This current era we’re in has been quite an adjustment for a person like me who spent decades seeing hundreds of bands play every year. As of today, the only live show I’ve seen so far in 2022 was a corporate battle of the bands featuring a number of talented friends, and while it was truly enjoyable it also meant the last time I’ve seen a show featuring all original music was … mid-October of last year.
Scott Lucas has been leading Local H for over three decades, with Ryan Harding holding down the drum kit since 2013, and not once during that time has the band dipped in the quality of their output or the power of their sound. While guitar-drum duos operating these days are relatively standard, back when Local H made that transition in the early ’90s it was still perceived as a pretty wild idea. But with a little ingenuity, Lucas managed to provide both monstrous guitar chords and a thundering bottom end from a single instrument, and when that’s combined with the fury of Harding’s drumming, Local H has often been more powerful than bands with three times as many members.
Lucas has followed other musical-genre interests under other band or project names, and that’s allowed Local H to continuously refine their music from album to album with a laser focus. They are one of the few bands I can think of that have released the volume of music they have, over three decades, and never wavered in quality.* Do Lucas and his collaborators get much credit for this? Not nearly enough—but I’ve gleaned over the years that when you are uniformly excellent, the price you pay is people taking that for granted. So while Local H has never let fans down, I think as years have passed the general public has maybe fallen short of giving the band the recognition they deserve.
This would be argument enough for showing the band some love at tonight’s show, but there’s another reason: Lucas launched The LIFERS podcast during the pandemic with his friends Gabe Rodriguez and Ben Reiser, and it’s grown into a must-listen. The episodes focus on conversations with other creative “lifers,” anyone from musicians to visual artists to the real movers and shakers who actually get shit done in the community. They remind me of similar conversations I’ve had with Lucas or any number of other friends who’ve spent years in the industry in one form or another, sitting at the end of a bar at Liar’s Club or GMan, and all the episodes are illuminating, amusing, educational, and often just crackling with human energy. For me they’ve been a lifeline at times, and if a podcast has that effect on me, I reckon it will connect with just about anyone.
Did I also mention how Local H were possibly the hardest working band during the earlier stages of the pandemic, putting on drive-in theater parking lot shows instead of just sitting at home and fretting? And that the band released the third volume of the Local H “mixtape” series during a time when most groups were simply re-releasing live recordings to make up for the musical void left by the first year of the pandemic? Local H simply can’t stop doing what they do—they’re lifers. And for that, I thank them.
So if you’ve been missing live music for too long and feel OK being around a lot of other people** I have a feeling tonight’s show will be all killer, no filler, and leave you feeling like your internal battery’s been recharged and buzzing over with electrical feels.
Whether you’re a longtime fan, a neophyte, or lapsed casual listener to Local H’s music—it’s gonna be a blast.
Local H headlines Wicker Park Fest tonight, Friday July 22, at 8:30pm. They’re asking for a $10 donation at the door, and if you’ve got ten bucks you can spare just hand it over and smile instead of creating a fuss about how “public streets need to be free!” In my experience, most people making that argument can afford to support a public concert event, while the people that probably can’t afford to pay always do because they realize that without that money, there’s no fest the following year.
*Sloan is the only other one. Can you think of any others?
**No judgment from me AT ALL if you’re not OK being around a lot of other people—you wouldn’t believe how many shows I’ve bought tickets to and skipped because I just couldn’t be around that many people during this or that COVID surge.