For years I have been billing Texas rock band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, as “the best band that nobody but me listens to.” Luckily, there were hundreds of supporters as avid as I who convened on Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago Friday night for a stop on the bands tour to support their new album “The Century of Self,” creating another remarkably memorable concert experience I have drawn from this tragically under appreciated band.
This marked the fourth time I have seen …Trail of Dead in concert, and it was the third time I would declare their performance to be sensational. The other time the band was fine, but were playing as part of a co-headlining tour with The Blood Brothers. If you have never seen this band live, the best way I can encourage one to reenact their shows is to cut open your skull and let your friends punch you in the brain for an hour.
During their 80-minute set, the band played tracks spanning their entire discography, from their self-titled 1998 debut to the recently released “Century of Self.” The only record the band didn’t draw from was 2006’s “critically unclaimed” cluster-fuck album “So Divided” which they basically disowned quickly after its release.
…Trail of Dead’s live shows always create a raucous on-state environment, and this show was no exception, as band members jolted around the stage as if they were injected with the drug used in that heinous Jason Statham movie “Crank.” Some of the more rousing numbers included “Will You Smile Again?” and my all time favorite …Trail of Dead ditty, “A Perfect Teenhood.”
A nice surprise was the return of “Richter Scale Madness,” a song that has been absent from the previous two shows I have attended. This “song about killing everybody” was the first track the band ever recorded. The band has gone through many different sonic evolutions over their decade plus of existence, but this song serves as a flashback to the days when they sounded as if they simply wanted nothing more than to be the most powerful band on the planet.
The highlight and the most frustrating moment of the evening came during the same song. Drummer, guitarist and part-time vocalist Jason Reece made his way into the crowd during “Caterwaul” and even allowed a few anxious fans the opportunity to sing along with him. Sensing the best chance I’ll ever get to achieve any sort of bastardized feeling of “rock stardom” I attempted to make my way over in hopes he would allow me the opportunity to belt out a few words. Unfortunately, my path was blocked off by some lanky doofus who simply refused to move or even uncross his damn arms. A big circle of hundreds of people jumping and dancing and having a blast and I get cut off by some guy who looks like he was waiting for the bus.
Following the show I was lucky enough to get a picture snapped with primary vocalist and guitarist Conrad Keely. As always when I am about to meet a musician I like, I vowed to say something witty, and, as usual, I muttered out some phrase that sounded like it was being uttered by a guy whose parents were relatives who decided to consummate their relationship on a whim. Though I know that he will instantly forget meeting me, it still would have been nice to utter something smarter than some stuttery nonsense about if they will be touring again soon. Oh, well.
While the music was undeniably awesome, what I enjoyed most about this show was just being around people who appreciate …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead as much as I do. Outside of a few friends, I really never encounter anyone that likes or has so much as heard them. Even some of their live shows in the past have been peppered with people who didn’t even seem to care. Maybe that’s the benefit of seeing them in a big city as opposed to a small market like Urbana, Illinois.
I think it says a lot for a band that has been trucking along for over a decade being insanely under appreciated that they can still work up a show of this magnitude. …Trail of Dead has been through a great deal in recent years, from losing a major label deal to being forced to open for Dethklok, a band created by the Cartoon Network, yet on stage they still power through like a band hungry to explode. The time for them to achieve the success they deserve has likely passed and perhaps that is a driving factor for them to continue pressing on. I don’t know if that is true and honestly I don’t care. As long as they are touring and recording and pouring insane amounts of energy into their work, I will willingly come along for the ride.
The Giants Causeway
Bells of Creation
Will You Smile Again?
Fields of Coal
Clair de Lune
A Perfect Teenhood
Another Morning Stoner
Richter Scale Madness
Totally Natural (Not on the set list, played on a whim)
Zac Pritcher always ends up changing my score so I don’t even see the need to put one. I think I have made the point that the show was insanely awesome so adding a numerical value to the awesomeness seems arbitrary anyway.