Review: Naked Raygun And Smoking Popes Remind People Why Chicago Is Ground Zero For Modern Punk Rock

The Smoking Popes

The Smoking Popes opened up the Sunday show at The Aragon Ballroom half an hour before tickets even said bands would play. Luckily there were so many folks who showed up when doors opened, they had a robust crowd. And early arrivers were treated to a great catalog spanning set from the band.

The Pope’s excellent new album Into The Agony got coverage, but they also trotted out fan favorites. So everyone left happy. Especially since it was the original configuration of the band and every musician worked in lock-step. Sure, Josh loves Jesus, but rarely have I heard anyone make The Messiah sound so fucking punk.

Simmer Down by The Smoking Popes

Naked Raygun played next, and despite singer Jeff Pezzati’s physical restrictions, they also slayed the crowd. Interesting side fact? I ran into the band’s previous guitarist John Haggerty at the show, so it appears there are no ill feelings between him and the band. It might also be important to note that most of the current line-up are “new” members. (Of course in this case “new” equals “only been in the band 20 years—but punk rock being what it it, this seems worth mentioning.)

It was a treat seeing both bands in a venue the size of the Aragon. Oh, and Jawbreaker played too but I left before them because, honestly, they’ve never connected with me. But the Chicago openers? Whoo, fire!

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