Music

Review: The Lawrence Arms with Dillinger Four and Toys That Kill at House of Vans

The Lawrence Arms

When one imagines a pop-up concert venue, a dingy DIY space stereotype may come to mind. Makeshift setups, PBR priced at a dollar a pop and sound levels that would blow out anyone’s ear drums. But it’s the intimacy of these settings which are the real MVP. The House of Vans venue in Fulton Market music series understood this charm and decided to spruce it up. Their “Vans House Parties” series at this site has produced some heavy hitters, including Rise Against. That tradition continued last Thursday as Dillinger Four and the Lawrence Arms headlined a memorable set and packed house.

House of Vans

The warehouse/skatepark/concert venue in Fulton Market was a sight to behold with plenty of space for the huge crowd and skate decks lining the east side of the room. Funny enough, when the place started to get crowded, resourceful concertgoers solved that issue by standing atop some of the concrete skate ramps that were present. Did they block some people’s views? Well yeah, but it’s that DIY attitude that made the whole experience oh so charming.

Los Angeles’ Toys That Kill led off the night, getting the crowd amped up for the bands that would follow. A good opener is crucial for a show, as you don’t want to lose your audience too early. Thankfully, the quartet and their garage rock sound helped set the mood for the rest of the night.

If Toys that Kill was the first gear of the show, the next band, Dillinger Four, was overdrive. While they haven’t released a full-length since 2008’s “Civil War”, the Minneapolis foursome had an energy of a band that just released their first EP. The blistering guitars and thunderous drums got the crowd pumped.

And let’s not forget the band of the hour, The Lawrence Arms. These boys are a Chicago institution, what with their narrative focused songwriting, and their dynamic live sets. The House of Vans show was no different as bassist Brendan Kelly’s raucous songs paired nicely with guitarist Christ McCaughan’s melodic fronted tracks.

One of the enjoyable aspects of the Lawrence Arms set was their back and forth with the crowd. Kelly is known for being a humorous frontman, riling the crowd up in the best way possible. And despite the sweltering heat in the venue, throngs of punks old and young, drenched in sweat and beer, sang along with the frontmen at the top of their lungs with classics such as “The Ramblin’ Boys of Pleasure” and “Are You There Margaret? It’s Me, God.” And with all three band members grinning ear to ear throughout the set, you could tell they were having as much fun as their fans.

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