Sunday, February 13, 2011


Felipe M.

In what seemed to be taking forever, we finally close out the 2010 Pathological Hate Concert Calendar by counting down towards the much anticipated "SHOW OF THE YEAR." My original goal was to attend at least one show per month. Needless to say, that goal was not directly met, however, I was able to attend THIRTEEN concerts last year averaging to about ONE show per MONTH. I do not know if I would be able to do it again in 2011, especially with so many shows to attend, but little money or time to attend them all, 2011 is off to a rocky start, but let's go back one more time to last year as I rank my least favorite shows and quickly work my way to my favorite show of last year.

13. January 9--Battery (Metallica tribute band) and Skulls (Misfits tribute band) @ Reggie's Rock Club: Devon, Ricardo, and my old college buddy, Mike saw two mediocre local bands and a Misfits cover band with a chick for a bassist. The Misfits cover band played old favorites, but were either super-nervous or inexperienced as there were more instrument malfunctions than at a second-hand music store. What they lacked in musicianship they made up in soul as it was clear that the band enjoyed playing these punk rock staples. On the other hand, Battery played Metallica songs, old and new, note for note, chord for chord, and word for word. Unfortunately, they did all this a little too well as the songs became too boring to listen to and the band, at times, looked liked robots on stage.

12. March 26--Unearth @ House of Blues: I came back from San Diego on this same day to catch this band perform live for the first time ever. I was exhausted from the flight and the long train ride to downtown Chicago so maybe this show was not the best thing for me, theretofore. I was pleasantly surprised that the majority of their setlist contained songs from my favorite album The Oncoming Storm. However, the crowd was terrible and seeing the band "beg" the audience to raise the energy level was just plain sad.

11. July 3--Against Me! @ JBTV Studios: A band that I almost lost all interest in coming into the year performed a short, but solid set in front of a live, but small studio audience for the taping of an episode of JBTV. Unfortunately, the crowd was as stiff as statues as even old favorites such as "Pints of Guiness Makes You Stronger" did nothing to get the crowd going. The new songs from the album White Crosses were surprisingly good enough for me to buy the album that same week. It was later reported that the band was no longer signed to their major label, a great sign for all Against Me! fans everywhere.

10. July 10--Silverstein, Emery, and We Came as Romans @ The Metro: We Came as Romans sounded like every band that has broke out on the national scene in the last 3 years and their set did nothing to leave an impression on me except to refer to them as The Devil Wears Prada-lite. Emery, without question, was the best band of the night. Even though most of their setlist consisted of songs from their latest album, ...In Shallow Seas We Sail, their set was more varied and extremely intense and full of energy and the crowd was solid considering that Emery is a band that is attempting to garner a diverse following. Silverstein, the headlining band, did not impress much and their sets are starting to become very predictable. The new songs, for the most part were dull live and Shane Told's voice sounded horrible, especially the clean vocals, but in his defense, all the bands' clean vocals sounded awful and the blame has to go to The Metro on that one.

9. March 21--Bad Religion @ House of Blues San Diego: The second night and final night of my Bad Religion trek to San Diego ended relatively subpar as I was still hurting from the previous show (stay tuned). I came in late, probably missed a few songs and decided to take a backseat and not get too involved with the crowd, but overall a solid night nonetheless.

8. September 4--A Wilhelm Scream and Counterpunch @ Reggie's Rock Club
: Local band Counterpunch gave a monumental performance as they performed a mixture of their old, pop-punk songs with what seemed to be their newer, more technical and politically charged songs. A Wilhelm Scream completed another consistent show, but seeing this band twice before, I have seen them do better. A lot of old favorites were cut out to make room for the very successful self-titled EP that came out last year, but to me, the wrong songs from the EP were performed. Nevertheless, the band's discography is comparable to a basketball team with a deep bench as any track they play live will sound amazing. Also, the band was able to host a bigger crowd, but again, I've seen better crowds attend their shows.

7. July 2--Streetlight Manifesto @ The Metro: It was blazing at The Metro that night--literally it was hot as hell with so many people in the mosh pit area jamming to the band's music. I decided to stand on the sidelines for this one and I could still feel the heat. The setlist was solid and full of the ska-punk band's classics. The ranking is a little low for a show of this caliber, considering that it passes every parameter needed to make a great show, but I think what's holding this show back is the fact that I wasn't too involved with the crowd and I didn't get a chance to see any other bands. Then again, I'm not a big fan of ska music so maybe it was for the best that I didn't see any other bands that night. Unless of course it's Streetlight Manifesto.
6. January 16--88 Fingers Louis, The Boll Weevils, and Agent Orange @ Reggie's: The reason this show had a higher ranking was due to the quantity of bands that played that night. Not mentioned on the list was the first band Ricardo and I saw, She Likes Todd who was pretty decent. But ultimately, this show kicked off our concert calendar back into course with the return of 88 Fingers Louie AND Agent Orange, both bands could be considered as significant to the genre. Agent Orange was simply the best band of the night showing that they still had enough to blow the roof out of venues. Boll Weevils were simply, extremely aggressive and fun to watch. And seeing 88 Fingers Louie back together again was a treat as they are a very important band for the Chicago punk rock scene. This show felt like a history museum and that's not being disrespectful, rather it's a metaphor on how honored I was to be able to attend.

5. June 12--Thrice @ House of Blues: 4th time seeing this band live and they did not disappoint. Thrice mostly played songs from their awesome release Beggars and from their most recent releases, such as The Alchemy Index and Vheissu. But the real highlight of the night came when they played a song I thought I would never see them play live in my lifetime, "To Awake and Avenge the Dead." Without a doubt, one of the most single, thrilling concert moments in my life.

4. March 20--Bad Religion @ House of Blues, San Diego: The thing that stood out the most at this show was just how crazy the crowd was--and how big and overweight the people of San Diego are. I was getting tossed around like a rag doll at this show and it wasn't bad enough that I had one bad left knee, but this one kid kept hitting my right knee with his--in the same song! I went to the hotel beaten, bruised, but satisfied as the band went deep into their 30 years worth of music catalog and put on a fantastic show.
3. October 8--Bad Religion, The Lawrence Arms, Circle Jerks, and Bouncing Souls @ The Congress Theatre: The Chicago crowd was a lot tamer than the one in San Diego, but not by that much as Bad Religion shined brightest with a much larger crowd for RiotFest 2010. Also, the bands that played beforehand could have gone on a tour of their own and would have sold out a lot smaller venues with hometown heroes Lawrence Arms, punk rock legends Circle Jerks, and one of the few tolerable groups of people to ever come out of New Jersey, The Bouncing Souls as even a toe injury to their lead singer couldn't stop them from sounding amazing.

The top 2 shows of last year happened very early in 2010 and a lot of mulling, discussions, and arguments between Devon, Ricardo, and I have led me with more questions than answers. On the one hand, Between the Buried Me, the crowd was absolutely superb as they fed the band energy and encouragement throughout their very long set. However, The Dillinger Escape Plan brought the show to the audience as band members walked on top of the audience, guitarists were playing on top of the bar, and the bassist hung from the venue's rafters only to ultimately fall face down into his own near death. For the majority of the year, Between the Buried and Me had the edge at #1, but after 12 months the show that stood out and that we still talk about is The Dillinger Escape Plan.
2. January 24--Between the Buried and Me @ House of Blues: It is amazing how this band can play their 10+ minute songs to perfection live. The wave of sound that comes out of this band must be experienced for any music lover in general. Most of the band's setlist was from the uber-phenomenal album The Great Misdirect climaxing with the epic "Disease, Injury, Madness." If that wasn't enough, the band also performed fan favorites "Alaska" and "Ants of the Sky." The show must have lasted about an hour and a half, a lot of time given to an indie band of this caliber to do what they do best and that's rock the house out.
1. April 2--The Dillinger Escape Plan and Darkest Hour @ Reggie's Rock Club: I must preface this by saying that for the entire show, my friends and I were standing all the way back by the bar as we were content to watch the show from a distance. Plus it was packed at Reggie's. Already a very small venue, I have never seen this place this full to the brim before. Darkest Hour was great playing a great mix of old and new songs alike and I even got to talk to vocalist John Henry after the show. However, the band that stole the show, hell even the year went to The Dillinger Escape Plan as they took the show to the crowd--not begging the audience to get into the music, but basically just punching us in the throat unexpectedly and holding our attention until they were done with us. Never have I seen a band make the audience move from the front row all the way to the back where we were by the bar--hell, I was dancing to their songs and I know I wasn't the only one. Never could I imagine dancing along to complex, jazz-influenced, odd time signatures before, but it happened! If that wasn't enough, the light show that complemented the band was astonishing. I really don't care much for the lighting of these shows, but the work done that night was so appropriate and simply unforgettable.
One of the shows that we are going to is Deftones at the Riv in Chicago and opening up for them is The Dillinger Escape Plan and admitedly, I'm more excited about seeing The Dillinger Escape Plan at this show than the headlining Deftones. And Deftones put on amazing shows as well so that already will be a front runner for the 2011 Show of the Year.
Venue of the Year, without a doubt, was Reggie's Rock Club on State St. near the "Happiest Place on Earth," Chinatown. The bar next door has the same aesthetics as the concert hall, but with a million TVs, it is a sports fans' paradise. Drinks are relatively cheap considering the location of the place and the venue is very intimate and with a sloping mosh pit, it is damn near impossible to not get a good view of the stage.
I definitely look forward to more shows in 2011 and have already seen Thursday perform their album Full Collapse in its entirety and will get my second dose of Streetlight Manifesto after Valentine's Day. Feel free to share your favorite concert going experience of last year.

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