Lunch at the Punk Picnic

Attending basement and backyard shows is a quick way to boose your knowledge of Chicago geography. While going to see your favorite indie and will take you down a well-worn Blue Line trip to any number of Wicker Park venues, catching D.I.Y. “-core” shows often requires several confused minutes on the CTA website before embarking upon a series of little-known buses. Last Saturday’s ” Little Village Punk Picnic 2007″ required a lengthy ride on the mysterious and oft-mocked Pink Line to Central Park Avenue and a brisk walk down to 24th Street.

Upon arrival at our destination–a small backyard full of hardcore kids, a distro table, and a garage-turned-performance space–the show had not yet begun, so my fellow concert-goers and I took a walk down to 26th Street in search of refreshments. One hour later we returned, stomachs full, with Miller High Life in tow. Compulsive Uprise was the first band, followed by Intifada and Eske, all local bands playing fast and raw “traditional” hardcore. During these first acts, the audience was stationary saw for two large flannel-clad men plodding about in front of the stage, forming a primordial circle pit. By early evening, they had been joined by a half-dozen “punk-ass kids” and, by the time Eske took the stage, even the scenesters and posers had jumped itno the fray. Between acts, I headed to the merch table to check out the wares and left with the two most offensive-looking seven-inches I could find. Both of them are unmentionable in polite company, although I can say one of them marries the Brady Bunch and unconventional sexual lifestyles into a kind of perverted mini-concept album.

Around this time, dinner was served: delicious sancocho, a meat-and-rood stew prepared by the girlfriend of one of the concert’s organizers. The food was two bucks for vegan and three for meat so, feeling low on protein after the afteroon’s sonic assault, I spent the extra dollar and finished eating as the fifty-percent-dreadlocked La Armada was setting up. La Armada played a set of technical progressive hardcore and was followed by Disrobe, a local powerviolence band. Next up was Abrade, an excellent grindcore band featuring maniacal drumming and call-and-response “cookie monster” vocals. The last two bands of the evening were Tras De Nada and Sin Orden. Halfway through Tras De Nada’s set, blue lights flashed in the alley behind the yard and sirens rang out. Marco of Tras De Nada’s response to this disturbance was poignant for all: “Fuck the police! fuck the police state!” Realizing that their law was no good in this alley, the police drove away and the band finished up and made way for Sin Orden. Sin Orden’s manic set was stretched out to almost an hour by repeated calls of “Otra! Otra!” from the audience, whose latent aggression was unleashed by the band’s brutal but inspirational approach to performing. The following morning I awoke with soreness in my muscles and a sharp neck pain, but filled with a sense of contentment that can only follow a well-fought battle. Otra!