The Punk Vault

Riot Fest 2010: Bhopal Stiffs 10/7/10 at Subterranean

The second night of Riot Fest saw another Chicago area punk band from the 1980s reuniting just for the show. This time it was the Bhopal Stiffs who returned from the dead. They were from the suburbs of Chicago during the mid 1980s and in their short time together, put out two great records and played a bunch of good shows. The band also happened to feature Larry Damore, who went on to form Pegboy after Bhopal Stiffs broke up.

Squared Off played first. They played some fast paced musical punk rock. Their songs were catchy and pretty fast, but not hardcore fast. They played a rather quick set of originals that sounded great, and ended with a cover of “Suspect Device” which was not so great, though a lot less offensive than a lot of other bands covering that song. They didn’t need it though, people were really digging their own songs.

Squared Off

No Enemy followed up a few minutes later. They played really quick and energetic punk rock that was full of hooks and melody, all fast paced. They really have improved a ton since last year and have gotten tighter and seem to be finding themselves. At times they sounded like a faster Hot Water Music or early Small Brown Bike. They played a very entertaining set and had a good, fun attitude about them.

No Enemy

Mexican Cheerleader were next. They featured Pete from Oblivion on bass/vocals. They came out of the gate at full speed, which was a rather fast speed. They had a 70s punk and a bit of garage vibe to their punk rock and they too had pretty catchy songs. They were a fun band and crafted some cool songs. They did a cover of “Bomber” from Motorhead and while musically it sounded very good and more punked-out, Pete just didn’t have the voice to pull of that song in a compelling way. His vocals sounded out-of-place with that style of music. That and he didn’t adjust his microphone to mimic Lemmy’s which everybody knows is the key to his power.

Mexican Cheerleader

Then the moment most people were they for happened, the Bhopal Stiffs took the stage. It was the full original lineup and Larry was positioned on the right side of the stage playing a guitar. They opened with “Road to Bhopal” and then played “EPA” which the other guitarist sang. It sounded really good, full of youthful energy and fairly well rehearsed. Then came time for one of their best songs, “Bottle it Up” which Larry does the singing on. He removed the guitar for this one and started singing the song. It started out great, however by the middle of the song he already looked like he started running out of gas. In fact by the time the song was done, he was totally winded. By the next song he was totally blown up and barely could stand up. He spent a great deal of time not singing all his lyrics and sitting on the stage shrugging his shoulders or looking like he was going to have a heart attack.

This practice is hardly anything new, this has been going on in Pegboy for years but you’d think for this special show he’d manage to keep it together and maybe not get so wasted before the show starts that he could perform maybe half a set before falling apart. The rest of the band tried to make up for it the best that they could, and they played very well and probably rehearsed a bunch of times for this show, but even when Larry was back on guitar duties and they shifted songs around to have him back on guitar and take a break from having to sing, he’d just fuck up the guitar playing too. It got downright embarrassing by about 2/3 through the set and he actually left the stage and said he was done before they could play their last song (and one of their best), “Not Just My Head”. The bass player, who should be commended for his fighting of a losing battle trying to salvage their show the best he could, tried his hand at the vocals for it until someone from the crowd climbed up on stage to help him out singing. The guy did a good job too!

This was a rare show where the opening acts far exceeded the band that was the biggest draw of the evening. Those of you who opted out of this for one of the other shows missed a good set of opening acts, but perhaps made the better choice for the Bhopal Stiffs show left a lot to be desired and sadly was a rather big disappointment.

Bhopal Stiffs

Check out some additional photos from this show here.


  • hey ive got no problem, with critisem, but get a life, some of these guys traveled a long way,have made lives outside music,it sounds more personal than anything real these guys tried to put this gig together in less than 1 week,there not 20 years old anymore,and if you know punk it dosent take a pro to know, punk is high energy, and anyone will tire quick BRO!!! Ive paid lots more money, to see much higher profile bands, and left disapointed, atleast with the stiffs, I myself did not leave disapointed.taking all things in proper prospective,I as a music lover,and follower wasnt disapointed,Do yourself a big favor, look at the big picture, the whole show,before you start bashing any bands.Thank god your not a producer, and if you are,find another job!! If your some kind of critick,once again,find a day job!to critisize,you had better be able to look at yourself, FIRST!!! your as good of a cridick, as I am a speller. I dont know what you saw, but I saw people,having fun,watching older bands,and having a good time,and catching some tunes,that there never gonna here again,so great job!! another evening listening to good music,and having a good time,and I don’t feel ive been cheated out of anything, but mabey I knew what to expect!!!!!

  • My eyes aren’t so clouded with nostalgia that I can’t see the big picture. Age has absolutely nothing to do with it. Jello Biafra proved that on Friday and Articles of Faith proved what a band who hasn’t played together in 25 years can do and how much energy one can still have at an older age and they are all older than all the members of Bhopal Stiffs. Bhopal Stiffs played about ten years ago so they actually have played more recently than AOF did. The only difference was those guys have the common sense to not get fucked up before they go on stage.

    The reality is that Larry decided it was more important to get wasted before the show which made him unable to perform for more than 3 songs. This is a practice that has been his gimmick for at least the past ten years playing with Pegboy. He gets drunk before they start, runs out of breath and puts on a shitty show while the rest of the band try and pick up the slack. There is absolutely no excuse for it and it has nothing to do with age or how long the band has been away. The other 3 guys in that band played well and tried really hard to put on a good show, it is unfortunate for them that their front-man decided not to take their show seriously. I felt bad for them being saddled with the dude.

    I knew exactly what to expect and I called it from the moment the show was announced. In fact the day before I was asking people what the over/under was on how many songs the band would get through before Larry ran out of breath and sat/laid down on stage and fucked up the rest of the show. I called it right on the money at 3. My problem was that he lived up to my expectations when I (along with anyone not clouded by either chemicals or nostalgia) was hoping to not have them met.

  • the guy who stood up and finished bhopals set with them was the bassist from toothpaste i believe.

  • Larry Damore is a performer. I believe this because I have never left a Pegboy show unsatisfied. They bring it and you know it. I believe you have a personal vendetta against this guy by just by the way you speak of him. I mean “do you want to get in his pants or something?” You sound like a little guy who needs a hug….. Larry has always got winded because he brings it..I’d like to see you play a couple songs up there. U2 and Kings of Leon don’t get tired and miss their cues to sing, but it doesn’t mean they put on a good show. Another example is Guided by Voices. They have gotten very drunk before “important” shows, but it doesn’t take away from it. Sometimes makes it even sweeter. I don’t mind the performers I go see having beers before they perform. You know why? because they can and they are not trying to play your perfect show. They want the crowd to have fun. Not have them critique the show they played and if they played the right songs. I talked to 6 people that went to the show and they said Larry was awesome and the stiffs put on a great show


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