Punk Rock Show Review

Reggie’s Rock Club, located near Cermak and State is one of the better places to see live rock music in Chicago, and it is located relatively near to the south side.

On Saturday, September 25, the venue featured two rousing shows which were specifically designed to appeal to both youthful and older punk fans.

The all ages show was headlined by the rising Chicago band, Flatfoot 56 and Boston’s Street Dogs (both were featured in recent Warped Tours).

On the other stage was an 18 and over show which featured a new all female Chicago band, The Wanton Looks, and an original, first wave British punk band, the Vibrators.

The shows overlapped in terms of time, and they were on separate stages, but the adult 18 and over show ended later, so it was possible to see all the headliners. Both shows were worthwhile and electric, but the adults only set was slightly more impressive (Some of the all age show acts indulged in a bit too much sloganeering and fist shaking).

The Wanton Looks set included hooky, ferocious versions of “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah ” and Electromagnetic Force” which recalled the metallic guitar crunch of the New York Dolls, the Ramones and Bikini Kill. “Forget you” showcased the fine chops of drummer, Maggie Thomas.

As always, the strikingly statuesque lead singer Traci Trouble completely commanded the stage, and her passionate intensity was infections. She was well supported by guitarists Suzy Q and Inga Olson.

The Vibrators were one of the original British punk bands (the Dammed narrowly beat them out for the first punk single), and they proved that they are still vital. The band have never been purists (which led some of the original punks to reject them), but they played a powerful set that blended melodic pop and a little rockabilly with punk.

One of the highlights was “Baby Baby,” came closest to being a pure sentimental pop song. Lead singer, Ian Carnochax laments that he is not worthy of a potential female lover.

Other highlights included their theme song “We Vibrate” and a feisty version of the melancholy classic “London Girls.” The new material off their new CD “Under the Radar,” sounded promising.

The Street Dogs sounded a bit like Black Flag, but their socially conscious lyrics were More reminiscent of Sham 69 and the Dead Kennedys.

They offered a powerful set of working class hardcore punk anthems which included songs that celebrated war veterans and the labor movement (“Not Enough” was dedicated to labor unions.).

One of the highlights included a cover of the Skids song, “Into the Valley” which featured a guitar attack that cut like a razor, a melodic sing-along chorus, and some of the band’s most poetic lyrics.

But the atmosphere at the set got a bit too chaotic and dangerous, and one young woman rushed away from the stage because she got a bloody nose in the frantic mosh pit.

The Celtic punk band Flatfoot 56 has experienced some big success (many of their songs have been featured in the “Sons of Anarchy” show on cable, and they have also recently undergone some big personnel changes recently.

Founding members, Kyle Bawinkle (bass and vocals), Tobin Bawinkle (guitar, vocals) and Justin Bowinkle (they’re brothers) still remain, but Eric McMahon (bag pipes) and Brandon Good (mandolin) recently joined the group. The new and old members meshed well, and the band doesn’t seem to have lost any steam.

Flatfoot 56 delivered a high energy and lively set that recalled the Pogues, Stiff Little Fingers and newer bands such as Flogging Molly. The band plowed through some excellent songs from their new LP, “Black Thorne” including a rocking version of the title track.

They did s a killer cover of “I’ll Fly Away” which was colored by some delicate mandolin playing by new member Brandon Good. (it’s a song that’s so good that Billy Bragg would cover it .)

They closed with a memorable version of “Amazing Grace” which had about half of the deliriously happy audience singing along, it was one of the high points of the set.

Vittorio Carli teaches at Richard J. Daley College, and more of his writings can be found at www.reelmoviecritic.com and www.art interviews.com. He is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Society.

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