Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Concert Review: Teenage Bottlerocket & Urge Overkill Riot Fest 2011

I honestly had no intention on attending any of the shows for Riot Fest 2011. That was until I caught wind that Teenage Bottlerocket were playing a secret show on Friday Oct. 7 at Cobra Lounge in Chicago. Then I changed my mind. This is one of my favorite bands, and always deliver the goods live. So I was in!

The boy's in the band, singer/guitarist Ray Carlisle, singer/guitarist Kody Templeman, bassist Miguel Chen and drummer Brandon Carlisle hit the stage running at around 12:30 am, shortly after the Danzig Legacy show let out at the Congress Theater, opening with a barn burning rendition of "Skate Or Die" from their last studio album They Came From The Shadows. And for the next hour or so it was hit after hit from these Laramie, WY natives. The crowd welcomed them with open arms, singing along to such TBR classics as "Radio", "Bigger Than Kiss" and "Bloodbath At Burger King". The energy level was set to explosive proportions! And why not? This is, after all, one of the greatest live bands to come out in the last few years.

Kody hit his usual blistering riffs, not missing a single note. And even Ray got in on the action showcasing his own soloing chops on songs like "In The Basement" and "Don't Want To Go". And Brandon and Miguel, one of the best rhythm sections around, kept the bottom end flowing as smooth as soft butter. These guy's interact with the crowd with humor and smiles and genuinely enjoy playing live. And it honestly shows. Some bands go through the motions, but not these guy's.

Late in the set the band played a spot on, if not better, version of "Henchmen" by Bad Religion which is featured on TBR's newest 7" single "Mutilate Me". The band closed with a wonderful version of "So Far Away" that Kody dedicated to my wife and myself for our wedding anniversary. As always the crowd left cheerful, sweaty and little bit tired from slamming, rocking out and singing along.

Fast forward to Sunday night. TBR were at it again, opening up for Weezer, along with White Mystery and Urge Overkill, for the 4th and final night of Riot Fest 2011. I didn't see enough of White Mystery's set to honestly say if they were good or not. What I CAN tell you about them is it's a brother/sister guitar/drums duo that featured LOTS of red curly hair.

Teenage Bottlerocket hit the stage at around 7:15 and did a slightly shortened version of Friday's show. But again, the energy level that they put into their live show was blistering. The kids in the crowd didn't have a chance! I would have to say that a good 80% of the crowd was there for Weezer, and very well may never have heard of TBR. But by the end of the night I think the band won some new fans.

The suave gentlemen of Urge Overkill started their set at 8pm on the nose with "Effigy", the first single from their newest album, and first in 16 years, Rock And Roll Submarine. The band, singer/guitarist Nash Kato, singer/guitarist Eddie "King" Roeser, bassist 
Mike Hodgkiss
and drummer Brian Quast were tight, sounding fresh and ready to rock. They blasted through such UO classics, new and old, like "Positive Bleeding" and "Bottle Of Fur" from their breakthrough album Saturation, and "The Break" from their last album from the 90's, Exit The Dragon mixed in with "Mason/Dixon" and "Poison Flower" from RARS. The band seemed to be having a blast, even though the audience seemed to not quite GET them. Too bad for the kids in the crowd. If they would have given this band a fair shake, they would have enjoyed the set as much as I did. UO were always a big band for me. And having them back after so many years away makes me not take them for granted. Kids these days...it's all about what's trendy and not about the music itself.

By the end of UO's set the crowd was getting anxious to hear Weezer play the Blue album front to back, and let it be known by throwing up their hands in a W shape, completely disrespecting UO as a collective unit and their fans in the audience. UO have been a Chicago institution for too many years to be short changed but the 16-21 year old demographic that was there for Weezer. By the time UO left the stage it was time for this reporter to leave. I'm not a Weezer fan. I can respect their catalog of songs, and was genuinely shocked to hear of the passing of former bassist Mikey Welsh earlier in the day. But their just not for me. I can respect the band, but not the fans.

In the end, the Riot Fest 2011 shows I saw, for ME, were all about TBR and UO. 2 bands I love and admire. I know all to well that life is short and to appreciate the little things like good friends, family and music. TBR and UO, like fine wine, just get better with age. I'll be a fan of both bands til the end. Both bands are class acts and I can't thank them enough for making this past weekend a time I'll not soon forget. To them, I quote the great Milo Aukerman, another RF'11 performer, "Thank you for playing the way you play!"


  1. I can definitely see why the audiance didn't like UO. It's a punk rock festival geared mainly towards 15-25 year olds. UO hasn't been a name in modern music in what? 15 years? I'm still not sure what the festival organizers were thinking. I don't how or why they thought they would go over well... especially in the slot they had. Weezer might not be a punk band, but at least they have some cross over appeal...

    I'm in my 30s. I remember UO from way back when. They didn't do anything for me then and then didn't do anything for me Sunday. Sure they were solid, but they really were too slick and showy... especially for a crowd like that. To me, they've always reminded me of a bar band that cashed in on the alt rock craze of the 90s.
    During a few of their new songs I actually turned to my girlfriend and said 'this sounds like shit my dad would listen to.'

    There were so many more logical choices... the smoking popes for example. I really just don't get it.

    Anyway... Teenage Bottlerocket was even better than they were the last time I saw them. One of the most entertaining bands in punk rock.

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