Been On Top Of The World Since About One Week Ago
Which marks the first time I saw Alkaline Trio and Bayside live at the Metro in Chicago. This is true. May 31st I ventured into the second city to see two bands that truly rock. Perhaps you’re wondering about my Alk3 and Bayside cred. (I’m going to tell you whether or not you’re really wondering, so just go with it). I dabbled with Alk3 since high school. I didn’t really get into them mostly because I was still figuring out what kind of music I liked. I knew I liked a couple of their songs. Mostly the ones that everyone knew (like “Help Me”). I was young and dumb and didn’t recognize greatness and the insane amount of literary references and morbid clarity and truth they bring to their lyrics. For about the past year I’ve been a hardcore Alk3 fan. I have all their records and listen to them on the daily. I quote them as much as I can and recommend them whenever someone says they need music to listen to. That being said, Bayside is also a band that I recommend frequently. They aren’t hugely known, but their following is very dedicated and very passionate. (If you haven’t heard of or are not familiar with either of these bands, you need to be.) So, when pre-sale came around in February I jumped at the chance to see them. Both in one concert, it was like a gift from the rock Gods special for me.
Being my first time at the Metro I feel like I should review them too. I’ve heard mostly bad things about this venue. They aren’t as good as others. Their sound sucks; the acoustics suck; they have too much bass. Their staff is mean and insanely douchey. So, of course I was a little apprehensive, but I’d go to a dumpster to listen to Matt Skiba and Anthony Raneri. On arrival, our first stop is straight to the merch. Cons: You have to hold your shirt during the show. Pros: You don’t have to worry about a crowd. You don’t have to worry about them running out of your size. (Sounds like a no-brainer.) I could deal with holding on to a shirt. Tickets were at will-call, so I walked up to the little guy in the window (the window was little, not the guy) and he waved us through. Con: We (me and the guys I went with) did not get ticket stubs. The place was exciting. Already smelling like sweat, pot, and alcohol. We got there a little late and missed the first band, Off With Their Heads. From the sound of them, they sounded pretty good and I’ll look them up for new music. They seemed to have a pretty nice following. The place was packed and we stayed toward the back. Con: Not up front. Pro: Not up front. A/C breeze. (I could deal with this.)
Concert Dos and Donts
As always there are people who just don’t understand what to do at concerts. Something about a concert makes people go crazy. I understand the adrenaline rush and the whole group think and energy, but here it is:
- The place is all general standing room and packed. When someone is trying to get through, whether it’s to be closer to be by their friends or out to go pee whatever, let them through. Don’t be a jerk.
- If you’re in the mosh pit, you’re in the mosh pit. There is no reason to be pissed off when someone bumps you. Yes, this really happened and a mini fight broke out. If you can’t handle it, leave.
- If you’re on the balcony don’t sit. Yes, you have seats, but you’re at a punk concert. Why the hell are you sitting? Sit while the bands are setting up. Are you so bored during the sets that you have to sit? If this be the case, why did you come?
- Don’t look cute after a concert. If you look cute after a concert it means you weren’t having fun and you probably shouldn’t have come. (I came to the Metro with completely straight hair and left with a fuzzball for hair.)
Now, on to the show. First of all, before we even talk about how amazing they are musically, let’s talk about their stage presence. They are insane. They are so energized and very “in the zone” (for lack of a better phrase). They pull you in and shake you up. If you aren’t sure whether you like Bayside based on their albums, go to a concert. They are so much better live. Raneri (lead singer and guitarist), as well as the rest of the band truly love playing in Chicago and it’s clear they love their fans. When one of the members announced they bought a Blackhawks jersey there was an insane amount of “WOO”s and “YEAH”s. Moshing ensued (of course) during songs like “Montauk” and swaying happened during the beginning of “Walking Wounded”. They played a variety of their songs, from their newest album, Killing Time, and from their older ones, thus ensure fans of time periods are pleased. This also got a bunch of people who didn’t previously know them pumped (ie the group of girls next to me). They even played “Megan”, a song they recorded with the Smoking Pipes. Of course, I was overjoyed. (My name is Megan). Obviously they were playing directly to me. You know that moment in movies where the protagonist is at a concert and the crowd parts and all that’s there is the protag and the band and there’s this glow. That’s exactly what happened.
The main event. Honestly there are a ton of words and ways I could describe their performance. But, putting it into writing takes away from their energy, passion, and excitement. The whole set was one big exciting blur. What felt like a ten-minute set, really ended after 1 am. Their set was insanely varied. They played everything from “I Wanna Be a Warhol,” from their newest album (My Shame Is True) to “Sadie” (yes, the sound bite from Sadie herself was included). When we thought the show couldn’t get more exciting, out comes a man by the name of Tim McIlrath (lead singer from Rise Against). They recorded “I, Pessimist” on My Shame Is True together. It was beyond amazing to have a band from Chicago performing with another lead singer originating from the Chicago Area. (Fun fact: McIlrath went to my high school, different times, but still awesome.) What threw me over the edge, the band announced this will be the last time they perform this song with McIlrath. And I witnessed it!
Over and Out
Like all great things, there was an ending. The band left the stage and many people left. The lights didn’t come back on, which meant one thing and one thing only. (Well, it could mean that their lights were broken, but I highly doubt it.) An encore. Cheers of “TRI-O! TRI-O!” erupted and I was right there with them. And sure enough out came the band and rocked my world one more time. I left the Metro with a sore throat, sweat (mine and from those who pushed passed me), frizzy hair, smudge makeup, and a fire within. (Yes, I know that sounds lame; deal with it.) I am super pumped for summer concert season and will definitely go see Alk3 and Bayside live again. It’s definitely worth it. So, should you get the chance to see them, do it. Do it! Take off work, skip school, do what you have to. You need to see them.