Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Gizmos and lots more at The Midwest's Alright Festival, East Room, Chicago, Il, Sunday July 23, 2017

The Gizmos were invited to partake in the first annual Midwest's Alright Festival at Chicago's East Room by promoter Tyler O'Connor and we gladly made the trip out for this great line-up of old and new bands from the area.The parking lot of the East Room was a terrific space (even with a set of El Train tracks as our backdrop) and the provided a real stage, a knowledgeable soundman, a spacious green room and even a place for interviews for a Gizmos documentary!

 Opening the day was the hip, new-wave-ish Wet Piss - with Gizmos pal Karissa Talanian on drums - mixing punk and new wave with some noisy guitar and neat keyboard/synth flourishes. I'm really starting to dig on bands with synth these days and Wet Piss did it well! A great start to the day!

Up next - the Jollys - with a 70's punk sound and songs that steal from great punk and new wave tunes so that you are ready to sing along and then realize that it's not what you thought it was! Kinda like what Turbonegro did on Apocalypse Dudes. Super fun and good players!

From there we got Son of a Gun, who did a modern take on 60's garage rock'n'roll similar to the way the Zero's did - and they even cover "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White"! Right up my alley!

Gizmos pals the Brothers Gross followed. We've played with them a couple of times and always enjoyed their punk rock take on power pop, done with excellent genetic harmonies and plenty of style and flash. Kyle is an amazing drummer in ala Clem Burke and is constantly twirling sticks (like between every drum hit!) and performing, while brother Jimmy powers through some snarling guitar work. I've seen them in multiple incarnations, but their current bassist (sorry, I didn't catch his name!) fit it great as they flailed their way through Heartbreakers-styled rock'n'roll and a cover of "Borstal Breakout"! Always a treat!

We got more first-rate rockin' pop from Chicago's the Rubs - the Flamin' Groovies t-shirt should have tipped me off, although their sound was a bit harder edged than the later Groovies, but damned outta site.

The Cowboys played with the Gizmos on our first reunion show a few years back and this time I thought they were a bit more pop than noisy new-wave, but I dug them both times and they were a top-notch addition to the day's line-up.

After a bit of a rain break - this was Chicago in the summertime, after all - the sky cleared up for the rest of the night and we continued with Tutu and the Pirates. I remember these cats from the 70's, though I'll be damned if I can say for sure whether or not I saw them back then - my memory continues to fail me in my old age. In any case, they played tight rock'n'roll with a punky edger and funny lyrics with songs about the Son of Sam and wanting to be a janitor - complete with toilet seat bass that was plunged by the singer. The musicians were super solid and the singer was wildly spastic with a new-wave-y look, good lame pants and trashed-out lipstick. Great, fun stuff!

I was not familiar with MOTO (Masters of the Obvious) although Kenne Highland has done gigs with them and plenty of Chicago stalwarts knew them from their time in the city. Their anthemic punk rock really resonated with the crowd who cheered them on and asked for more!

The Gizmos were fortunate enough to still have a great crowd by the time we went on and although time constraints meant that we skipped a couple of songs, it was only a couple and we had an amazing time with fans old and new singing along, with original Gizmos Dave Sulak joining us for "Human Garbage Disposal", drummer Karissa sitting in on "Pumpin' to Playboy" while our regular drummer Kelsey grabbed her guitar, and later Gizmo Dale Lawrence (who wrote the song "MidWest is Alright" that the festival was named after) sang said song with us as a tribute to the fest and to Billy Nightshade who passed away earlier this year. Our bassist Melanie played despite a herniated disc and I bled all over my Telecaster, but a good time was had by all.

Again, a huge thanks to promoter Tyler O'Connor, who bent over backwards to accommodate us, to the East Room and to all of the 21st Century Gizmos Fans who came out to support us! Hope to see everyone again soon!