Concert Review: Local H at Tailgater's Bar & Grill, 4/18/15

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Last Saturday I was all set to patronize Record Store Day here in gorgeous Chicago, Illinois.

The weather was nice and as an added benefit, Local H was playing a free gig at the Broadway location of Reckless Records. As a huge devotee to the music industry, the idea of Record Store Day is fantastic.

One day a year to flood the market with limited editions, rare re-prints and other cool collectibles.

Throw in a set from Local H, huge flag-wavers for the dying art of straight-up rock and roll, and you've got a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon.

So I drove my huge Suburban over there giving me plenty of time to hit Local H's 3pm set time. Then the traffic started thickening in front of me. 3 o' clock was quickly approaching and I still had a ways to go. As I entered the Wrigleyville area I was beginning to be aware of the fact that parking around there is a nearly impossible feat. Crowds of people pouring into the streets make driving, let alone parking, a real nightmare.

I even passed in front of Reckless at about 3:05pm and could hear the guitars and drums blasting. No spots in sight. Ten more minutes of circling the area and I found a shady-looking mini parking lot behind an apartment building.

Obviously permit parking only, but I figured I will put my flashers on and run to the store just in time.

I bolted over to the record store and realized that the store was so packed I literally could only stick my face in the door to catch a glimpse of the band.

As I did so, Scott Lucas, frontman and founder of Local H, exclaimed "Thanks for having us!"

Realizing the show was over and there was no room for me to even think of shopping, I then remembered that my truck was in a precarious position, so I then sprinted over to my truck. Luckily, the truck was sitting there, un-approached, un-ticketed and un-bothered.

But my happiness was then overcome by the realization that this trip was complete and utter bust.

However, the hardest working rock band in Chicago, Local H, had another show planned that night, in the opposite direction.

"Guess I'm going to the Bolingbrook show," I muttered to myself as I made my way to the highway to head back home.

When your town's only claim to fame is a wife-murdering police officer (Drew Peterson), you know you're not dealing with a bustling metropolis. Bolingbrook is the rare suburb in Chicago that is just as dangerous as places in the actual city.

So that night I made my way to Tailgater's Bar & Grill, a sports bar about 15 minutes away from my house.

Your average sports bar, Tailgater's was not the greatest venue to see live music, especially with two scowling meathead security guards mean-mugging the crowd from each side of the stage.

Local H's new album Hey, Killer is a tight, concise collection of loud guitar rock. The drums hit super-hard being that it's the first recording with new drummer Ryan Harding.

The drum tracks were recorded at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studio, arguable one of the best drum rooms in the city.

After 2012's political concept album "Hallelujah, I'm A Bum" the guys have dropped all pretenses and just want to rock again. That is usually a prime time to see a band live.

Scott is celebrating 25 years (I'm getting old) as the two-man band Local H, and while they have had a handful of successful singles locally, they have never matched their 1996 grunge-smash "Bound For The Floor." Local H was lucky enough to get picked up by Island Records in the post-grunge signing frenzy of 1994 .

But we all know how that post-grunge signing frenzy ended. The labels signed hundreds of loud rock bands, funded one or maybe two albums, stopped promoting, and then dropped them. What set Scott Lucas apart was that he was a lifer, not simply a grunge rock poser.

He had been kicking around the Chicagoland area for the better part of a decade before getting signed.

So when he got dropped, and his drummer quit, it wasn't the end of Scott Lucas.

He regrouped with a new drummer, new label and spent another 15 years tirelessly touring and defiantly releasing new music in the age of the digital download.

This weekend, their work ethic was quite vivid. Four shows in three days to packed audiences. Even at this random sports bar, the crowd is packed, attentive and ready to rock.

The guys opened with "The Last Picture Show in Zion" a dark, loud story about old cinemas shutting their doors in Scott's hometown of Zion, IL. Drummer Ryan Harding, absolutely punished his pared-down drum kit, making an instant impression on the crowd (and his drums). The audience knew the words to most of the songs and were quite attentive.

However, like most shows in 2015, about a fifth of the crowd was watching the show through their cell phones, capturing video or stills. To me this is just a necessary evil of the age we are living in, as I snapped a handful of shots for this article, but even with a fancy phone, the photos never quite capture the real thing.

About five songs in, Scott scowled at a guy in the front row taking video.

"Uh oh" I said to myself as I remembered that my friend once got yelled at by Scott for taking flash photos at a Local H show. Turns out my friend was lucky...

In the middle of the song, Scott walks to the edge of the stage, grabs the guy's cell phone... and whips it twenty feet behind the drummer, hitting the back wall of the bar! The crowd laughs and consoles the dude, I put my phone away like most of the other people and the band kept rocking. After the song, Scott apologized and explained his reasons for doing what he did.

"Not only do I do concerts, I go to concerts, and nothing annoys me more than when somebody has the flash going on his phone. I love 'flash-ers', I hate 'flash-es.' Let's all put away the phones and live in the moment for a little while," said the out-of-breath Scott Lucas.

"I don't hate you," he told the guy "I actually LOVE you and I'm sad that you are becoming a robot. You will get your phone back after the show."

It was a perfect moment of the rock and roll mentality having to deal with the culture of 2015. Some of my friends are on Scott's side of the argument. Others thought it was a completely thoughtless move to harass someone who has paid to see you perform. I'm stuck in the middle. However, I also paid to be entertained, and seeing that man get his phone tossed was quite entertaining. It also helped that the set was incredible.

Crowd pleasers like "Bound To The Floor," "All Right (Oh Yeah)," "California Songs," and "Hand On The Bible," meshed beautifully with new songs like the ultra-catchy "Gig Bag Road." The 90 minute set also included hilarious stage banter, drum solos and Lucas banging on his guitar with a drum stick. After the final encore, Scott dove into the crowd and was carried all the way over to the merch table at the front of the venue. While #CellPhoneGate might be one of the memories I take from this awesome night, a rock & roll work ethic is the more important lesson learned.

You have to put on a memorable show. No matter what. Local H live is highly recommended.

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Photo Credit: (I swear it wasn't me...)