Motoblot 2017 was held at Cobra Lounge/All Rise Brewing again this year, June 23-25th. This is the 4th year since the event evolved from the decade long Mods vs Rockers Chicago. Motoblot celebrates motorculture, especially inspired by that of 1960’s Great Britain, per festival assistant Nick Goodwin, a self-described petrol-head. Co-Founder Lawrence R. Fletcher estimated the total weekend attendance at 12,000. He told me it was their biggest year to date. “The weather was fabulous and I am sure Sean (McKeough) something to do with it.”
Sean McKeough, who joined founders Fletcher and Martin Cimek, as a partner the 2nd year of Motoblot, and was also the co-founder of Riot Fest and owner of Cobra Lounge, passed away last November.This year’s event was another chance to celebrate his life. A patch reading “McQ,” as McKeough was affectionally known, adorned Motoblot shirts worn by organizers and staffers. Saturday evening, before that night’s headliners kicked off their set, a group of bagpipers played, as friends and family gathered around and revved McKeough’s collection of motorcycles for what was described as one last time.
The music was the centerpiece of the festival. Saturday’s lineup included, among others, three Chicago based bands with varied styles and devoted following inside the city and out: The Crombies; The Beer Nuts; and Pegboy. The Crombies’ performed mostly covers of 2 Tone classics with a few originals sprinkled in. Their rollicking set transformed the parking lot in front of the stage into a dance floor. Among the highlights were “English Civil War” (The Clash); “Lip Up Fatty” (Bad Manners ) and “Monkey Man” (Maytals via The Specials); The Crombies’ original “It’s Not You”; and a reworked version of “Mad at the World” originally written by lead singer Mike Park for his former band Deal’s Gone Bad. The set also included: “Plastic Gangsters” by The 4-Skins; “Hooligans” by the Wailers “Hey, Little Rich Girl” by Roddie Radiation and The Specials, “Wash Wash” by Prince Buster, Gangsters by The Specials; “It’s You” by Toots and the Maytals, “Blood and Fire” by Niney the Observer; “Little Bitch” by the Specials.
The Beer Nuts is described in their Facebook fan page as “Chicago’s most notorious party band.” and advises fans to “Bring a raincoat and Silly String for a night of maximum rock and roll and random sex with strangers.” The band’s mission statement could read simply, “fun” but the group is composed of veterans of Chicago’s punk scene, including: Joe Kelly (Ministry), Herb Rosen (Rights of the Accused; as well as the founder and owner of Chicago’s Liar’s Club), Leanne Murray (Pig Face), Louis Svitek (Ministry), Mike O’Connell (ROTA). At Motoblot, official members of Beer Nuts were joined by others including Vee Sonnets (The Crombies; The Sonnets); Dave Simon (Deal’s Gone Bad; The Crombies; Anger); and Scott Lucas (Local H; Scott Lucas and the Married Men). Beer Nuts shows consist of such songs as “Who’s Got The Yea Yo,” “Blow Me For Beer,” “Woke Up Tied Up” and “Pro Vag.” If you’re interested in neither having fun nor getting doused from flying cups of brew, and continuously flowing bongs, it’s best you head to the rear of the venue or festival grounds to wait for party’s end. And if you are documenting the show or for any other reasons have gear, take cue from the sight of the plastic covered speakers on stage and protect your equipment.
Headliner/Chicago legends, Pegboy gave what seemed to be one of their most highly energetic shows of late. Lead singer Larry Damore, dispensed with the guessing game familiar to Pegboy fans in recent years— at which song would he sit down on stage (and on occasion take his own pulse)? At about the second song he joked to the crowd that they would just get it over with. Damore would return to that position throughout the set, at times dangling his legs over the side of the stage, or lying flat on his back. However, he also repeatedly jumped off, or, slid himself off, the stage to pace in and sing from the photo pit. Numerous times he returned to the makeshift barricade to sing at and within the crowd and, on at least one occasion, surf above it. The barricade held Damore, the photographers scrambling for shots; and the crowd, though it was in continuous sway throughout the set.
“Skinny” Mike Thompson roamed furiously over much of the stage, slinging his bass up and bowing low, in seeming perpetual motion. His bass work; and Joe Haggerty’s ferocious drumming, along with Joe’s brother, guitarist John Haggerty’s propulsive playing provided the hyperdrive heartbeat to Damore’s gritty and growling vocals.Their setlist did not disappoint, including “Strong Reaction” near the start and closing out with “Hardlight.” The group propelled through others such as “Superstar”, “Through My Fingers,” “Field of Darkness”; and the song Damore joked was responsible for making him independently wealthy, that is, “Revolver,” Pegboy’s driving cover of the Mission of Burma classic “That’s When I reach for my Revolver.” The rest of the set included: “Still Uneasy,” “Not What I Want,” “Locomotivelung,” “Witnessed,” “Fade Away,” “Time Again,” “Never A Question,” “Dangermare,” “Walk On By,” and “Line Up.”
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