Mr. Blotto‘s 2+ hour set at Retro on Roscoe was unstoppable. The southern rock jam band literally played one of the best outdoor sets I’ve seen — of any genre. Attendees, including myself, flailed around like idiots to the group’s face melters and extended jam sessions. The 5 p.m. show was, well, ridiculously fun.
The group consists of three guitarists (acoustic, electric and bass), a keyboardist and, of course, drums. Mixing originals with classics, just about anyone would have dug bits of the show — if not the whole damn thing.
A few songs deep, actually, the discernible smell of pot already started filtering through the first wave of crowd.
At one point, Mr. Blotto covered “Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn),” which in time shifted into a improv funky rap sesh for lead singer Paul Bolger to comment on anything and everything going on around him. Think Wayne Brady on Whose Line is it Anyway?, but waaaaay cooler.
Among other things, Bolger…
- Provided a play-by-play of a woman reaching into her purse and pulling out a card, which, we would soon find out, had a picture of a surfer inside.
- Pointed out a sixtysomething male sitting on a lawn chair just steps from the stage.
- Talked about a woman who was walking on the sidewalk about 10 feet from the stage. He noted, and he was right, that she was completely oblivious to the fact that he was singing about her.
- Said he wanted to put an attendee’s dreads in a pipe and smoke ’em.
Bolger, actually, was very playful with the crowd. He had an infectious grin that he’d plaster on his face every now and again, especially when a tune was gettin’ good. He also rechristened his band “Mr. Hotto” on several occasions — an obvious nod to Lakeview’s sweltering heat.
His brother, Mark (bass), had some choice words about the sun, too. He joked that for people feeling chilly, the merch tent to his left had plenty of shirts that people could put over what they were already wearing.
At the end of a long jam — and by that, I mean what may have been a 20-minute tune — Bolger got into a lengthy discussion on stage with his bro and Mark Hague (electric guitar). After a few moments, Bolger finally turned back around, approached the microphone and deadpanned: “We were just having a very important conversation. We forgot where we were for a second.”
My friends, Mr. Blotto is an experience. Please do what you can — and I outline a few ways below — to see ’em.
- Mr. Blotto, of Chicago, is comprised of Paul Bolger (vocals/acoustic guitar/electric guitar), Mike Bolger (vocals/bass guitar), Mark Hague (vocals/lead electric and acoustic guitar), Steve Ball (vocals/keyboard/B3/nord/wurlitzer) and Alan Baster (drums).
- The band has a number of albums already in circulation. Sift through and purchase ’em here.
- Mr. Blotto plays regularly on Tuesdays at Reggies Music Joint.
- On August 18, Mr. Blotto will play Lunch in the Loop at 225 W. Washington St., Chicago. They’re scheduled to play 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.