There is something especially fun about a DIY show. Abnormal House, in the Bridgeport neighborhood of the Second City hosted a Friday night version which was no exception. Chicago vets Voice of Addiction were joined by the young gents of Billy Batts & The Made Men out of Atlanta. Wrex, also from Chicago, kicked off the party. I’m going to let the images do most of the work for this show.
Voice of Addiction once again were the speed demons of the bill, zooming through a tight set in even tighter confines. It got so wild in the tiny performance area, at one point Leea Tomele stretched her arms out as far as possible and set her legs hard in place on the concrete floor to act as a one-person barricade against the much larger attendees thrashing about. A few others joined in holding the line so Tomele’s husband, VOA founding bass player Ian Tomele, and his bandmates, guitarist Tyler Miller, and drummer Kevin Amaro could continue playing. Yeah, it got a bit nuts. But that energy is what draws people to these more informal events (note: all safety precautions were in place).
I have regularly covered the terrific annual Blue Island event, Beer Can’d Fest. However, the Rise Against Residency at Metro kept me away from the Southside soiree. Many of my friends who were on Blue Island excitedly told me of this young band in the lineup. Looking at their photos from the event I saw a group of teens and just out of teens, one posing in a Pegboy shirt and became curious. Luckily, the band, Billy Batts & The Made Men out of Atlanta, GA made a quick return to Chicago.
I do not want to say too much about the band here as I will be writing more about it later. With the band’s name a wink and a nod to one my favorite films, Goodfellas, and the members’ collective deep-cut knowledge of Chicago punk rock history and an infectious curiosity, Brody Wilson, 21, this time in a Naked Raygun t-shirt, on vocals and guitar, his brother Andy Wilson, 16 on drums and Slade Shirah, 20, filling in on bass, were a charming centerpiece to the show as they absolutely transformed a garage band style venue into almost literally shaking shack. They might be considered kids, but these Made Men play with composure and talent befitting more experienced musicians. Jason Wilson, father of the Wilson brothers, was on site as tour manager and merch guy. His pride shone through, along with his easy, affectionate manner, as he let the young men take it all in.
When I first started taking photos of Wrex I wasn’t sure exactly how many people were in the band. Again, the space was tiny, and hanging from the rafter were glittery strands of plastic and an incredibly wide variety of signs, dolls, and other assorted Tchotchkes from creepy to cute. A few songs in I realized there was a keyboard player tucked up high against a wall and another singer I thought was a crowd member. But when you can sit on the floor and capture all band members, once you have spotted them, you know this is likely to be a rowdy fun time. And indeed it was.
DIY Shows, House Shows or the like are not for everyone. Had it not been for my camera, I might have felt far more claustrophobic. But they feel far more organic and relaxed than large events. They provide an opportunity for newer and/or lesser-known bands to take the spotlight and it’s not unusual to find bigger bands at these shows. Being a house shows makes me feel like I am inside one of the iconic late 1970’s, early 1980’s images many of us are pretty familiar with by this point. Crawl inside more images from this night. Thanks & Cheers!