Skate punk legends, with origins in Phoenix, AZ, and Southern CA, JFA (Jodie Foster’s Army) return to Chicago for the first time in more than two decades. The Dwarves put on a great set as for first time live they ripped though their classic album “The Dwarves are Young + Good Looking,”and then rumbled through other songs as well as the night’s headliner. Local punks The Bollweevils got a rowdy summer send off; I Attack, another local punk band, attacked ferociously; Decent Criminal played a set far more than merely decent.
Taking nothing away from The Dwarves and their terrific set; however, it was JFA that appeared to garner the most excitement and whip the crowd into their most frenzied. And not just from fans in the crowd, but numerous fans in the bands sharing the bill as well. Some other musicians expressing that JFA was THE inspiration for them to get into the punk rock game.
JFA lead singer Brian Brannon frenetically covered most of the stage, dancing and jumping on every bit of stopping only for the briefest of moments here and there to catch his breath, this allowed band mates, Don Redondo on guitar, Corey Stretz on bass; and drummer Carter Blitch to shine in their own moments. The set was dominated by classics from their early days. JFA was officially (according to their cited history) formed just 10 days prior to the attempted but failed assassination of former President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley Jr. Hinckley Jr. famously admitted the reasoning for attempting to kill Reagan was to impress actress Jodie Foster. Guitarist Don Redondo explained that they were partially inspired by the Dead Kennedys’ political tweaking in choosing a band name. Redondo also added that the climate of increased political and social division also inspired a new track on their as of yet scheduled upcoming release. They played the new track “N/Tolerance” on Friday, with the simple credo of “Just Don’t Be A Dick.”
As noted, perhaps the biggest admirers were in the other bands on the bill, and Redondo spent much of the evening offstage engaged in conversation with drummer Pete Mumford. Mumford is a member of the legendary Chicago punk outfit, The Bollweevils, which lit the stage on fire once again immediately prior to JFA. Redondo and Mumford had a continuing dialogue about the best drummers and bass players in rock history, or at least their favorites (which included drummers Keith Moon, Neil Peart and John Bonham; and bass player John Entwistle.) Redondo spoke of his belief in the best way to craft a new band, “Start with a great drummer and a great bass player and build from there.”
Don Redondo also spoke of the reasons for the long absence from Chicago: busy lives, other jobs (including Brannon’s other career, as Senior Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy Reserve), families; and added that while the band is not changing its name from Jodie Foster’s Army, its motto as of late could be thought of as Jodie Foster’s National Guard. That is, “one weekend once a month.”Judging from the reception they received at Reggies Rock Club, the crowd may be asking for far more than that, but were ecstatic and grateful for the band’s return.
As mentioned, The Dwarves and The Bollweevils both lit up the stage as expected. And in the case of Daryl Wilson, the lead singer for beloved Chicago legends The Bollweevils (and namesakes of a 2016 IPA collaboration with 350 Brewing, “Weevil Wobble”) lit most of the area off stage on fire as well He repeatedly threw his 6′ 5″ frame into the welcoming arms of the crowd.
The Bollweevils are not scheduled to play again in their home region until they return from their journey to Blackpool, United Kingdom. They are confirmed for Rebellion Festival 2017, taking place in early August, along with their friend sin another Chicago favorite, 88 Fingers Louie.
Decent Criminal, from Northern California, started the night off strong fashion with straightforward punk, proving that a show can be solid and rowdy from first note by the opening band to last note from the headliners.
I Attack, led by the one man wrecking crew of Rob V. “Jak,” may have been be the cause of the most colorization of the crowd members, as in ending up black and blue; and purple. Many showing their colorful souvenirs from the set seemed to have smiles on their faces, accompanied by expressions of half disbelief. If there was a Richter Scale equivalent in Circle Pits, the pure rowdiness whipped up by I Attack might, conservatively speaking, hit the 7 plus to 8 range.
This show had a bit of everything for from start to finish and may very well have thrown down the gauntlet for top to bottom billed, non-fest punk shows this summer. It is s summer is still in its infancy with many promising such events on tap, but judging from this night, it will hopefully be long and hot in the very best ways. Head below to check out our full photo gallery from the intense evening!