Location: Chicago Illinois USA
It is Friday morning, 08:43, and I am working on 2.5 hours sleep following last night's Butcher show at wonderful Shuba's in Chicago. This was the first show I have attended at Shuba's, and it was a real treat to see Pat and the boys in such a small, intimate venue.
I arrived at 10:00, about one hour after the show started. I was pleased to see the sign on the door "Tonight's Show Sold Out". At Shuba's that meant a crowd of approximately 250-300.
Arriving late, I missed AEUK (thanks to Doc, who informed me I was lucky to have missed it. It was great to meet another list member in the flesh). At about 10:15 the next act came on, Mezodigm. They were what you would expect from an opening band. Not the best I've seen, not the worst I've seen, but an opening band. They sounded like a cross between Syd Barrett and Catherine Wheel, a wall of noise with meaningless lyricks. The best part was when an audience member yelled "What does Mezodigm mean?", to which the singer merely scowled. After the set, I had a chance to ask the same question to the bass player while in line for the "facilities", and he chuckled and said "I get in trouble when I tell people it means 'a half-assed paradigm'". That was a better reply than the singer's.
Finally, at about 11:30, Pat and Max hit the stage, both wearing black, and both donning their sunglasses. They launched into Partytime and, unlike the San Francisco show, rapidly escalated into faster and louder songs, with the entire band on stage by the fourth or fifth song. When Pat introduced Steve Valentine, he referred to him as "Son of Chicago, Attorney at Law and Bad-Ass-Mother-F*cker". I did not record the set list, but it was basically identical to the lists posted for other shows on the tour. The sound was very good, not excellent like in San Francisco. Also, the mix of songs tended to focus, especially as the show headed into the early morning hours, on the faster rockers (She's a Yo-Yo comes to mind). The three songs from their forthcoming album were fantastic. Normally I'm bored stiff when a band plays songs I have not heard before, but these already sounded like old friends.
The T-shirts looked cheap, like they would fit a GI Joe action figure if laundered. One style featured a 1984 photo of Pat, Max and Owen from the cover of (I think, I don't have it so I'm going on memory) The Gift of Music. The other style featured a heptagon (that's a seven-sided figure, for the geometrically challenged) with the letters JBC in the center. I passed on those, but did pick up a Max Eider CD for $15. It seemed like a lot of people were scooping up Max CDs and G&I CDs.
At the end of the regular set the band stood off to the side of the stage for about 30 seconds before returning for their first encore. Pat and Max were having a good chuckle over this, because the side of the stage was in plain view to everyone, and it was quite obvious they weren't going anywhere. They played two encores, both short (two or so songs, I cannot remember exactly). The crowd really glommed onto Take the Skinheads Bowling.
All in all, an excellent evening. The audience was very deep into the music. Even during the "quieter" songs, the crowd was intensely listening, with very little conversation noise. The whole band seemed to really appreciate the reception.
Additional treat. Pat and Max will be playing an intimate "semi-acoustic" set at a club called Danny's tonight. Alas, my wife and son would not likely look upon my attendance favorably.