For a select few hundred people (it’s probably more than that), Destroy Fest 2023 at the Metro was the best place to weather the rain-soaked mugginess of last Saturday night. After all, what’s better than seeing a bunch of female-fronted punk bands scream their lives out into oblivion on a Saturday? I’m not quite certain if Destroy Fest was just the name of the tour or if Destroy Boys really do have their own mini-touring festival of sorts, but any excuse to pack five absolutely killer bands into one of my favorite music venues ever is fine by me.
Bugsy, an indie pop/punk outfit from Minneapolis opened the show and was just so gosh-darn fun. It hadn’t even been a month since the last time they were in Chicago (and apparently they saw Wednesday live at the Metro while they were in town?!) but I’m sure that wasn’t of concern to any fans in the crowd last Saturday. Bugsy brought to the stage a really refreshing take on indie pop by giving it a real big punk twist that translated itself into a setlist of a bunch of fun, bouncy numbers that even included a crazed cover of the Fall Out Boy classic, “Dance, Dance”. I wasn’t able to make out most song titles, but their last song, “hard to breathe”, taken from their 2020 EP, Teratoma, was a soft, nuanced slice of indie pop that felt like the perfect emotional conclusion to their set and one you have to check out.
Destructo Disk from Virginia played next and really brought the heat in the form of really fast, aggressive hardcore. I had only heard one or two songs before the show and had absolutely zero idea they’d end up being this much fun live. Most songs were perched upon the lyrical plateaus of weed, skating, video games, and a general distaste towards law enforcement and as you might expect, each song went harder than the last. Each band that night brought an insane amount of energy but I’m not quite sure if anyone topped Destructo Disk in terms of sheer physicality. It was such a blast seeing them on stage having the time of their life and acting as crazy as they possibly could with every last drop of their energy being reflected back to them from the audience absolutely intoxicated from what they were witnessing. In addition to being stellar punks, they’re also stellar heartwarmers as they dedicated their set that night to their friend and Virginia neighbor, Daryl, who played a big part in getting their band off the ground but was recently diagnosed with cancer. You got this, Daryl! With Destructo Disk and all of Chicago in your corner, you can’t lose!
A small yet deadly slice of New York City alternative metal was up next in the form of Jigsaw Youth. With only three members, you wouldn’t think they’d sound nearly as loud or in-your-face as compared to the other acts that night, but that’s where you’d be dead wrong. They were small but they were mighty and no other band that night pumped up the crowd so effectively and with such ferocity as Jigsaw Youth and I’m sure they were plenty of people’s favorites that night. Even though they felt right at home on Destroy Fest, they did have a sound that felt far closer to the Nü metal acts of the early 2000s like Saliva and P.O.D. than the other bands but it honestly only made me appreciate the tour lineup even more for its healthy diversity of punk sounds.
Going into the show last Saturday, the only two bands I knew were Gully Boys and, obviously, Destroy Boys so I was beyond excited when the former took the stage. They didn’t interact with the audience much but they were really only one of two bands that night that I don’t think needed to because their music and reputation spoke for themselves, plain and simple. They played a vast collection of songs ranging from those taken from their 2018 debut album, Not so Brave, to “Optimist”, their latest single that came out only a few months ago. A few highlights included my favorite Gully Boys song called “New Song No. 2”, a cover of “Violet” by Hole, and “The Way” from their 2021 EP, Favorite Son, featuring a not-so-random cameo from Destroy Boys’ leader singer Alexia Roditis that lit up the faces of everyone in the audience who couldn’t keep their excitement contained for what band was to come next.
Speaking of Destroy Boys, how about we talk about Destroy Boys? They had some tough acts to follow as I’m sure they knew but they don’t strike me as a group that is at all worried about being upstaged, they just want to tour and have exorbitant amounts of fun with their friends which this show (and tour, for that matter) definitely showcased. More so than any other band that night, Destroy Boys had the least bit of trouble jazzing up the audience with little to no effort at all. Most of the crowd showed up early right for Bugsy but you could tell most were there for Destroy Boys. If my memory serves me correctly, they played a 16-song set consisting of pretty much every classic and every hit from their three albums including two of their most recent singles, “Beg For The Torture” and “Shadow (I’m Breaking Down)” released just this month! Their entire set and performance were filled to the brim with chaotic energy, unbridled fury, and unrelenting support for the LGBTQ+ community. Opening their set with “Drink” from their 2021 album Open Mouth, Open Heart was a definitive choice and the pace didn’t let up from there as they tore through other tracks like “Vixen”, “Cherry Garcia”, “Muzzle”, and “Crybaby” all the while breaking to speak up on various social issues and causes they feel passionate about such as affordable housing, defunding the police, and LGBTQ+ rights. When it came time for the encore, they started off with a little sleight-of-hand playing the semi-reserved “Piedmont” from their 2018 album, Make Room, before bulldozing into their biggest and messiest punk anthem, “I Threw Glass at My Friend’s Eyes and Now I’m on Probation” from their 2017 debut album aptly titled, Sorry, Mom.
I couldn’t think of a better way to end a show with such a wild and legendary lineup than playing one of the most fun songs ever that just makes you want to do fun, just on the edge of illegal things at the expense of your friend’s well-being and health. All I know is after that show, we need to make Destroy Fest a yearly affair in Chicago so write your local alderman, and let’s get it done, yeah?