The foremost punk rock supergroup cover band hit the House of Blues in Chicago, IL on the first day of October 2022. The band brought the humor and fun, performing others’ classics but at break-neck speed.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes has a rotating cast of characters. At this House of Blues Chicago, only one of the original members, Spike Slawson, was on stage. Joey Cape of Lagwagon and Fat Mike of NOFX were unable to join Slawson due to both bands being on tour. However, Slawson did have a pretty solid set of bandmates: CJ Ramone on bass, Speedo aka John “The Swami” Reis of Rocket From the Crypt on guitar, Jake Kiley from Strung Out, and Andrew “Pinch” Pinching formerly of The Damned, on drums. The entire band was decked out in white denim and glittery pink shirts, accented by white ties Slawson added a white sports jacket and Elton John style specs, as well his Lounge Lizard persona.
The band zoomed through a pair of John Denver tunes, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and “Take Me Home Country Roads,” as well as Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up,” “ScienceFiction/Double Feature” by Richard O’Brien
The set also featured Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time)” by Elton John, “Mandy,” by Barry Manilow and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes serves up a reliably good time, no matter what the lineup at any given time. It’s all in good fun, though there was an early oof moment when Slawson joked about John Denver’s skills as a helicopter pilot (Denver died when the home-made aircraft he was flying crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board determined the crash to pilot errors). Aside from that, the band members play with an earnestness rather than a mocking spirit underneath the levity. They seem to be enjoying this insouciant break from their “day jobs.” The crowd was all for it and left asking for more.
The Black Tones, on its first national tour, got the show started in a big way. The duo, comprised of Eva Walker on vocals and guitar, and her twin brother Cedric Walker on drums and vocals, have built a devoted fan base in the state of Washington. The Seattle duo’s hit song, “The Key Of Black (They Want Us Dead)” speaks to police brutality fueled by racism.The name of the Walkers’ first album, Cobain & Cornbread, is a nod to both their hometown of the Emerald City, and their family’s southern roots in Louisiana.
On stage, joined by family as back-up musicians and singers they soared. Eva Walker is both an indefatigable shredder and a dynamic vocalist. Cedric Walker is a thunderous drummer, every bash complementing his sister’s swaggering stage presence. With songs like “Mr. Pink,” “Ghetto Spaceship,” and “Mama, There’s A Spider In My Room,” this band will continue to knock the socks off of those lucky enough to see them in the future.
In the middle slot of the evening were the rising stars in Son Rompe Pera. The band, like The Black Tones, is led by siblings. The three brothers Gama: The two Marimberos/Vocalists, Mongo and Kacho, and percussionist/vocalist Kilos. The family is from Naucalpan de Juárezon the outskirts of Mexico City. They are joined in Son Rompe Pera by Raul Albarrán on bass and Albarrán’s cousin, Richi López on drums. The band has played nearly every size of music venue, and was interviewed by National Public Radio. They were also featured in a video for NPR’s Tiny Desk Sessions, On this Windy City Saturday night, Son Rompe Pera buoyantly showcased its sound which is traditional marimba music and cumbia fused with garage punk and psychobilly. Marimberos Kacho’s and Mongo’s synchronized rapid fire banging of their mallets across their marimbas, whilst furiously dancing, building momentum, caused them to appear breathless as they hit the crescendos. Those moments elicited gasps from the crowd followed by roaring cheers. Son Rompe Pera did not just warm up the crowd for the headliners, Instead, it was introducing to many of the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes fans a piece of the members’ heritages and family traditions. In the process, they were also garnering new fans of their music and of the marimba and cumbia.
See below for more photos from the show!