LIVE: Hostage Calm / Into It. Over It @ Schubas Tavern, Chicago

By Jim Howes

Pop punk scene darlings Hostage Calm announced this fall that they would be disbanding, much to the dismay of many. Since their formation in 2007, HC have taken their fans on a journey that has been one part sonic and one part intellectual, stretching the limits of what we as listeners define as punk. From their beginnings in East Coast Hardcore to their maturation as glimmering, poppy Americana, HC have boldly gone where few other bands dare to go, owned the shit out of that, and gained a bunch of respect in the process. It only seemed appropriate to pay my proper respects and go see them one last time.

I was pleasantly surprised, on arriving at Schubas, that Chicago’s own prehistoric emo powerhouse Into It. Over It. had jumped on the bill last minute. IIOI are definitely at the top of my list of bands working right now, and seeing them is always a treat. They’re super consistent, always play the goddamn hits, and Evan Weiss is always as humble and appreciative as to make it seem as though it were his first show ever. Between songs, he bantered nostalgically about IIOI’s past (mis)adventures with Hostage Calm on tour, sang HC’s praises as true trailblazers, and may or may not have gotten a little misty-eyed. He also announced that he would be “coming out of mosh retirement” for HC’s set (Weiss turned 30 last year, so I guess this is a pretty big deal).

Hostage Calm took the stage and immediately started cranking through hit after hit. One thing you can always count on with a band as scene-revered as HC is an enthusiastic crowd, and people were going nuts. Admittedly, there’s something pretty funny (but also heartwarming) about watching people mosh to stuff that sounds like the Beach Boys. HC sounded as polished as they ever have, and there was a real sense of celebration in the air as the monolithic CMar (short for Chris Martin, not to be confused with the fucker from Coldplay) crooned out songs equally picked from their self-titled album, Please Remain Calm, and their most recent Die On Stage (they even played one of their old hardcore anthems from their demo). Singalongs and stage dives were the order of the day (more like Dive Off Stage, amirite?), and CMar even got in the pit a couple times. In the end, when the crowd pled for an encore, the band agreed with very little fight, and everyone left their last Hostage Calm show (at least for the time being) feeling sentimental but happy.

Yes, Hostage Calm did indeed Die On Stage, and with that, ended an era. And maybe that’s okay. I’m not really sure where they could have gone with their sound after going as far as they had already. Sometimes calling it when you’re ahead is the right thing to do, and for Hostage Calm, it appears to just be the next in a line of very respectable decisions.