Show time 8:00 PM. Busting my ass to get out of work as to arrive before anybody took the stage, I caught the Red-line south to the venue at 7:25 PM. Emerging from the train in a puffy down jacket and beanie to keep warm I blend right in with the street toughs that are mingling around the Cermak-Chinatown stop. Google maps did a good job of directing my walking route and I arrive in front of Reggie's Rock Club at 7:45 PM.
The bouncer at the door is standing in the middle of the sidewalk making sure people obey the request written on a chalk board sign reading "Do not give money or cigarettes to beggars." I suppose they swarm like pigeons when fed. The bouncer takes my ID then asks that I remove my hat for a more accurate facial assessment. A couple authenticity checks on the quality of said ID followed by a long series of looks from the card to my face and back again. He had me worried that someone had switched my legitimate identification for that of a child's. Convinced I was the same person that was on the card I make my way in the bar area looking for signs of the show and make myself comfortable on a bench built for grade school children. Finally the work week gets the best of me and I grab a drink at the bar.
A pint-can of PBR runs me $4, but at this point I would pay in first-born children to different mothers. I check with the barkeep to make sure this is the correct venue for the show I have journeyed to see. He makes his way to the back of the bar and sifts through some loose papers and returns with news that they are in the next door venue. "Don't worry; you have plenty of time to have a few drinks here before the show starts." My thoughts were that this bloodsucker is after my tips and cares nothing for the musical experience I wish to take in. The beverage is consumed and out I go just the way I came in. Next door is the lower level of the venue where T-shirts, pins, and stickers are sold. The chap behind the counter tells me the doors don't open until 8:00 and the show won't start until 9:15. They got me with the old movie time ploy now there is an hour to kill. Upstairs is a record shop, which is new to me, and a treasure trove of great music. Forty-five minutes and fifteen dollars later I make my way down to the venue.
The band ".22" is gearing up for their set. All the bands on the bill tonight are on the Roydale Recording Company label. They are a trio of jean-clad pressed button-down shirt men. Nothing in the set grabbed me and shook me like an angry nanny, but I've never been a critic of opening bands. We all need a platform to preach from. During the set change I grabbed a can of Hamm's beer at the bar. I didn't know they still served this but I pray all the cool kids start to drink it so I can get it in a wider variety of locations. You hear me hipsters? Hamm's, that's your mission for me. Next up was Joesepi. A band comprised of mid-thirties men that rocked on tunes that reminded me of 1992. Being from the Northwest I have a soft-spot for this genre and enjoyed the set. Even when a song lost my attention the keyboard player had me captivated. His movement reminded me of a mushroom trip or mild autism. Whatever it was, it was fascinating.
The Sandwich Show was getting set up and I made my way to the side of the room where I had a full stage view and enough light to see my own scribbles. Drunk-lady next to me was professing her love of Tony Mendoza in slurs and spits in the direction where she thought my twin was sitting. She had just earned her hangover. The band took the stage in a casual fashion, still tuning instruments, and sporting retro/vintage attire in colors that the rainbow had disowned. Even the drum set had an Ed Sullivan feel to it. I could see them checking in with each other on stage and could only suspect what they were saying.
"Costumes? Check. Props? Check. Cat Puppet? Check. Let's do this!"
Just like that they kicked into the first song at exactly 11:00 PM. The energy had begun to pump in the venue and Tony Mendoza was thrashing away at the drums. He was assaulting them so hard that twice in the opening number a drum stick made its way out of his hand and landed somewhere behind the drum set. Tom Vale was ripping in and getting some movement going in his corner of the stage while Thea Lux and Joanna Buese were focusing their energy on the instruments in their hands. Burning through three songs, they were so focused I thought they might have dosed on Ritalin before the show and forgot that everyone loved the bits that made them unique.
Like clockwork they bust into their theme accompanied by the cat and costumes. Bantering with the audience followed as Thea Lux commented on the Confederate hat she was adorning. A small discussion of three sentences was had as to how it wasn't racist, just historically accurate. Back into the music they dove. Drunk-lady next to me got up and almost fell down the concrete steps we were sitting on. I laugh much too loud and moved away to avoid any tough talk from the entourage of men feeding her drinks. A solid set of new and existing tunes were laid out interspersed with new bits that I had yet to see. The unveiling of the new logo, looking suspiciously like a swastika, was touted as the two S's of Sandwich Shop. If anyone was to get offended it would surprise the life out of me. They performed their bits with more tongue in cheek than a starving child in Darfur licking the last bits of peanut butter from his dead mother's mouth. Now that is something you be offended by. The big closer for the evening was VIP where Joanna Buese really belts the vocals in a full out Motown feeling pace. A perfect cap for a show where you are delighted by not knowing what is coming next. That and drunk lady was passed out with her own drink spilled in her lap. That helped too.
"VIP Room" MP3
Photos by Rory O'Connor