Plague Vendor are not known for their subtlety, and their performance at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen was anything but subtle. Eschewing a traditional light show, the band performed the entirety of their set bathed in black light, wearing white T-shirts that glowed menacingly.
The band breezed through tunes off their most recent record, By Night, including “New Comedown,” and “Let Me Get High/Low,” and older hits like “Jezebel” and “Ox Blood.” The mood and tempo of the entire show ranged somewhere from very fast and aggressive to slower and brooding, but all at a pace one could mosh to. And once the mosh pit broke out, there it stayed for most of the night. None of the participants seemed to mind the floor that grew progressively more wet and sticky with spilled beer. The music only let up enough at times for everyone to catch their breath to do it all again.
Frontman Brandon Blaine brought his trademark energy to the forefront, twisting and contorting himself like the lovechild of Iggy Pop and a crazed, acid-tripping Mick Jagger. He spent the night feeding off the energy of the intimate venue, and in turn working up the crowd to a frenzy, and at one point even joining in it and jumping into the pit. Backing him were the thunderous drums, growling bass, and rude guitar of his compatriots.
In a show full of punk energy and rage but devoid of rockstar pomp, it was only appropriate that Plague Vendor would scrap an encore and simply play straight through till the very end, with Blaine instructing everyone to “get out” whatever they had on their chests before tearing the house down one more time.
With By Night and its supporting tour, Plague Vendor have kept the aggression as hot as ever as they fine tune their poisonous brand. At a time of trap and synth-drenched pop-alternative dominance, Plague Vendor’s signature brand of noisy, dangerous, no-frills rock n’ roll remains… infectious.