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Saturday October 20th, 2007 at Reggie's Rock Club in Chicago, IL
Avengers, Pansy Division, Hotlips Messiah, & Four Star Alarm
Penelope Houston of Avengers
Chris Freeman of Pansy Division
Traci Trouble of Hotlips Messiah
Greg Mytych of Four Star Alarm
[more photos]
[6.2M mp4 video]

I'm afraid I haven't got time to do a full show account for this. So, here is a quick rundown of the bands:

Four Star Alarm are a local Chicago four-piece that must have a long list of "ex member of" credentials. The band reminded me of Jawbreaker, Monsula, Samiam and a host of other 90s punk bands that built their songs from punk energy, pop sensibilities, and discordant, grating post-hardcore guitars. The fact that the guitarist was wearing a Naked Raygun shirt should give you some idea as to where his head is.

Chicago's Hotlips Messiah slipped back another decade to find its influences among the goofy punk rock of the mid 80s. Think of a band like Sloppy Seconds. The quintet's music is defined by silly keyboards that sound like they were lifted from NES video games, circus music, or 60s sci-fi films. Of course the focal point of the band is vocalist "Traci Trouble," who is just that, trouble. She's engaging, and toys with the audience like a stripper – it's a constant tease, the audience smiles, blushes and then hopes for more.

Pansy Division is touring with a revamped line-up, and is working on a new album after a bit of time off. Thankfully the quartet is still on the mark, and delivered a 16-song set of gay-themed pop punk songs that are silly, derivative, and fun. The band's corny and campy stage show was lead by vocalist/guitarist Jon Ginoli who was all smiles and coy double entendres, while bassist/vocalist Chris Freeman was sass and fabulousness. Freeman finished the set by letting his sequined dress fall to the ground, revealing a small yellow bikini. Some of the audience weren't amused, and even audibly questioned Pansy Division's spot on the bill. Of course Pansy Division's Luis Illades and Joel Reader also served as the Avengers' rhythm section, so it'd be hard to have one without the other.

San Francisco's Avengers is one of the best US punk bands to come out of the '77 explosion. Sadly, the band was never around long enough to release a proper album, and what was released is currently out-of-print on now-defunct labels. Because of this, the band has never really gotten its due. Maybe that's the reason for the reunion tours. This resurrected line-up features original singer Penelope Houston, original guitarist Greg Ingraham, along with the aforementioned players, running through the band's melodic punk rock tunes. Thirty years later, Houston still sounds and looks good – even if she was occasionally out of breath. However, it wasn't until the second-to-last song of the set (a cover of The Stones' "Paint it Black") that the audience got into it. Albeit fuelled by only eight or so safety pin punks in their late 20s, a small pit did erupt, and even proffered a solitary crowd surfer.