You Weren’t There premiere

You Weren’t There premiere

The Saturday after Riot Fest saw the premiere of You Weren’t There which is a documentary about the Chicago punk rock scene from 1977-1984. The premiere was shown at the Portage Theater and after the movie there was a special reunion show at Beat Kitchen with a few bands from the old days that were featured in the movie.

When we got to the theater there was already a pretty size-able crowd. In fact by the time it started there wasn’t an empty seat in the house and the place must have had about 1000 seats! It was a huge turnout full of both old timers from the scene as well as some younger punks from the current crop of Chicago punks. It was cool to see such an interest from younger folks as I figured it would just be us old timers (and timers much older than me).

The movie tells the story of the origins of the Chicago punk scene. It starts with the first punk clubs like La Mere Vipere and goes on to the evolution of clubs like Oz and the like. They do a very good job telling the evolution of the clubs and describing what they were like both from the perspective of the former owners as well as the patrons.

The scene just wasn’t about the clubs, but also the bands that formed through friendships made at said clubs. The movie does a pretty good job covering not only the more well known acts such as Naked Raygun, The Effigies, Strike Under and Articles of Faith, but also covers the more obscure like DA, Mentally Ill, and Tutu and the Pirates. The bands are given pretty equal amounts of time and their stories are told in a really excellent way so you get a pretty complete history on them and even their evolution and demise.

Just like the punk scene in general they also get into the topic of the evolution from the old punk style to hardcore and what it did to the scene. They also touched briefly near the end about how punk reached out into the suburbs and how it spawned a whole scene out there including bands like Negative Element who much to my delight were given ample screen time in this movie.

The movie was extremely entertaining and educational. I learned a lot about the days before my involvement in punk rock that I didn’t know before watching this. It was also at times humorous and even confrontational (who knew Vic Bondi would hold a grudge against Steve Albini for over two decades!). The time flew by and the next thing I knew the lights were turned on and the room was filled with applause.

From there it was on to Beat Kitchen for the special reunion show featuring four old bands from the old days. I was really looking forward to this show because it was finally my chance to see Negative Element, who I missed back when we were kids because I didn’t meet any of them until shortly after the band broke up.


End Result


End Result


End Result


End Result


End Result

First up were End Result who were perhaps the most out there art punk band in the history of Chicago. They played a wide array of bizarre sounds and at one point had a young girl up on stage singing a song with them. The younger folks in attendance seemed to be scratching their heads not knowing what to make of what was going on up on the stage and that is exactly the magic of End Result. They played about a half hour and were really out there the whole time.


Negative Element


Negative Element


Negative Element


Negative Element

Next came the highlight of the evening for me, Negative Element. My love for Negative Element has been well documented over the years on this site so this was a real big deal for me. Sadly Keith Lyons was unable to get here from Germany for the event so Anthony Illarde from Rights of the Accused filled in for him and even was sporting crazy striped pants like Keith used to have! Anthony took his job so serious of trying to make this as authentic as possible he even said he learned all of Keith’s mistakes in the songs too! As he, Tom, Legendary Chopper and Barry took the stage the place suddenly was packed from front to back and the people seemed to be pretty excited.


Negative Element


Negative Element


Negative Element


Negative Element


Negative Element


Negative Element

The band played their entire Yes We Have No Bananas EP along with a few other songs. Near the end, their original singer Sparky took the stage and sang a couple of songs with them too. The band had been rehearsing for this gig and it showed, the songs really sounded great and I can’t begin to tell you what a treat it was to hear “Anti Pac Man” live after listening to that song probably a million times in the last 20 something years of my life. Everyone on stage and in the crowd were having a great time throughout the entire set.


“Strike Under”


“Strike Under”


“Strike Under”


“Strike Under”


“Strike Under”

“Strike Under” soon followed. I use the name in quotes because it wasn’t the original band, it was the original singer plus Anthony Illarde, Joe Losurdo and some other gentleman. They billed themselves a a “Strike Under cover band” when they took the stage so that is why I’m using the quotes, not out of disrespect. They played the entire Immediate Action EP in order and it sounded great. It was obvious they took their time to practice and really make it sound good. It was really cool to hear those songs played live even if it was only 25% authentic.


Jeff Pezzati and “Strike Under”


“Strike Under” with Jeff Pezzati

When they finished the EP they said they had a special guest in the crowd that was going to sing something with them and Jeff Pezzati came up on stage and they band did the entire first side of Naked Raygun’s Basement Screams EP with Jeff singing. It was really cool and people went nuts for it!


The Mentally Ill


The Mentally Ill


The Mentally Ill


The Mentally Ill

After a bit of a delay in changing equipment, the last big reunion of the evening took place and that was The Mentally Ill taking the stage with their original lineup to perform for the first time ever with it! They played every twisted, demented song in their arsenal until they didn’t have any left, and the crowd demanded more so they came back and played “Gacy’s Place” for a second time! They sounded great and they really should play out more often because everyone in attendance that evening was really digging their set, myself included.


The Mentally Ill


The Mentally Ill


The Mentally Ill

And so the big Chicago punk night came to a close. A great movie and a great show made for one of the best evenings in a very long time. It was very much like a high school reunion seeing familiar faces from the past and reconnecting with people, along with the reuniting of a few great bands to honor this milestone. If you weren’t there, you really missed out, twice!

Starting tomorrow there will be additional photos posted to MXV’s flickr stream from the show.






3 comments

  • The show was sold out by the time we got to the Beat Kitchen. I was so fucking sad. I don’t know why I didn’t buy tickets ahead of time.

    Sounds like it was a great show. I really enjoyed the movie and was glad I got into that. I was worried they would sell out of movie tickets since the line was around the block even at 7:45.

  • HOLY FUCKING SHIT. I have never heard “Bombshelter” or “Tojo” live. Oh man, that is something else, even if its not the real band.

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