Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nebraska Comes to Chicago - Part 2

I woke up way early Saturday morning. The sun wasn't even up yet and I decided that 4 or 5 hours of sleep was good enough for me. I laid awake in my sleeping bag for who knows how long noticing the dim light of the morning growing brighter and brighter while looking at Zach and Maggie's record collection wishing I could blast some of the more obnoxious 80's vinyls that I noticed on the shelf. Eventually I would grab some food that I brought, along with coffee and a book and waited for everyone else to wake up. I waited patiently for everyone to get ready for the day and by then it was still a few hours before the movie was starting. We had some crazy idea of going to the movie early so we would be sure to see it. So we drive out to the library where the movie was being shown and there was no one to be seen in sight. We decided to eat at some sort of a diner close by where former president "W" ate and come back when the movie was about to start. I was still full from my breakfast so I chilled and waited for everyone to eat their lunch. We came back to the library and enjoyed Edge and participated in the Q&A with the film creators who were touring the USA from Germany. The documentary was pretty much what I expected it to be, yet was still enjoyable. Ian Mackaye has some pretty hilarious quotes in his interview, and Ray Cappo looks just like Dave Attell! That alone makes the movie totally worth seeing. Recommended for the young hardcore fan new to the Straight Edge lifestyle. Edge will eventually be released on DVD as well, so keep an eye out for it. After the movie we hurried back to Maggie's apartment to get ready for the hardcore show. I brought two cameras with me on my trip. Every show I attend I bring my Minolta Maxxum4 35mm, and I also brought my 120mm Holga with originally for travel photos on the way and in Chicago. I didn't have any time to shoot any of the city, so I decided that I would shoot the beginning of Cro-Mags set with my Holga, then switch to my Maxxum4 for the rest of their set. A quick change to a fresh set of batteries and film loaded, I was ready for the evening.

Eventually everyone was ready to go so we walked a few blocks to the L station checking out all the Weed Wolf tags and on the way Maggie got sneezed on by some random dude at a bus stop. It was pure accident yet it was pretty crazy. I've never ridden on the L before. After a short wait in an underground terminal we were quickly on board and heading towards the venue. I remember the ride being shaky and rough. I was amazed by how close houses remained to the L tracks as we rolled along through the city. If the windows could roll down I would be able to touch some of the buildings we passed by barley reaching my arm out. I also thought about how shitty it would be to live in one of those apartments with a train flying by your bedroom window every 5-10 minutes every day. It was kind of surreal looking down on the various neighborhoods as we rode to the venue. Some streets looked better than others and it made me think of what kind of urban photos could I capture down there. Within a minute or 2 we were at our stop. We exited the train and walked down the old stairs that looked like they were built over 50 years ago down to the street level, literally 2 blocks from the venue. The Subterranean is located in Wicker Park, what appeared to be a very hip neighborhood with crowded streets. It was about 6:30 when we walked to the venue and saw a sign saying that doors opened at 7, with only a few people waiting in line. Eventually more and more hardcore fans were showing up making the line go around the corner of the block. After a short time of people watching we were finally allowed to inter the venue. The Subterranean is a small venue with a capacity of 350 if I could remember right. From the front doors, you climb a few flights of stairs and turn right at the top to what would be majority of the dance floor for the evening. Tuning to my right, I saw the stage and quickly camped up front in my spot with my camera gear and waited for the show to start. The stage was just about the right height for a hardcore show, and there were stage monitors jutting out that would be perfect for launching off for stage dives. Up front another photographer named Mike introduced himself to me and was telling me how he had huge ass flashes set up on the stage that will be used for the show. I've seen photos of shows used with said flashes but I had no idea how they were set up and how large they were. Within a five minutes the venue was filling up. The venue also has an upstairs balcony where people were watching from up high. Convicted had done most of their sound check before the doors were open so shortly the show was underway.

Three local Chicago hardcore bands opened the show, the first being Convicted. These guys are a fairly new band still and played Omaha back in January. This would also be the bands last show. Convicted play a pretty straight forward style of hardcore but with some heavy under tones. These guys bring a lot of energy to the stage so it was a lot of fun to photograph them. The sound in the venue was top notch while Convicted jammed out a very tight set with all the local Chicago hardcore kids really going off for them sing along and diving. It was really refreshing to see all the locals going off for a local band. Convicted's singer also said a lot of good things about the local scene and how Jim Grimes did a lot for bringing shows into the city throughout the years. Left Hand Path would play next. The same drum kit was used throughout the show so set up times seemed to go quickly. This would be the first time for me seeing or hearing Left Hand Path, and I would find out that this was a reunion show. Left Hand Path were obviously a local favorite at one time. From the first string strum to the final song, a cover of Sepultura - Propaganda(!), the front was electric. The local hardcore kids really went off for these guys and it was awesome. Loads of stage dives and moshing throughout the set. The Killer would play next. I was familiar with The Killer's music but have yet to see them live until this time. These guys were at least my age or if not older, and I thought it was cool that they keep playing shows on a semi-regular basis. The Killer play a dark heavy style of hardcore that is played really well. Even though the crowd reaction wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be for them, they put on a super tight set. There were some moments where the mosh was super brutal. Chicago was in full effect for all three of the local bands and it was really refreshing to see such a supportive scene. If the show would have ended at that moment I would have been happy. The shows promoter, Jim Grimes would take the stage briefly to thank everyone that came out and to respect the venue. Death Threat from CT played next. I want to say that I've seen this band more times now than any other hardcore band that I could think of. Death Threat are a great live hardcore band. I think they have good records, but seeing them live is next level. All the well known songs were played, and lots of people sang along and had a good time. A great reaction. The Legendary Merauder from NYC played next in support of their new album God Is I. Never in my life did I ever think I'd see this band play. Pretty much everyone in the crowd was excited to see these guys play just based on the reactions to the songs. Merauder played all their most popular songs while loads of people piled up front to sing along while some of the nastiest mosh happened just behind them in the pit. The performance was awesome, and Jorge's stage banter was hilarious. These guys can really play well, and everything sounded perfect. The almighty Cro-Mags closed the show. Everyone is the house was there to see them. The mosh pit by this point was nearly non existent due to everyone packing into the the front of the stage. After a lengthy wait, the road crew for the Cro-Mags made sure that no one besides the band was to be allowed on the sage, even photographers. I was pretty upset that I had to leave my perch on stage right, but I know I just couldn't NOT take a few snaps of the Cro-Mags. I set down my Minolta and grabbed my Holga and decided that I was going to shoot a roll from the front row of the show. Eventually JJ would come down to the stage and the crowd soon erupted to sing along to every word of Street Justice. For this show, the lineup for the Cro-Mags was original members John Joseph and Mackie (drums), A.J. Novello from Leeway on guitar, and the bassist from Cold As life. The Cro-Mags would belt out song after song from the Legendary Age Of Quarrel lp, and well as a few Bad Brains covers. The crowd the entire show was going crazy. Tons of stage dives and huge pile on for the sing-a-longs. I barley had the ability to snap off a roll of film with my Holga, but after seeing how they turned out it was totally worth the attempt. A huge thanks for Jim Grimes for putting on this unbelievable show. After the show, everyone would filter outside all sweaty and exhausted from the event. I would find my party and we hopped back on the L and rode back to Logan Square looking out the window watching the city pass by. We stopped at some Mexican restaurant on the way home and I had the most delicious, huge ass veggie burrito I've had in a great while. We would walk back to Maggie's apartment from there and talk about the show until early in the morning. Moose and I stayed up a little longer to chat about the local Nebraska hardcore scene until he passed out. Being exhausted from the show and full from the burrito, I would soon fall asleep as well.

I slept much better than night, but still woke up early. I took the time to enjoy another breakfast and read some of my book before getting all my things ready and packed into my car for the ride home. After a short trip to the local Whole Foods to pick up some snacks for the road and checking out a local market everyone else was pretty much awake and getting ready for the 8 hour drive back to Nebraska. We all hung out for the last time of the trip hanging out in the kitchen talking about the show and how it was fun over some delicious vegan brownies that Maggie baked for us. Not much longer it was time to drive and my group and we said goodbye to Maggie and Ashley and headed back to Nebraska. After weaving through some Chicago traffic we were well on our way back to Iowa City to drop off Jeff. I dropped Jeff off almost exactly 48 hours from the time I picked him up and he commented on how it was a really fun time crammed into such a small time frame. The rest of the ride was pretty quiet the rest of the way. Moose and Dann slept while I jammed some Quicksand passing farm field after farm field. Everyone would eventually wake up and we shared scary stories until we got back to town. After driving all day I made it back to Omaha at about 10pm. I dropped everyone off at Dann's place and came straight home and passed out in my soft and comfy bed. I wisely took the next day off from work to recuperate from all the driving. The trip was such a good time. I wish we could have stayed in Chicago for a little longer to check out some other sites, but for what it was one of the best times I've had all year. I will remember this one for a long time.

Photos from the show can be found HERE and HERE

Nebraska Comes to Chicago - Part 1

Over a month ago I noticed that for the Jim Grimes Farewell Show in Chicago that Cro-Mags and Merauder along with Death Threat were to play. Local bands, Convicted, Left Hand Path, and The Killer were also slated to play the show creating a solid lineup. I bought my ticket on a whim not really knowing how I was going to get to Chicago or where I was going to stay. At the the moment when I bought my ticket the only thing that I cared about was seeing Cro-Mags at a relatively close distance from Omaha. My original plan was to take a bus with my friend Dann and stay with a mutual friend in the city once we got there. I would later find out that my friends Nick and Moose from Lincoln and were going to the same show. Nick needed a ride to Chicago, and Moose needed a ride back. I've taken a bus to Chicago before in years past and felt that even though the traveling wasn't the most comfortable it was still an interesting way to travel. No one else going to the show felt the same way, and wanted me to drive, so after a couple weeks of delay I decided that I would. By this point a mutual friend, Jeff asked to be picked up at his home in Iowa City on the way. Moose had set up a place for us to stay in Chicago with Zach from Expire and we all took the weekend of the show off for the show so we were pretty much ready for the road trip. The plan was to leave early Friday morning, get to Iowa City to pick up Jeff by 1 and get into Chicago in the late afternoon with time to explore the city for an evening. After a few minor delays, we finally left Omaha a little after 1:30pm.

Driving through Iowa can be somewhat boring for most people. The wide open spaces of cornfields, the rolling plains, the small towns can seem like a moment frozen in time from years past. With the tallest buildings being grain elevators and local entertainment includes driving up and down "the strip", I can see why bands popular enough to tour across the country wouldn't like driving through the plains states. Driving through Iowa and later Illinois for me however is a way to relax before getting into the very dense and vertical city of Chicago. The drive from Omaha to Iowa City seemed to go by really fast with lot of talking about various hardcore bands and shows we have seen in the past. We picked up Jeff in Iowa City at about 4:30 and quickly got back on the interstate towards our destination. Jeff likes to talk to there was plenty of conversation to be had, making the traveling time seem to go by even faster. By the time we were crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois darkness was setting in, but that didn't mater because Hatebreed's Satisfaction was blastin' and I think we saw the foot of a corpse hanging out of someones car trunk in Davenport. After nearly flying off an exit ramp to the toll road towards the city, I remember the highway being really dark and not having many people driving on it. After lots of tolls paid and continuous hardcore chatter, the outskirts of Chicago seemed to come out of nowhere. By this point in the trip is was after 9pm and rainy. Chicago traffic wasn't as heavy as I thought it would be, and with the help of a GPS we were able to find where we were going to stay quite easily.

Zach's house is in Logan Square, a pretty quiet neighborhood that reminded me a lot of parts of the Twin Cities with it's parkways, shops, and local restaurants. After lugging in all our stuff, I got to meet Zack's girlfriend Maggie, as well as Nick and Jeff's girlfriends Lauren and Ashley who were both in town to see the show as well. I would find out that Zack wasn't in town for whatever reason I couldn't remember and Nick and Lauren ran away to be alone for the rest of the weekend. By this point I haven't eaten much all throughout the day, so we walked to a local Chinese dive a few blocks away. Along the way while walking through an alleyway Jeff noticed that in a basement apartment there was a guy crouched over eating pizza on the floor naked... while watching the Office on a projection screen. If you are going to eat naked in your apartment, at least close the blinds, ha. After watching him for a few seconds we knocked on the window and he gave us a thumbs up. That guy really knows how to live, and yes I saw his penis. We arrived at the Chinese restaurant literally minutes before they were about to close and I'm sure they were pissed to see us walk in. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't do this to the cooks and dishwashers, but I was mad hungry and I'm sure everyone else was too. After scarfing down some MSG we headed back to Maggie's place and met up with a couple that I forget their names (sorry if you read this), and started to plan out the next day leading up to the show. Dann called Moose and found out he was going to be in town sometime in the small hours of the morning. Someone mentioned that a new Straight Edge documentary called Edge and it was playing in Chicago the same day as the show. We all agreed we'd check it out. The night pretty much ended with us sitting around hanging out talking about hardcore and whatnot, while Zach and Maggie's Boston terrier named Franklin went all fucking crazy running around while we were tossing a toy around. This dog is merciless and will head walk anyone in it's way. After a while I was so tired from driving all day I unrolled my sleeping bag and passed out almost instantly. I slept pretty shitty that night and I think I may have heard Moose arrive sometime in the night while I was sleeping.

Cro-Mags*, Merauder, Death Threat, The Killer, Left Hand Path, Convicted (final show) - Jim Grimes Farewell Show @ Subterranean, Chicago 10/17/09