Live: Buzzcocks – September 22, 2016 – Chicago, Illinois


Buzzcocks make things better.

I’d planned to make it to Chicago an hour before show time so I’d have a chance to meet with a friend and grab a leisurely bite to eat with her.  That plan was dashed, however, when the Lowe’s appliance delivery service showed up nearly two hours late with our new washer and dryer.  My wife had to come home from work early so I could leave for the show.

On the way to Chicago, I chose the slowest moving toll road booth lane nearly every time.  Once on Sheffield and near the Vic Theatre, I thought my luck had taken a good turn when I found a sweet parking spot just a block from the venue.  I then discovered it was only for people with the “383 permit sticker” on their cars.  That wasn’t me, so I ended up parking eight blocks away.  I walked to the venue and was turned away by security due to me having a digital voice recorder I’d brought in case I had a chance to interview Buzzcocks before (if the delivery drivers had arrived on time) or after the show.  I had to walk back to my car to leave the recorder in it.  Of course, there is a voice recorder app on my cell phone and every other cell phone in the building, but apparently security didn’t realize or care about that.

I managed to grab a sandwich before the show and breezed into security without issue.  I walked in and immediately spotted the merchandise table.  A wavering drunken man was looking at the shirts with his buddy.  I heard the woman behind the table ask the drunk guy, “So you came to see a band you hate?”

“I didn’t always hate them,” he said.  “I liked them before they sold out.”

I chuckled.  Buzzcocks have never sold out, no matter how you define that.

I met up with my friend and we got a nice spot on the main floor about five bodies back from the front of the stage.  Buzzcocks came out and immediately broke into one of their fastest, hardest hits – “Boredom.”  The show was anything but boring, as it turned out.

Not boring whatsoever.

They tore through classic cuts like “Fast Cars” (a personal favorite), “Totally from the Heart,” and “I Don’t Mind,” and cuts from their newest album, The Way, like “People Are Strange Machines” and “Virtual Reality.”  Unfortunately, some of these songs were drowned out by the bass mix being too loud, but the sound board guys corrected it by the time Buzzcocks got to “Why She’s a Girl from the Chainstore.”

Pete Shelley – still sounding great.
Steve Diggle – still shredding great.

This was also about the time two girls tried to get a mosh pit going.  They finally succeeded, bringing in two people, then four, then six, and finally up to about ten or twelve.  This was about the time someone made a bad decision.

An old school British punk rocker, probably in his 60’s, decided to walk from one side of the main floor to the other, along the edge of the mosh pit, with a full cup of beer in each hand.  He was surprised and angry when a young man in the pit accidentally bumped into him and caused him to spill half of each beer on his shirt.  Again, why he thought something like this wouldn’t happen at a punk rock show is beyond me.

The old schooler was instantly pissed.  He chugged one half-cup and poured the other on top of the young guy’s head (who thought that was great).  The old schooler then stepped to the back of the pit and waited, right fist balled up and ready.  This poor guy missed Buzzcocks tearing through fun cuts like “Last to Know,” “Unthinkable,” “Autonomy,” and “Breakdown” while he waited to get within arm’s reach of the young guy.  He eventually slugged him (a glancing blow) and four of us pulled them apart.  The old schooler kept yelling about his shirt being ruined as he walked away from the pit.  Security never showed up.  It was up to us to break it up and keep the pit civil.  That’s a punk rock show for you.

Pure punk power.

I got in the pit for the finale, which included “Orgasm Addict,” “What Do I Get,” “Ever Fallen in Love?,” and “Harmony in My Head.”  I was the oldest guy in there, and I was able to keep up with the young’uns.

Steve Diggle getting us to sing “Harmony in My Head” with him.

Buzzcocks were more than able to keep up with them, too.  They played hard, fast, and loud.  They reminded everyone there that they haven’t sold out.  I hope that wavering drunk was paying attention.

Thanks, lads, for keeping it 100, as the young kids in the pit say.

Keep your mind open.

[Thanks to John for setting up my press credentials for the show.]

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Nik Havert

I've been a music fan since my parents gave me a record player for Christmas when I was still in grade school. The first record I remember owning was "Sesame Street Disco." I've been a professional writer since 2004, but writing long before that. My first published work was in a middle school literary magazine and was a story about a zoo in which the animals could talk.

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