Well, Chicago. It appears that winter is finally upon us. I hope you are enjoying our winter wonderland as much as I am.
Saturday night, during the brief respite between the rain and the snow, when only the wind remained, Kari and I trudged, by Zipcar (an important detail for later), from our apartment on the north side to South State Street and the bar/”music venue” known as Reggie’s Music Joint.
Now, you may be asking yourself: “Why did he put music venue in quotes there? Was he rolling his eyes when he did that?”
Yes, Chicago. I was rolling my eyes.
Have you ever been to this place? I know you can’t answer me because you’re reading this on your HP tablet or what have you, but I’ll assume for most of you the answer is no. And I envy you for that. Reggie’s is an overly small, overcrowded shell of a music venue that makes Empty Bottle seem spacious by comparison. Why anyone would go to a show here, I don’t know.
The people were rude, the sound system was on par with someone driving past with a big bass speaker and the place reeked of marijuana.
If any of the servers from Reggie’s are reading this, please know that Kari and I pity you. They should have statues erected in your honor for having to put up with these, excuse my language here, assholes. A bunch of aging hipsters that work hard all week and wanna have a good time Saturday night was all I saw everywhere I looked. It actually made me a little sad to be there. If I ever remind anyone of these doofuses, you have my permission to put me out of my misery.
With that out of the way, let’s talk music.
When we arrived France Jean-Baptiste was already on stage with her band. They did a lot of covers, which was fine. She has a voice that lends itself to the genre pretty well. The highlight of the band was the guitarist, whose name I did not catch. He was shredding like a champ.
This seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the night. All three bands have dudes on axe that can hang with the best of them. Not in a “Man, this guy’s as good as Stevie and Prince combined!” But in a way like: “Holy cow! That guitar player is smokin’ them strings!”
The second band up was Winslow, who hail from Akron, Ohio. An interesting group, to say the least. Their first tune sounded like a Coheed and Cambria cover to me. Kari thought they were doing a take on the SportsCenter theme. Throughout their set I heard a lot of different things: Jethro Tull, Billy Joel, The Clash… but nothing that reminded me of a soul band, which is what they claim to be. When they did a cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine” I almost thought it was a joke. The singers voice, and I hope if he reads this he doesn’t get offended, is a bit too effeminate to sing that song. He was fine otherwise, but you need a nice, deep, powerful voice to do “Sunshine” justice, and this guy doesn’t have it right now.
Finally, after a couple hours of waiting, The Congregation took to the stage. And this is where my story takes a turn for the tragic. You see, dear readers, if you check out a Zipcar, you have to return it to where you got it from by the time you chose or pay a 50-dollar penalty. Well, seeing how the flyer said 9 p.m., I figured The Congregation would hit the stage about 11, maybe 11:15. In reality, they got on around midnight. The car had to be back by 1, which meant we couldn’t stay for the whole show. We only caught a few songs before we had to motor.
What we saw, we both liked. There were some issues with the mixing, so the vocals were a bit drowned out, but you could still feel the power coming from Gina Bloom’s voice. The band sounded just as good as they do on wax, if not better. I was most impressed with the horns’ ability to play in a very cramped space.
Again, the guitar work here was tremendous. Easily the best of the night, and that’s no simple task.
I wish we had been able to stay for the whole show, but on this particular evening it didn’t seem like things were going to fall in line for us anyway. I was really looking forward to this show, and it lived up to my expectations as far as what I actually saw. Maybe next time The Congregation will play at a place more suited for a big crowd, like Beat Kitchen, or, in a perfect world, Schubas.
I do recommend checking them out at any venue you can. Also, get their EP when you see them. It’s a great listen.
- Check out my review of The Congregation’s EP, Not for Sleepin’.