LIVE: The Menzingers, Lemuria, Cayetana, Pup @ Bottom Lounge, Chicago

By Mat Stokes

To say that Chicago was excited for this show would be a colossal understatement. Selling out well in advance was not the least bit surprising; Chicago has always embraced the Menzingers. One of my favorite things about seeing this band is that it reminds me of when I was 15 and first started going to shows. Every time I’ve shot a headlining set from them, I was forced to think like my younger self in order to get a position to get the best spot. The reason for this is that the Menzingers really are that band that every one who isn’t talking about them, should be. A combination of an always top notch live performance accompanied by stellar support make this band a must in my book.

Cayetana opened the night and having heard more buzz than songs, I was more than a little excited. They got the night started off very right. Their sound was a pleasant take on indie pop-punk that was reminiscent of (the upcoming) Lemuria. They were very high energy as they clearly enjoyed themselves and had attracted more than a handful of new and old fans over by the merch table, talking after the show.

Up next were the next car on the hype train, PUP. To be fair, they deserve every bit of positive word of mouth. Their self-titled full length translates flawlessly to the live show. If anything, its further enhanced by seeing the band put on one of the most energetic performances as they played it. The timing between when I first heard PUP and them being announced on this tour was perfect. It was basically the icing on an already ideal cake. Do not feel bad for giving into the hype and enjoying this band.

Lemuria were tapped for direct support and I couldn’t have been happier about the news. Having always been a band that I have heard around, but never really taken the time to get into them, made me feel awful the second I saw them live for the first time. Since then I wanted to be sure to catch them whenever possible; it fit in nicely that they were on this bill. This is how a three piece should sound. Max Gregor knows how to make a bass sound as full as two guitars. His use of fills was quite keen when combined with Sheena Ozzella’s intense vocal performance and brilliant guitar play. Alex Kerns kept the smiles and the intricate rhythms coming throughout the night. Playing a delightfully faster mix of The Distance is So Big and Get Better kept the crowd, both young and old, well engaged throughout.

Following Lemuria, the crowd gathered closer to the stage in anticipation of what was to come. It was a healthy mix of people who had seen the Menzingers before and those who had no idea what they were in for. In the very first second the opening riff of “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore”, the crowd quickly divided as a wave of ecstasy hit the crowd and they pushed forward. This was the moment everyone was waiting for and it established the tone for the rest of the evening. I don’t remember a single moment that I didn’t look around and someone wasn’t singing. The Menzingers attract the kind of people that memorize a new album within weeks, which was demonstrated when Tom called a set list audible and played “I Know Where Your Heartache Exists” and “The Talk” to a more than accepting crowd. The entire night flowed seamlessly through a mix of Rented World and On the Impossible Past with the occasional gem from Chamberlain Waits. I am always a fan of when “Irish Goodbyes” is busted out and boy was it ever that night.

Its such a great thing for the Menzingers to have played to a sold out show in Chicago. A venue like Bottom Lounge is not an easy place to pack, but they did well in advance. There are few things as special as being part of a crowd all singing, “I will fuck this up, I fucking know it!”, back at the band. Its nice that The Menzingers have taken to Chicago like a second home. There really is something about the band that really stirs the people around here. Its exciting that 3/4 of this lineup will be back for Riot Fest because after this show, there’s little chance I’ll miss an opportunity to see them again as soon as possible.