REVIEW: LOCAL H AT LIAR’S CLUB IN CHICAGO

4-26-16LocalH_1In the future, if you happen to find out Local H are playing an unexpected show at Liar’s Club in Chicago, you go. You drop everything you are doing and you find a way to go. If by chance you hear about it the next day from all those people that did attend, well, try not to kick yourself too hard over missing it.

For those following the Local H twitter account, the cat was officially out of the bag at 6:13pm the night of the show. The tweet simply stated, “Let’s go crazy tonight at @LIARSCLUBTWITS.” and included a photo of a cowbell and part of a drum kit.

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The Liar’s Club is the ultimate dive bar and to be honest, if you’re not paying attention, you could easily drive past without evening knowing it was there. The space inside is narrow, with red padded walls, and houses some cool pieces of KISS art and a KISS pinball machine, not to mention a huge fez light fixture hanging from the ceiling near the bar. The small, barely off the floor, stage is located at the opposite end of the entrance. If a small club doesn’t sound appealing enough, the place is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a woman who was hacked to death by her husband in the apartment above the bar along with other gruesome events have also taken place at this location in the past. I can’t think of a better place for an unexpected show!

Even though doors opened at 8 p.m., it took a while before people started trickling in. The reason for Local H’s performance was due to someone’s going away party. The crowd was a combination of party goers, Local H fans and what I would assume were regulars. The night started off with Dorian Taj, who are also from Chicago. Some folks gathered near the stage for their 40-minute set, but it wasn’t until they were almost finished that the space closest to the stage started to get tighter as fans were slowly making their way to the front for what was to come next.

Eventually, Scott Lucas and Ryan Harding made their way through the crowd and onto the stage to set up. Scott methodically set up his pedal boards and Ryan rearranged his drums and moved them closer to the stage (due to space, his kit was also used by the opening band). Right before the band was set to play, the guy having the party took to the stage and thanked everyone he knew for coming and thanked those he didn’t know for being there as well. I’m guessing due to the number of people he saw in the building, he joked that apparently the cat was out of the bag before he finally introduced Local H.

At approximately fifteen minutes until midnight, the lights dimmed, the fog started to roll across the stage and Scott began singing the beginning portion of Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy before going into a cover of Iggy Pop’s Some Weird Sin. Super upbeat and fast, the crowd was really getting into it and the band covered it well. This lead into the super poppy sounding cover of Prince’s Pop Life, a song Local H covered back in the day. Talk about a song putting a smile on your face. This lead into their version of Motorhead’s (We Are) The Road Crew, which was raw and dirty and exactly how a Motorhead cover should sound.

Prior to the show starting and due to the way the crowd was quickly filling in I found myself against the stage directly in front of Ryan. He was so close I could have easily reached out and touched his bass drum (yes, he was using the same kit from the recent As Good As Dead 20th anniversary shows at Metro.) Watching a Local H show from this advantage allowed for an extreme close up of the intensity with which Ryan plays. When he first sat down at the start of the show his demeanor was calm and light-hearted. However, once he started playing, it was as if he turned into another person. With each and every song, he never let up. His entire body absorbed every impact, his facial expressions, at times, grew more and more grimacing and his hair quickly became disheveled. It was pretty intense.

There was no time for chit chat and they immediately went into three songs from Hey, Killer. First up was City of Knives that immediately went into Freshly F–ked followed by Gig Bag Road. With the deep dirty sounding intro, it’s always fun to sing along with this one, “I woke up on the rumble strip, now I’m in the passing lane.” Due to positioning on stage, Scott was mostly in the dark, however, having the ability to watch him switch between pedals and effects during songs made for a cool perspective. A lot of times in larger venues you don’t always get to see the magic as it’s happening on stage. Above him was a partial mirrored ceiling. From time to time it was cool to glance up and see him play from a different view.

By the time they had gotten to their cover of David Bowie’s Heroes, which was absolutely fantastic, it finally hit me. Some of these cover songs were from artists that had recently passed away (Lemmy Dec. ‘15, Bowie Jan. ‘16 and most recently, Prince Apr. ‘16.) My moment of reflection on the loss of some amazing musicians was brief as the band tore into the super catchy (Baby Wants To) Tame Me from Here Comes the Zoo. Once again I was drawn to watching Ryan play. Even though he was playing the same drum combination over and over, the look of concentration on his face was so focused.

All night Scott had very little to say. In fact, it was a few songs in before he even spoke to the crowd, and even then it was only to say thank you. However, after playing a couple more songs, as Scott tuned his guitar, Ryan made a comment to Scott that couldn’t easily be heard. Scott then proceeded to tell the audience Ryan’s eyes were burning from the fog. (It pretty much consumed the small stage all night.) Scott replied with something to the effect that if they were going to play stoner rock, they needed the fog. Scott joked and said, “Welcome to my world. The world of glaucoma.”

*John the Baptist Blues was on the set list but was not played.

They continued with a killer cover of Peter Gabriel’s Shock the Monkey, which lead into the super frantic Heavy Metal Bakesale. The crowd was into it. They weren’t getting crazy like you would see at a typical Local H show with pushing and shoving, but all night everyone was rocking out in their own way. I wasn’t familiar with the original version of the next song, but I found myself mesmerized listening to Scott sing Team by Lorde. In general, I’ve always found some of the cover choices Local H has made over the years to be interesting. I don’t know if they are looking for the most obscure song you’d never expect them to cover or what, but they definitely put that Local H spin on it.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the last two songs of the night would come to be the best part of the entire evening. While their hour long set started with a brief tribute to Prince, the night was about to go out with the ultimate performance that would surely leave fans in attendance remembering it for days after. Scott called Herb (owner of the club) to the stage, stating he was the best vocalist in the building. Scott started playing the intro of the song and with cheat sheet lyrics in his hand, Herb started singing Nothing Compares 2 U, made famous by Sinead O’Connor but written by Prince. It was strange to see someone else take lead on the song, but Scott also helped with backing vocals. By this point, more fog was being pumped on stage, however it ended up making for a great effect along with the purple lighting during the next song.

When the song was over, Herb left the stage and someone else, who I found out later was Pete Muschong [The Marriend Men, The Tossers] came on stage to play bass. Scott strummed his guitar for a bit, looked over at Ryan and then began to sing one of THE most iconic Prince songs, “I never meant to cause you any sorrow, I never meant to cause you any pain,” Purple Rain. Once he got to the guitar solo, the stage was all fog and a combination of pink and purple lights. Herb and someone else jumped on stage a couple times to sing along, but after the “woah, woah” singing part of the song, Scott was back at it soloing and even moved to the front of the stage to solo in front of the fans. The song ended on a massive high note.

12:45 p.m. and the show was over. The band left the stage and made their way through the packed crowd. I happened to spot the guy who had the party and thanked him. What a night. Now THAT ladies and gentleman was how you played a surprise show at Liar’s Club! For anyone thinking, “Six cover songs? No thanks!” Save your comments until you’ve seen the band perform them. In general, Local H covers are something you need to witness live for yourself. Besides, you never know what you’re going to get at a Liar’s Club show and I for one am glad we got something outside of the norm.

Local H are on tour to support of the 20th anniversary of As Good As Dead with dates through June. The first set will be a collection of songs from Hey, Killer and other favorites played by Scott Lucas and Ryan Harding while the second set will be the entire AGAD album with Scott Lucas and original drummer, Joe Daniels. Find dates and ticket links here.

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