SHOW REVIEW: SOFT Machine: Benefit Shows for Seth Schuster
After a member of the Riverwest community was the victim of a random shooting outside of High Dive back in November, the community responded by throwing two benefit shows to help with his recovery. You can help by donating here.
Although I may have arrived a tad bit early I still managed to get a healthy buzz going before the music began as I normally do at High Dive. To kick things off was Chicago’s Firm Believers. Consisting of members from garage rock/pop bands that I was familiar with, MAMA & Uh Bones, Firm Believers was billed as a country band but I’ve never been remotely fond of country music. Yet as their set wore on I found myself nodding along and getting into it as they played a slew of Gram Parson covers. Aptly self-described as “country music for hippies and punks”, Firm Believers conveniently had that exact demographic of High Dive to play to which lead to the whole bar crooning and dancing along.
To close out the night was Hamdog Millionaires. Based on the Facebook event page, HM was to consist of “Midnight Reruns & friends” which lead me to believe something special was afoot. But alas is was simply just Midnight Reruns. Or so I thought. The hamdogs opened with Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” which made me almost drop my beer and I realized even though it was about to be an entire cover set- they were bringing it tonight. After several CCR songs they returned to Cheap Trick with the theme from that 70’s show that I don’t care to bother looking up the title. But just when you’re ready to fully embrace the 70’s they jump to The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”. Except then they go right back with a heavy dose of Thin Lizzy. The Hamdog Millionaires cover set is almost perfect for any dive bar or your uncle’s second or third wedding reception.
After skipping my own New Year’s Eve Eve party I made my way over to Riverwest Public House. Relatively new but quickly becoming local favorites, Sex Scenes got the show off to a roaring start per usual. They’re what you expect from a typical hardcore punk band but what sets them apart is their personality-high energy and ready to party. Yelling mostly about drugs and alcohol, front man Zach somehow manages to scream, strut and squat all over the front of the stage for 15ish minutes without passing out due to the lack of oxygen. (Of course this makes the song “Braindead” make a lot more sense.) In just several short months as a band they’ve become one of the city’s most exciting bands to watch. And that’s all due to the fact they consistently put on a good performance by bringing the same level of intensity, if not a little more, every show.
Next up was Marielle Allschwang which was a complete 180 from Sex Scenes yet proved to be a solid transition into the following act. Despite the bar crowd noise overtaking the performance at times she still managed to get through, playing a stripped down set as a duo. Already familiar with her work with Hello Death and Group of Altos, the set was mostly what I expected.
Finally local boys Sat Nite Duets took the stage. After spending several hours in an establishment that sells alcohol I was more than ready to watch them play off of one of the more overlooked albums of 2016, Air Guitar. Yet while they ultimately shied away from playing most of it, usual drummer Joe surprisingly led off with a few new songs of his own. The band then slipped into a banger ,”Stone Free”, from 2013’s Electric Manland. Again ignoring the new album they slipped even further back to 2012’s Summer of Punishment with the U2 dissing track “Chiller Pastures”. But they did not forget the new album entirely- playing “TAFKA Salieri” right before second drummer Andy took lead vocals for the band’s closer “Bessie Goes Blonde”. Another fine set you expect to see from a band that seems content being stuck in band purgatory.