Local H @ The Metro, Chicago – Sunday, April 19th 2015

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April of 2015 marks Local H’s 25th anniversary as a band, and the first thought that comes to mind is: what bands last 25 years?

The Rolling Stones have easily doubled that total, but I’m quite sure none of those guys are human.  The Who are coming up on 50 years as well but they were inactive from about ’82-’96 and only reformed to help bassist John Entwistle with his money troubles.  This is all besides the point, because what is most impressive about Local H’s rockin’ run is the fact that it hasn’t involved private jets, being knighted by the queen or all of the other perks that would make you want to remain in a rock n’ roll band for several decades.

My first experience with Local H was CLASSIC.  My dear friend Jim Kozyra was a huge Creed fan in high school because he idolized their guitar player, Mark Tremonti (solid axe-man, to be fair).  Jim convinced me to come to their show at the All State Arena with him because Local H was opening.  I was obsessed with “Hands on the Bible” since Here Comes the Zoo had just come out, so I was down.  We were RIGHT on the stage because we got there 3 hours before the show, which proves high schoolers have a lot of free time.  Local H was incredible.  They were so rock n’ roll they set up their own gear.  Lead singer and guitar player, Scott Lucas, poured a bottle of Jack Daniels on his head and told a hilarious, fake(?) story about Scott Stapp begging them to play the show, before inviting the crowd to crash at his house and sleep on his floor.  These guys INSTANTLY became my heroes.  On top of it all, I caught a drumstick after the set…it was love at first show.

As if that wasn’t enough, the concert I’m describing was the infamous evening that resulted in my beloved, fellow Chicagoans suing Creed for a sub-par performance.  Sub-par is an understatement, this spectacle it was abysmal.  Really, I feel like I should have paid double as the show was SO bad it was HANDS-DOWN the most memorable sight I have ever seen on a stage.  It also happened to a band that was widely, if albeit inaccurately, known as a christian band!  You can’t make this shit up, but don’t take my word for it, John Stewart even looked into it:

https://youtu.be/xFZqb4jkTho

But in all seriousness, mother-fuck Creed, this story is about Local H.  The duo, now featuring Ryan Harding on drums, is playing a one-off anniversary show at the Metro on April 19 – nearly 25 years to the day of their first ever show at the University of Wisconsin.  A solid decade ahead of more heralded rock duo’s like The White Stripes and The Black Keys, Local H are Chicago legends.  Their grimy, filthy brand of rock n’ roll is contagious in the best blue-collar-Chicago-y way possible.  Accompanying me on this fine Sunday evening is my friend and concert comrade, Matt Marcionetti.

As it’s a school night, Matty and I opt to conserve energy and skip the opener.  We wanted to save all our energy for Local H.  I was able to grab tickets easily the night before so, coupled with the fact we had NO IDEA this was a 25th anniversary show, we figured the place would only be at 75-80 percent capacity.  I’m pleasantly surprised, the joint is jam-packed as we walk in during the opening notes of “The Last Picture Show in Zion” (I assume this references the part of Illinois Scott Lucas hails from).   It’s the opening track on Local H’s new album Hey, Killer, which was recorded in Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studios, and one of several from the new effort played during the first half of the set.  City of Knives” is another standout from the new disc and first half of the show.

Matt and I have to get our 9-5 on the next day, so we aren’t about to jump into the sea of people at the ground level.  The balcony is jammed with VIP’s and is also not an option, so we dip wide left into the corner near the emergency exit we have now dubbed “the old-man corner”.  It’s about 8 feet off the main floor of the venue and just under the balcony enough where the sound is perfectly clear but substantially quieter.  There is also a padded wall you can lean on, which makes it the lay-z-boy of small venue spots.  Not very rock n’ roll, but certainly appropriate for a few seasoned concert-goers like ourselves.  The crowd seem to be loyal, devoted and almost entirely from the suburbs.  Before I over do it on the city-slicker-snobbery, I have to say they sing every word to most of the songs, but there is an overwhelming aroma of Axe body spray one cannot escape in “the old man corner”.  I’m not proud of this last paragraph, but it’s all true.

The show is cut in twain by a flawless performance of “Hands on the Bible”.  Scott Lucas has really honed his craft over the past quarter century and sounds better than ever.  Ryan Harding can play his ass off and is a great addition to a fine trio of drummers that have performed as part of Local H.  The stage setup is spartan and bare as you would hope and the room is filled with ambiance created from Lucas’ barrage of guitar pedals that encircle him onstage.  There are a few more great tracks from Hey, Killer throughout the rest of the set, including Mansplainer, which seems to be a crowd favorite already.   The band also run through a slew of classic songs from the rest of their catalog as well to complete a masterpiece of a show.

Although its a great set, age is getting the better of us and we are about to peace out when Local H launch into their encore with “I am a Salt Mine”, which hooks us back in.  Feeling optimistic that the even older patrons would have already found the exit, we dash to the balcony.  Sure enough, the crowd is filing out as if the home team is getting worked, and Matt and I find ourselves at the edge of the balcony, spitting distance from the band.  As if it were a scene from a movie, we look at each other and simultaneously shout “Awesome!” just as Local H launch into “Bound to the Floor”, their signature tune by a mile.  It is a moment of pure bliss.  Rock n’ roll heaven on a Sunday night in Wrigleyville.  For approximately 3 minutes and 43 seconds, I’m 18 again.  Head banging, screaming every lyric…free.   This is all much cheesier than any suburbanite could ever be, but its’ quite possibly the most honest reaction to live music I’ve had in years.  The boys close with “High Fiving MF” and the experience is over.

Matty grabs a corndog and I a Chicago-style dog at Wrigleyville Dogs across the street after the show since we are feeling very patriotic toward our fair city.  As usual, we dissect everything about the show and agree that it was killer.  We say our goodbyes and head home in opposite directions.  My neck is killing me the next day.  My ears ring for what feels like days, but its a badge of honor I’m happy to wear.

After all, I was at Local H’s 25th Anniversary bash!

Written By Fusion Alternative Blogger: Jason Polakowski

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