ChiTown Futbol is a great place for a show like this. Since this would be the only Midwest appearance of the mighty Infest, it was obvious that a lot of space was needed. This spot delivers. The room is cavernous, with huge ceilings, walls lined with merch tables, and room for hundreds of anxious punkers. Despite its massive size, the place still had a DIY feel that you can’t get at a lot of typical rock clubs or concert venues. Plus, as a bonus, it still sounds good. The venue was a great choice.
Due to some general lateness on my part, I managed to miss the two local openers, Gas Rag and Violent End. Luckily, both these raging hardcore acts hail from my home of Chicago, so I have plenty of chances to see them. I strolled tardily through the door just in time to see UK’s Hard Skin setting up. This band was the odd one out at the show. While the other acts were all known for playing a version of hardcore punk, Hard Skin is straight forward English Oi. This band has been around for nearly two decades at this point and can still play a good set of rock n’ roll influenced first wave punk. All three members share vocal duties, a method that compliments the style well, filling the songs with riotous gang chants and back and forth vocal trade-offs. Their combination of rollicking punk tunes with hilarious, goofy, and over-the-top antagonistic stage banter made for a solid set.
Next up was, in my book, the main attraction of the night – California’s Infest. This band was one of the first powerviolence bands I heard that really hooked me in. Their songs are fast, vicious, and unique enough to be memorable. A gold standard for the genre they helped invent, Infest has been playing a few random shows in 2013. I’d heard pretty good things about their past performances, but I still was a little wary of what I’d see. I tempered my expectations. Those expectations were blown away. Infest was an intense, bulldozer of hardcore punk fury. The guitar slashed through the room as the bass and drums locked in perfectly. The vocalist looked possessed, his eyes bulging as he shouted the words to each song with intensity and ferocity. To top it off, the band played a great mix of songs from their whole discography while still playing an appropriately timed set (my standard: less than 30 minutes long). I never thought I’d see Infest in my lifetime. Then, I never thought it would be phenomenal. I was wrong twice. Go see them if you have a chance.
Los Crudos, the progenitors of Chicago’s south side hardcore scene, were the last to play. After a quick word from their well-spoken frontman Martin, the band blasted into action. Once Crudos originally stopped playing, the members didn’t stop being in bands and it was clear by their performance that none of them were out of practice. The drumming was tight, pounding, and precise. The guitar and bass played off each other perfectly, while Martin leapt from one side of the stage to the other with seemingly unending energy. The band played a good array of material from their vast discography and, between songs, Martin peppered in some of the finest song explanations I’ve heard in some time. One short speech, an earnest story about how punk and hardcore can actually have a lasting and immeasurable effect on people’s lives, was one of the highlights of the entire night for me. Los Crudos were, and continue to be, a band that is unrivaled in energy, passion, and intelligence in hardcore punk.