photos by James Richards IV, words by Parker Langvardt
The Darkness @ Metro - Saturday, 2/11/12
I'm tempted to say that this was the drunkest show I've ever been to. I can't think of a concert where I saw more high fives and hands on shoulders, let alone people having trouble walking in a straight line or maintaining their balance while standing still. I'll spare the full details so that I don't single anyone out, but it was a downright hilarious place to be. To sum it up: Lots of liquor, Valentine bro-love, and the most loving wives and girlfriends in the world.
Crown Jewel Defense got the crowd going with humorously pop-punk-tinged cock rock. While their ridiculous bio hypes them up to be "better than everyone else," the truth is they're very well-rehearsed and pull off the occasional sick breakdown or guitar solo. Their vocalist evoked the "epic" quality of Bruce Dickinson, the sneer of Axl Rose (who happens to play Chicago this week), and the deep, creepy side of Dave Mustaine (who played Chicago on Friday), but all with youthful goofiness. At one point an oversized cowboy hat was worn (think Norm Macdonald as Burt Reynolds in SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy). The vocalist made a corny joke about the Energizer Bunny when his wireless microphone briefly malfunctioned, and later shot a confetti cap gun, commenting, "I'm always packin'." Their set ended with a nod to the Jurassic Park theme.
Foxy Shazam @ Metro - Saturday, 2/11/12
Foxy Shazam was by far the most impressive band of the night, combining glam with elements of funk, dance-punk, ska, and more. Vocalist Eric Sean Nally has a Freddy Mercury-like gender ambiguity, and at time their music takes on the grandness of Queen. Nally's voice is much more nasally though, and he is especially sassy. Before opening with "Welcome To The Church of Rock and Roll," which featured an appropriately raunchy trumpet solo by Alex Nauth, Nally commented, "I know rock'n'roll is dead but that doesn't mean we can't dance with its mother fucking ghost!"
Between songs Nally dumped a whole bottle of water into his mouth, actually drinking maybe a third of it, and I heard someone yell, "YEAH! CHUG IT!" The band followed with "Killing It," which interestingly features the lyric, "I'm killing life like a one way ticket to hell," which is not to be confused with The Darkness buying "a one way ticket to hell...and back," which was also performed that night.
For the rest of the set, Nally took on some acrobatic maneuvers, once running, somersaulting, and springing to his feet. He put on an LED-brimmed cowboy hat during "Holy Touch" and had the lights come down for the performance of a musical "joke" about a man walking into a bar and ordering twelve whiskey doubles. Keyboardist Schuyler Vaughn White did a tasteful slide down the keys when Nally said that the bartender slid a drink down the bar. He had nearly hit the punch line, which is just the chorus of the song, when a heckler interrupted. Nally told him, "The difference between me and you is you're looking up, and I'm looking down."
He mentioned that "The Temple" is about being "trapped between a bed and a woman." During the next lull between songs, Nally asked who had attended college and stated, "A little fact about college. The only difference between me and a scholar is what we paid for what we know."
Their performance got progressively more raucous toward the end; guitarist Loren Daniel Turner impressively sprung across the stage, White jumped onto his keyboard, and Nally leapt onto Turner's shoulders while humping the back of his head. Somewhere in there Nally had a cymbal on top of his head that was repeatedly hit by drummer Aaron McVeigh. When they finished the last song, Schuyler put his keyboard over his shoulder and Nally said, "Listen. Did you come yet? Cuz we gotta go."
The entire performance of The Darkness was the hilarious, drunken sing-along one would expect, especially being a short walk from Wrigley Field. After the first song, frontman Justin Hawkins, sporting a sleeveless, leather American flag jumpsuit and a conquistador goatee, said, "Give me a D! Give me an arkness!" and the crowd was more than happy to oblige. Every aspect of the show was classic glam, passionately cliché. Harmonizing guitar solos with guitars behind their heads, continuously running fog that poured into the stairwells, a cowbell feature, and that impressive falsetto. What else would you expect? Probably not their macho cover of "Street Spirit" by Radiohead, which featured a hint of the guitar solo from "Just."
The Darkness' originality comes in the form of smooth transitions, be it an interesting drum fill or cool guitar lick. One song ended with a Led Zeppelin "Heartbreaker"-like guitar solo, leading into a cool bouncing blues guitar rhythm that developed slowly, leading much of the crowd to wonder, "Are they going to play what I think they are?" The answer was yes. The opening chords of "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" were like a dub-step bass drop that took the whole show to get to, directed at the older boozin' crowd that knows how to work for an orgasm. As the band jumped up and down, I couldn't help but imagine they were hitting those blocks in the Mario games that yield multiple gold coins, if you catch my drift, and there's nothing wrong with that. While what they do isn't really for me, they did exactly what that full capacity-crowd at Metro had been waiting for, and more. At one point they all but confirmed a summer return to "Chicago-town" to the crowd's delight.
During the encore Hawkins took a victory lap on the shoulders of a fan, holding his guitar all the while. When he made it back to the stage, he scaled the supports for the PA system and leapt into the crowd.
Crown Jewel Defense
The Darkness - 2/11 Metro Setlist:
Growing On Me
The Best of Me
One Way Ticket
Nothing's Gonna Stop Us
Get Your Hands Off My Woman
I Can't Believe It's Not Love
Holding My Own
Love is Only a Feeling
Everybody's Having a Good Time
Is It Just Me?
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
She's Just a Girl, Eddie
Stuck in a Rut
I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Love on the Rocks With No Ice