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A Concert Review

August 17, 1998

House of Blues

Chicago, IL

A Review and Photos by
The Dude on the Right
Mike Herrera
The House of Blues in Chicago can be a weird place to see a show - any show. If the show isn't sold out by fans you can usually count on a bunch of tourists chatting away and annoying you as you try to pay attention. If the show is sold out then you better get there early, unless you're tall or you like staring at a sea of heads. I was running a little late on my way to see MxPx, and I'm short, and I was worried. But then I found out another "good to know" fact - if it's an all ages show and sold out, then the upper-balcony becomes the old-fart section, or at least the over 21 section, where you get the likes of parents who brought their kids, or 21-and-overs who are tired of dealing with teenage, punk kids. Luckily for me I found a way-cool stool on the edge of the balcony, looking down on the stage, able to see the soon-to-be mosh-pit, between a dad and a cute 22ish year old girl.

Well it didn't take MxPx long to get their set fired up with their mostly punk but kinda pop sound. Three dudes armed with a guitar, a bass, and a drum set, teamed with a quick sound and sing-able lyrics, and the young crowd on the floor below was instantly in mosh and body-surf mode. Out in support of their release "Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo" on A&M Records, they played a lot of their new songs, which I knew, and some of their old songs, of which the only one I could really identify was "Chick Magnet" because, well, they said something like "The next song is 'Chick Magnet'". But knowing the songs or not, it was really cool to see a band busting their asses on stage with a crowd that knew their role - when the mosh-pit should slow during the song, and when the frenzy should hit full steam, and in-tempo even.

Mike Herrera generally is leading the way on vocals, bass guitar, and witty crowd banter, while Tom Wisniewski is blasting away on guitar, and Yuri Ruley pounding the drums. The songs are just what you might expect from a punk-pop band - usually way up-tempo, usually around two and a half minutes long, and just making you want to nod your head up in down enough to give you a neck-ache the next morning. But, where many associate punk-rockers with a lot of whining and complaining about being misunderstood, MxPx songs read more like stories of people growing up, taking control or responsibility, or just dealing with it. The songs on the CD, as well as them blowing them out live, are catchy, to the point, and really just reminded me of how every now and then I really miss the likes of decent punk bands, or how I need to get out more often.

Tom Wisniewski
So, we had a hard-driving, guitars in your face, just try to keep up if you can kind of band called MxPx on the stage; we had the youngins mixing it up in the mosh-pit (complete with a flying garbage can); and we had the oldins up in the balcony either totally getting it or having no clue, wondering how their son or daughter could like such noise. There's nothing flashy about MxPx - their show is straight and to the point and that is one of the things I really liked about seeing them. And Mike can even handle the hecklers, although he seemed like he felt bad after doing it - the story goes like this: MxPx was opening for the headliner, so it is safe to assume not everyone there was an MxPx fan, although most of the people seemed to be enjoying the show. Well, before the song "Set the Record Straight" a dude yells out "You suck!" Mike comes back "So, what band are you in?" Something was mumbled from the dude in the crowd to which Mike further comes back, "Then why aren't you up here if we suck?" I'm thinking "Ouch! - great comeback!" But then, a little later, Mike kinda seemed like he felt bad for bustin' on the dude and tried to back-pedal a bit. Oh well. I just found it kind of cool Mike totally sticking up for his band.

With the end of their set it was time for me to leave, and MxPx now goes on the "keep an eye out for them the next time their in town list." And as I'm getting off my stool some dad-looking dude asks me "What band was that?" "MxPx," I say. More like "S.u.x.," he comes back. I give him that "Whatever," look, but am thinking in the back of my head, "Yea, and what band are you in?"

Now, I would end the review here, but I've got to make a mention of the band the came before MxPx - Homegrown. It was your punk/pop sound, and the songs were cool, but a few things just made me smile a lot during their set. One - they had a "just having fun" attitude, playing their punk sound but acting, well, like a bunch of little kids running around on stage. Two - you've got to love a band that takes the song "Barbie Girl" and makes it punk. And Three - the Asian, or "Vietnamese dude from Oklahoma," but in any case the guitar player, with "I Eat Dog" painted on his guitar. The band just made me smile.

Well, in any case, for MxPx (and Homegrown too) I had a good time, I think just about everyone except for a couple of dudes and a couple of dads didn't, so it's TWO "WHAT BAND ARE YOU IN?" THUMBS UP! for MxPx.

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!


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