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Whilst I am was in the States last week I was taken out around Chicago by a new colleague (Hi Chip, if you are reading, yup an American called Chip, I also have a German friend called Fritz, and a French colleague called Pascal). We were sitting in a bar playing ‘Cards Against Humanity’, which if you have never played I totally recommend, that is, if you like your humour to be puerile, immature and slightly dodgy – which sadly I do. Anyway, Chip turns to me and says ‘Do you Like Live music?’ – and I’m like, ‘Yeah, a bit’ – I was playing it cool, I wanted to jump up and down and shout ‘YEAH!’

Around the corner was a club called Metro, and that very night playing at the venue was a band called Criminal Hygiene, and according to Chip they have a bit of a buzz about them. I finished my pint of warm beer and say ‘What do they sound like?’, ‘Shall we go and find out’ Chip says. Definitely.

$6 is what it costs to get in, and, within about half an hour I have had another pint of warm beer plus an additional one thrown in my face, bearing in mind I am standing near the back this is quite an achievement. I don’t see that many bands live anymore, not in tiny venues that smell like sweat and stale beer, anyway, I’m too old, and I have a two year old daughter to look after. However in venues like this, in a town you don’t know, surrounded by strangers, watching a band, that forty minutes previous, you have never heard of, bands seem incredible.

Criminal Hygiene are very good live, they play a garage rock racket, kind of punky but in a good way. They kind of sound like The Replacements, although a more recent comparison would be Parquet Courts or perhaps The Orwells (see last weeks missive). Their show is pretty rock and roll, smashed instruments, clearly drunk band members inviting the audience on to the stage for an impromptu jam, that sort of thing. Its bloody brilliant. Especially at the start when the singer jumps on the stage and shouts ‘Let’s fucking Do this’. I read later back in the comfort of my hotel that the singer of Criminal Hygiene has false front teeth due to the fact that he smacked his fact on a skateboard when much younger. Respect.

At the end I retreat to the bar and about two minutes later Chip comes over drenched in sweat, his Tshirt is ripped but he has a heck of a smile on his face. ‘That was pretty badass’ he says. I agree, hoping that badass means good. Its about one in morning when we leave the club, I sigh knowing that in about six hours’ time I have to go to the airport and suffer more jet lag. Yet I will go with a smile, a tired, slightly badass smile perhaps.

mp3 : Criminal Hygiene – Turpentine
mp3 : Parquet Courts – Stoned and Starving

And just because of how my friend looked at the end of the gig

mp3 : Hot Chip – Dark and Stormy

S-WC