Story and Photography by Meredith Goldberg
Windy City Sensation returned in Chicago over the weekend of July 16-17, taking over Liar’s Club for two nights of a loud and rowdy rock cocktail with a twist of punk and hardcore. The iconic bar/venue on West Fullerton Avenue played host to a multitude of bands all competing for title of most hyper-energetic set.
Of course, the music was pretty damn good too.
Jump starting the weekend were some well-liked sons of the Windy City, Bad Sons. The Chicago born and bred street punk crew has two modes working in conjunction “Fast. Loud.” The band hit its targets on both.
Though no exact stats available at the moment, Milwaukee might be the non-Chicago city with the highest number of bands having played at Liar’s Club. Convert, the first of the weekend’s several Milwaukee bands, followed Band Sons. Convert made up of musicians from two different hometown scenes: punk rock, and electronic music. Somewhat obscured through a very dense layer of blue fog its performance nonetheless broke through strong and clear.
Some Hearts is based out of both Tulsa, OK and Los Angeles, CA, which one member, Niah Bervin, joked was “weird, I know haha,” found its way into the heart of the opening night crowd with its energetic set.
Criminal Kids has around for a while and has deservedly developed a reputation for rollicking sets. From the regularity of the band’s appearances at Liar’s, it is obvious this is a favorite spot for them. It even recorded a live record at the venue in September 2021. All of this contributed to a sense the band was very much at home, among friends, on the compact stage at 1665 W. Fullerton. Its performance did not disappoint.
From Criminal Kids immediately to a crime of another sort. Crime Line comes out of Norfolk, one of the cities making up Hampton Roads, a metropolitan area in southeastern Virginia. (Note: it is also where I lived for several years so I know the area well) Along with its Naval facilities, Hampton Roads might be musically best known for homegrown hip-hop legends Missy Elliott and Pharrell Williams. As shown in the documentary, “Hardcore Norfolk: The Movie” (2011) it also has a strong punk rock legacy. The most well-known of which is likely Waxing Poetics. Crime Line carries that legacy forward with its rambunctious performance. Lead singer Ray Braza might have been purposefully or perhaps subconsciously but bloodily inspired by Jack “Choke” Kelly from legendary Boston hardcore band Slapshot. Braza smashed up his own head with the resulting blood running down his face and garishly mixing with sweat to soak his white t-shirt failed to stop him. Alas, it was difficult to determine if tears completed the metaphorical holy trinity symbolizing the hard work it takes to succeed.
Capping off night 1 was Dinos Boys out of Atlanta Georgia. Chase Tail pulled triple duty for the weekend. Tail is the lead singer for both Dinos Boys and RMBLR, with each band at the top of its respective night’s bill. In addition, Tail organized the event. However, if he was exhausted at any point, it did not show.
Aces, from Milwaukee, got the Sunday session off to a pummeling start with its no flash all thrash set. The band appeared to be buoyed by its latest EP, released this year, “Raw Deal,” which includes the single, “Outta Time.”
Flesh Panthers are vets of the Second City punk scene. Revrend Zombotron led the group with an enthusiasm which led the crowd to slam against the stages and the walls surrounding the compact stage. Flesh Panthers’ lively performance was a highlight among many highlights during the Windy City Sensation 2022 weekend.
And then there was Baltimore’s BBQT. The 5-piece crew from Charm City delivered an especially exciting set. Gabbie “Sleaze-E-G” Torres dominated both the stage and the floor. At times she appeared ready slither right off the stage. Thankfully, the stage is built fairly low to the ground. Her bandmate, guitarist Alex Briscoe, brought to mind a whirling dervish with his nearly continuous spins. He remained in perpetual motion for the duration of the BBQT set.
Closing out the weekend, RMBLR left the crowd panting and exhausted. Event organizer Chase Tail growled into the mic, slashing across the stage. At one point he dropped to the floor of the stage and proceeded to easily do one-handed push-ups.
Despite a few brief technical glitches with sound gear and guitar straps, the weekend was a bit of chaotic glory. If there is a Windy City Sensation 2023 there will be high expectations to meet. I have little doubt that organizers can and will exceed those expectations.
Please see below for more images from Windy City Sensation.