ghost Mice ( played to a packed barn. If you’ve seen Ghost Mice before, you know they usually play to a packed living room. So with an exponentially larger crowd there were that many more punks to scream “Up the Punks.” It made for quite an experience. The rest of the Ghost Mice set were set-list standards, including “The Good Life,” which wasn’t played at either recent Chicago or DeKalb show. On the topic of singing along with Chris Clavin, Operation: Cliff Clavin ( played for the first time since 2004 (according to Chris), and closed with “All We Got Is Each Other,” resulting with another epic sing-along.

The Surprise: I saw Spoonboy (a.k.a. David Combs – a couple years ago play in a living room. He had everyone sit down and played a pretty chill set. So it was surprising to see Spoonboy do a full band set this time. (This was a bit of a trend over the weekend.) Also surprising was the number new songs he played, I didn’t see that coming. Either way, it was a great set featuring awesome songs like “Stab Yer Dad” and “Sexy Dreams.” Just as much fun electric as acoustic.

The Unknown Band You Gotta Hear: Rubrics ( are described by the PIX Fest guide as “A political crust pop band (think Crimpshrine meets Propagandhi) from Greenville, SC.” Sounds awesome, right? It sure as hell was and that description is spot on. They were the one of best bands of the day and definitely stood out as one of the heavier bands over the weekend. Don’t Panic, It’s A Distro picked up some of their 7”s, so if you want a copy get a hold of the Distro.

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Recap: Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine at Reggies

Phil Collins - June 15, 2014

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine

Jello Biafra is rightfully considered to be among a class of legendary performers in punk rock history. The long-time San Fransisco activist and musician is best known for his work with the seminal punk band Dead Kennedys. It feels wrong, though, to merely discuss him as an important figure in the punk encyclopedia after witnessing him throw down with his current band, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. The band recently released their third album, "White People and the Damage Done." Like the recorded works of JBATGSM that came before it, the new album is a familiar yet fresh kick in the face. They played a number of the new songs Saturday night at Reggies Rock Club, including "John Dillinger," "The Brown Lipstick Parade" and "Shock-U-Py!," which was originally released as a 10-inch. These are fiery, acidic anthems that bring to mind Jello's former band but, more than that, make me glad this guy is still writing new material.

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Recap: Hellmouth at Township

Phil Collins - June 10, 2014

Hellmouth at Township

Detroit hardcore outfit Hellmouth played a rare show at Township on Friday night. There are rare shows, and then there are shows at this elevated level of infrequency. Hellmouth is the project of Jay Navarro, founded after the breakup of his most well-known band, The Suicide Machines. That band still plays the occasional show and I have managed to see them twice in the last few years. Navarro told the crowd the last time Hellmouth played in Chicago was about four years ago at Beat Kitchen. The band formed in 2008 and the last time they played here was 2010. Now that is a rare show.

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Recap: Against Me! at Durty Nellies

Phil Collins - April 7, 2014

Friday night Against Me! headlined a show at Durty Nellies in Palatine. The band is on tour in support of "Transgender Dysphoria Blues," the excellent new album they released in January. This album is significant on two fronts, the first being that this is the first album Against Me! has released since lead singer Laura Jane Grace came out as a woman. Second, the band released "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" on their own Total Treble Records after putting out their last two albums on Sire, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Records. So, this album cycle marks a new era in Against Me! history, likely the fourth era (pre-"Reinventing Axl Rose," "Reinventing Axl Rose" and the Fat Wreck Chords years, the Sire years, and the current era.) There seems to be more positive buzz from the punk community around "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" than there has been around the band for quite some time, and for good reason. The album is catchy, incisive and angry. It embodies what excited so many people about Against Me! in the first place. They played the majority of the album at Friday's sold out show, opening with "FUCKMYLIFE666" and blasting through "Unconditional Love," "True Trans Soul Rebel," "Drinking with the Jocks" and "Transgender Dysphoria Blues." The album's closer, "Black Me Out," was a raging anthem toward the end of the set. The band recently released an interesting shadow puppet video for that song. Check that out below.

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Reel Big Fish don't stop skankin at Durty Nellies

Phil Collins - March 25, 2014

Reel Big Fish, one of the banner bands of the third wave ska revival in the 1990s and still one of the most fun ska bands around, brought their Don't Stop Skankin tour to Durty Nellies in Palatine on Sunday. They played songs spanning their 20-plus year career, from their classic sophomore album "Turn the Radio Off" through their most recent release, 2012's "Candy Coated Fury." The crowd at the sold out show responded just as well to the newer tunes, especially "Everyone Else is an Asshole," the opener of "Candy Coated Fury." The band opened with two songs from "Turn the Radio Off," still the album they are best known for and one of the staples of mid to late 1990s pop culture. They started with "Everything Sucks" followed by my personal favorite song of theirs, "Trendy."

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Road Report: The Lawrence Arms in Rhode Island

Steve O - March 9, 2014

The Lawrence Arms

So I realize that while I usually write about random records, I’ve done a couple of what I feel like calling Road Reports. The last Streetlight Manifesto shows in New Jersey and Good Riddance in Cambridge, MA. Well, now let’s add the Lawrence Arms in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to the list. (What a stereotypical New England name, right?)

Yes, I drove almost three hours to see a band that I’ve seen so many times I’ve lost count. Crazy? Likely. But it was also a great time, as every Lawrence Arms show is. This one had the added bonus as I was able to cross Rhode Island off the list of states I’d been to. It was the last holdout on the east coast until you get all the way down to South Carolina.

The show also featured Elway and the Copyrights. Despite having seen the Copyrights a bunch, I don’t really know their songs too well. But they’re all fast and catchy, and they played songs like “Shit’s Fucked,” “Sleepwalker,” and “Charlie Birger Time,” so I was happy. As for Elway, I’ve been getting into them a lot lately. Kinda like Chris-only Lawrence Arms. They were great live, and pretty funny too. Their debut record, Delusions, has some great songs, off which they played “Passing Days,” “It’s Alive!” “Whispers in a Shot Glass,” and “Kristina’s Last Song.” Check them out, especially if you dig the Lawrence Arms songs starring Chris.

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Recap: Screaming Females at The Hideout

Phil Collins - February 2, 2014

Screaming Females at The Hideout

Going to so many shows over the years, you would think it would only be a matter of time before one of those shows got recorded. I don't mean recorded and put on the Internet. I mean recorded professionally for a proper release. Friday's Screaming Females show at The Hideout is the first such show I have been to. A couple times a band has recorded a show on the same tour that I saw them, so the set list was similar and the recording felt close to home. This was my first time being part of the actual moment of the recording of a live album.

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Top five shows of 2013

Phil Collins - December 23, 2013

Another year draws to a close and I cannot help but think back on all the great shows that happened in 2013. Here are five of my favorite shows from the last 12 months, in no particular order. Did you go to any of these shows, or what were your favorite shows of 2013? Tell us in the comments.

Titus Andronicus, The So So Glos, Sharpless at the Metro

Titus Andronicus

This stands as my only time seeing Titus Andronicus, so it is no surprise that this was one of the most memorable shows of the year. "The Monitor" is one of my favorite albums in recent years and their other work is nothing to sneeze at. Seeing them play "No Future Part Three," "A More Perfect Union" and "Titus Andronicus Forever" was something I had hoped to experience for a long time. They played all those songs and more from "The Monitor" as well as choice selections from "Local Business." The So So Glos, from Brooklyn, opened in support of their excellent new album "Blowout." I had heard a few songs from this band before but had never seen them. They were the best kind of opener: the kind you want to keep playing and you look up after the show. This show happened to fall on the anniversary of MCA's death. At the end of Titus Andronicus' set, all the bands got up on stage and covered The Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" together. It was one of those moments in music that makes a big world feel small and strangers feel like friends.

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The last days of Streetlight Manifesto

Steve O - November 23, 2013

How did it come to this?

So I spent last weekend in New Jersey. That’s right New Jersey. And I had a damn good reason to be spending time in New Jersey. Nov. 15th and 16th were nights two and three, and therefore the last nights, of Streetlight Manifesto as a full time touring band. Or for all intents and purposes, at least in my mind, the end of Streetlight Manifesto. It was a celebration of a decade of Streetlight. Night 1, on Nov. 14th was a night of rarities. I arrived for Night 2, the early days of Streetlight. Night 3 was, obviously, the later days of Streetlight.

Streetlight Manifesto

The shows were at the Starland Ballroom, out in the middle of nowhere. You could either park at the venue’s parking lot or across the street at the VFW. There was nothing else around. The place was packed though, as both nights were sold out. And since it was a ska show, that meant a lot of underage kids. Who, since they couldn’t drink, had to find others ways to entertain themselves. Luckily there was a screen in front of the stage, playing ads for upcoming shows and local businesses. One of those businesses: IHOP. The crowd figured out the ad before the IHOP one and would have a countdown. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, [EVERYONE CHEERS]”. This happened each time, both nights. Whoever was running the powerpoint decided to have some fun, and inserted pictures of pancakes and waffles after the IHOP slide, asking “Pancakes…” “…Or Waffles?” The crowd overwhelming voted for pancakes. (I vote waffles). On night two, a slide was inserted with the Denny’s logo crossed out, leading to a chant: “Fuck you Denny’s.” Oh yes, the underage crowd found ways to entertain themselves. And I’m sure IHOP found themselves with lots of late night business.

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Recap: Lipstick Homicide at Township

Phil Collins - November 18, 2013

Lipstick Homicide at Township

Lipstick Homicide, Iowa City's finest pop punk trio, played Township in Logan Square last night. This is a band that has lightning energy and a sense of humor, two qualities that have earned many bands in the punk world dedicated followings. Lipstick Homicide played with the tight force of a band that has clearly been playing a lot of shows lately, their chemistry unmistakable. Yet they do not give off the air of a band taking themselves too seriously. Guitarist and vocalist Kate Kane came out wearing an "Evil Dead" T-shirt. Together with bassist and vocalist Rachel Feldmann and drummer Luke Ferguson, the band appear to be three friends who have probably been hanging on each other's couches talking about vampires and posers for as long as they have been playing music.

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Streetlight Manifesto play final (for now) Chicago show

Phil Collins - October 16, 2013

Streetlight Manifesto played their final Chicago show for the time being on Saturday night at the House of Blues. Through the years, they have played ska with more complexity than it is typically known for, and their frequent touring will be sorely missed. I rank Streetlight among my favorite bands, so it is difficult to see them move on, even if they are not officially breaking up. I was lucky enough to be there for the Chicago show on their End of the Beginning Tour, which was also their first Chicago show since releasing their third album, "The Hands That Thieve."

Streetlight Manifesto

The lead up to the release of "The Hands That Thieve" was a long series of moments when it seemed like it was ready to come out and then it would get delayed. The band had long running problems with their label, Victory Records, and finally reached the end of their contract with the release of this album. The band wanted to be able to distribute it through their own means, along with a companion Toh Kay album. Victory did not allow this to happen. "The Hands That Thieve" is out now, and after the conclusion of this tour next month in their home state of New Jersey, Streetlight Manifesto will be finished touring on a consistent basis.

It was ironic to see some of these songs performed for the first time at what was likely the band's last show here for a good while. Songs like "They Broke Him Down," "Toe to Toe" and "The Three of Us" surely would have continued as staples in their live set. They also played many of their classics, including "A Better Place, a Better Time," "Here's to Life," "We Will Fall Together," "Watch it Crash," "A Moment of Silence," "A Moment of Violence," "Somewhere in the Between," "Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Cafe" and "The Big Sleep." The band has left the door open to play festivals and do short tours on an irregular basis. I cannot imagine Tomas Kalnoky, who was the lead singer for Catch 22 before starting Streetlight more than 10 years ago, would just stop making music. Still, watching them close the night out with "The Big Sleep," I could not help but feel emotions about Streetlight and ska and music.

During his opening set, Mike Park, founder of Asian Man Records, mentioned a letter he found from Tomas Kalnoky, written a long time ago. In the letter, Tomas asked Mike to release Catch 22's album. After giving it some consideration, Mike passed on the record. Catch 22 ended up signing with Victory Records and Streetlight Manifesto signed with Victory shortly after forming. Mike Park and Streetlight Manifesto might have both been better off had Catch 22 signed with Asian Man Records all those years ago. The fact that we still have some of the best ska albums I could hope for says something about this band's determination to be heard.

Suicide Machines headline night of ska, hardcore and folk punk at Reggies

Phil Collins - October 10, 2013

Friday night at Reggies Rock Club, Suicide Machines headlined a great show stacked with talented acts from top to bottom. Suicide Machines are best known for their debut album, "Destruction by Definition," which came out during the height of the third wave ska revival. They are the epitome of skate punk. "New Girl" was featured on the original "Tony Hawk" videogame and they wrote a whole song about how much they like Vans, a brand which is forever associated with skating. Their ska-punk and hardcore songs are their most vibrant and they largely stuck to those songs on Friday night, as they did the last time they played Chicago, at Riot Fest in 2011. They played "New Girl," "S.O.S.," "Too Much," "Islands," "War Profiteering is Killing Us All" and "DDT." Two of the biggest highlights had to be two songs that they did not play at Riot Fest a couple years ago. "Hey" is my favorite song of theirs and finally seeing them play it live was a blast. Check out this video of them playing "Hey" at The Fest in 2010:

I ran to the front as soon as they started playing their cover of Minor Threat's "I Don't Wanna Hear It." Suicide Machines switched frequently between ska and hardcore throughout the set, the crowd alternated between skanking and moshing.

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RVIVR blast through Township

Phil Collins - September 30, 2013

A lot can happen on a massive tour. RVIVR is on the first leg of such a tour right now. The band stopped in Chicago for a show at Township last night, a show which easily could have been a casualty of fate. RVIVR started their current jaunt in Seattle a couple weeks ago and played their hometown of Olympia, Washington the next day. By mid November, the tour will take the band to every corner of this country, playing shows nearly every day including three shows in Canada and one in Mexico.

A few days before the Chicago show, singer and guitarist Mattie Canino broke his pinky finger, forcing the band to cancel a show in Minneapolis and reschedule a show in Milwaukee as a solo set by singer and guitarist Erica Freas. It was determined soon enough that the broken finger would not bring this 50 plus show tour to a grinding hault, Canino would be able to play through the pain. Perhaps he took inspiration from RVIVR's songs, which at a simplistic level can often be boiled down to the idea of playing through the pain. He noted during the show that Chicago icon Michael Jordan's performance with a broken finger in the playoffs was a source of inspiration. The crowd was quick to point out that he had been misinformed and Jordan had not played with a broken finger, but actually played with the flu (game 5 of the NBA Finals in 1997, for anyone keeping score.)

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Riot Fest recap: Day Three

Phil Collins - September 24, 2013

Against Me!

During the final day of Riot Fest, I tried to keep my glasses on and only get soaked as opposed to super-soaked. Against Me!, Mission of Burma, Chuck Ragan, Pet Symmetry, Best Coast, Suicidal Tendencies, Pixies and The Replacements performed. Read the full recap here.

Riot Fest recap: Day Two

Phil Collins - September 20, 2013

The Selecter

Riot Fest's second day included performances from Rancid, FLAG, Blink-182, Violent Femmes, The Selecter, Pennywise, Dinosaur Jr., T.S.O.L., and Surfer Blood. My glasses got rocked off. See more pictures and the full recap here.

Riot Fest recap: Day One

Phil Collins - September 18, 2013

Bad Religion

The whirlwind of Riot Fest weekend has passed, and now that I have had a few days to recover, it's time to take a look back. Friday was a shorter day than the other two, but packed a solid punch. I got things started off right with The Flatliners, Flatfoot 56, Smoking Popes, On Your Marx, Bad Religion, Sublime With Rome, and Danzig. See more pictures and the full recap here.