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Tales of a Post-Grad Nothing

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chuck Ragan Is a Rock Star (And Matt Skiba Is Pretty Good Too)

I love Chicago. I mean, I love love Chicago in the same way that people who move to New York from the Midwest all of a sudden become hyper-New Yorkians even before they've unpacked their boxes and gotten jobs. The only people in New York who wear the t-shirts are people who were not born there. The only people who walk around Chicago perma-smiling are idiots like myself who are enamored with sketch comedy shows and cheap double feature movies and turtle-racing bars (?!)

One of the main reasons I like Chicago is that there is the sheer number of unexpectedly awesome things. A week ago I went to see Chuck Ragan (from Hot Water Music) and Matt Skiba (from Alkaline Trio) play a face-meltingly sweet show. I don't see a lot of shows, mainly on account of the fact that I'm not cool at all and spend a disproportionate amount of time listening to Meat Loaf and watching reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger (a fantastically awful clip of which can be found here. Warning: Contains red-hot Western showdown action and some pretty sweet slowmo shots of Norris' behatted man mane).

Going into the aforementioned show, I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing since:

A) I hate Chuck Ragan's former band as well as the book of the same name. If I had to list THINGS I WOULD THROW IN A CANYON IF GIVEN THE CHANCE, both the band and the book would be on that list. Thankfully I don't live near any canyons or else my semi cross-eyed second grade teacher and whoever canceled Arrested Development would find themselves in a heap o' trouble.

and B) The opening band was this whiny acoustic trio and as soon as they came out, the lead singer closed his eyes and half-whispered into the mic "This is a song about a long winter." Songs about sad long winters populated by quiet depressed people who probably own a lot of cats and turtlenecks and smoke cigarettes from holders just make me want to break things. All I could think was Jesus, why don't we all just start menstruating and go home to eat chocolate and watch Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? I'm an insensitive jerk.

Bukowski and bodily functions aside, Chuck Ragan is, as the subject header would indicate, a rock star. The show was awesome. I don't mean awesome in the way that high school kids who smell like Axe body spray use to describe their really "awesome" demo tape they made in their Mom's garage (high five bro!)*. I mean awe-inspiring, awesome in the way that one would describe a volcano or a time machine or a giant squid. Chuck Ragan sounds a lot like Henry Rollins (swoon!) to me and when paired with an acoustic guitar, his music comes across as sounding gravelly and beautiful. It's the kind of music that would be the appropriate soundtrack if you were a coal miner who had lost his wife and kids in a fire and were dead set on drowning your sorrow in gritty man verse and whisk[e]y. Chuck Ragan's music sounds like he's got nothing left in this world but a bindle full of regrets he's hauling down a slow road to hell. I can get behind that kind of depression.

Tonight I'm headed to a Moroccan restaurant then maybe to a karaoke bar. This weekend there are plans in the works for art institute-age and frenzied plays performed at warp speed and maybe a bar that features midget wrestling although the poor reviews make me skeptical. There are also Elvis impersonators and gameboy rockstars and a bar that features "Live Manimals" to be seen. Sometimes when I think about the fact that right this very second Angelina Jolie AND people who describe themselves as Manimals are running around the place where I live, I get the same feeling my friend Newman gets when he drinks too much and goes around the room telling each person exactly how much he loves them. Chicago, you're a dreamboat.

I promise that this will be the last overly gushy post about the windy city. Your regularly scheduled dose of cynicism and angst will resume tomorrow.

* I make fun because I tried and failed to date every single one of those kids when I was in high school.



At 11:02 AM, Blogger /\ said...

i only occasionally get to chicago, and haven't been completely won over as of yet, but i'm sure the midget wrestling would seal the deal.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger paper napkin said...

We might be moving to Chicago, and as much as I hate (with the fire of a thousand suns) the thought of moving to another state, this post actually gave me hope it could be something great.

At 4:39 PM, Blogger d said...

how brilliant is joe's?! i used to live down the street...talk about the greatest neighborhood entertainment EVER.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger d said...

oh, and please never set foot in bar chicago. ew.

At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Do they still have a bar called Sluggers in Chicago? I loved Sluggers. Couldn't stand the city, but man did I love Sluggers.

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous kerrianne said...

Giant squids ARE pretty awesome.

(We are going to see Henry Rollins in November! I will wet my pants in glee if (my) Chris hasn't done so already.)


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