Wednesday night shows are always fun. They give you something to look forward to on Monday and Tuesday and when you wake up Thursday morning with a wicked hangover, you know there's only two more days until the blessed weekend arrives. Last night, I decided to experience the Wednesday night rock show bliss with UK garage/hip-hop sensation The Streets. This was the third time Streets main man Mike Skinner has been in the Windy City since the release of his breakout debut, Original Pirate Material, and the second sold out Metro show of his career. An admittedly reluctant live performer, Skinner would prefer to be sitting in his room making another new album rather than traveling across the US in a bus, playing shows and scoring chicks - who'd have thunk? Thankfully though, he was successfully prodded into taking this trek, and he even seemed to be enjoying himself.
Skinner has somewhat refined his live show into more of a real concert and less of a bunch of guys throwing beer at each other, as I had grown accustomed to. On his first two trips through Chicago, Skinner spent most of his time yelling "OI OI," spraying the crowd with beer and talking about things (I can't really understand what he's saying when he's not rapping). This time however, Skinner was more businesslike in his demeanor, less drunk, more confident on stage, less beer soaked, more smooth with his delivery and less talkative overall. In fact, Skinner didn't even drink ONE BEER while on stage last night, much less shake it up and spray it on anyone. Instead, he drank tea and even drew attention to it saying, "how many rappers do you know who drink tea?" (insert crowd laughter here)
The sold out Metro crowd was made up of a variety of college kids, hipsters and a couple of older businessmen types. They were warm and welcoming to the Streets and sang along at every chance they got. Skinner took most of his set from Original Pirate Material, only playing three or four cuts from the recently released A Grand Don't Cost A Thing. That was more than acceptable for the crowd though, as the older songs got the biggest reaction, save for the new single, "Fit, But You Know It," which the fans ate up like it was giant brownie sundae with sprinkles, whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Skinner's band was extremely tight musically, noticeably better than his last time through, perhaps adding to the more professional vibe of the show. Streets gigs are admittedly not all about the band really, but I figured I should mention them since they are people, too, and may need something for their scrapbook.
With sweat dripping from just about every person in the venue (except for those lucky bastards by the AC vents), The Streets ended their set with "Don't Mug Yourself" and blew the roof off of the joint. That song rules and by itself is worth the price of admission.
The official afterparty was then held downstairs in the Smart Bar, where Q101 weekender Pogo hosts a Britpop/Indie/new wave DJ night called Panic. Word quickly spread around the basement club when Skinner and co. came down to hang out and I couldn't believe how many seemingly reserved, macho guys behaved like 10-year-old girl Backstreet Boys fans - getting pictures, autographs, etc. It was amusing to say the least. The night ended somewhere between a 2:30AM Gyro sandwich and my ¸ber soft down pillow. I can't really remember exactly. Good times.