Hot Stove, Cool Music: An Evening of 'Controlled Chaos'

Hot Stove, Cool Music: An Evening of 'Controlled Chaos'
Len Kasper just living a little dream, playing bass for Gary Klebe of Shoes

If you live in the Chicago area and are a fan of alternative music, you have undoubtedly taken a trip or two to Metro. Hell, I've seen some of my most memorable shows there, from Bob Mould, to Cheap Trick, to Goo Goo Dolls, to Material Issue. That venue, much like the Chicago Cubs and locally grown rock, is a part of my DNA ... And  it's also the result of many mornings that came way too early for my voice and ears.

KingSo when I learned that Hot Stove, Cool Music, the charity concert to support the Foundation to be Named Later, was not only going to be at Metro but would also have an entirely Chicago flavor, I was interested in seeing (and hearing) where the night would go.

Usually when one hears of dedication bands or tribute concerts, you kind of brush them aside. Do I really want to hear four guys impersonate The Beatles? No.

But this event had a different flavor and, in the end, rocking result, thanks to the planning and execution by Len Kasper and Matt Spiegel, two music junkies.

Jimmy Chamberlin drumming out "Cherub Rock"? John Stirratt playing bass for someone other than Jeff Tweedy on "Monday"?

Yeah, those are just a couple examples of how the evening went. I'll cover some of the highlights below, but I feel it's important to first talk about how this whole thing came together.

Noting the importance of journalistic integrity in Cubs Insider, I have checked my facts on the following accounts but have yet to get responses from any sources. In the interest of time, I'm running with this anyway:

Kasper was on a late-night flight between Milwaukee and Cincinnati in April and had a premonition about putting on a rock show. The voice in his dream said something along the lines of, "If you put it on, there will be shoes."

Feeling the drive to develop this show, he returned to Chicago, grabbed a few '80s and '90s compilation cassettes, hopped in his Volkswagen van, grabbed his friend Matt Spiegel and went about to assemble a who's who in Chicago rock. They rode around town, snagging up the likes of Tom Morello, Eddie "King" Roeser, Scott Lucas, Jimmy Chamerblin and John Stirratt. They found Lin Brehmer auctioning Mark Prior jerseys at Maxwell Street Market and grabbed him too.

It had to be a baseball theme, so they headed out east to pick up Peter Gammons, and then made their way back to 1060 W. Addison to get Theo Epstein.

The team was in place ... Or was it?

On their way to Metro, they saw this kid hitchhiking on Clark Street, wearing double denim and wearing a guitar on his back. This kid, Split Single's Jason Narducy, told Kasper and Spiegel that he had heard about this concert that was happening, where the best in Chicago rock would play and that a secret special guest would be there. Kasper and Spiegel told that young man that, indeed, there was such a place and that they were going there just then.

And then the show went on.

Nielsen-MorelloSpiegel and Kasper opened with Cheap Trick's "Hello There," asking the audience, "Are you ready to rock?" They were. Three songs in, when Len and Matt rocked through Material Issue's "Renee Remains the Same," I knew I was in for something special. The last time I heard that song performed live anywhere was in June 1996 at Metro. It was Material Issue's last show at that same venue, and then Jim Ellison left us far too soon mere days later.

Hearing that song again, and at Metro, set the mood for the rest of the evening, which included some memorable performances and unique collaborations:

  • King Roeser cranking out "Sister Havana" and "Positive Bleeding"
  • Peter Gammons jamming Marvin Gaye's "Hitch Hike" and Paul Butterfield's "Born in Chicago"
    Earlier in the evening, I had the chance to catch up with Gammons, who told me his best Wrigley Field memory was Kerry Wood's 20K game, telling me, "I remember watching that game and saying, 'God, I hope his arm survives.'" I think we know how that turned out. 
  • Scott Lucas of Local H and Jimmy Chamberlin pounding out Local H's "Bound for the Floor" and the Pumpkins' "Cherub Rock
  • John Stirratt supporting Matt Spiegel on Wilco's "Monday"
    It was at this point in the evening that I learned that somehow Spiegel not only learned where I lived but where I kept my Bucket List journal, ripping a page from it
  • Tom Morello, possibly one of the loudest guitar players I have ever heard, hammering out the Blues Brothers' "Gimme Some Lovin'" and Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad"
    Morello also went over his seven-step plan for getting the Cubs to the World Series during an extended rendition of "This Land is Your Land." I'll leave it to @DEvanAltman for the commentary on this one.Stirratt

I'm sure I captured the most important stuff here (see full set list below), in what amounted to nearly three hours of music.

Oh, that's right, Len's premonition.

Kasper got to check off a bucket list item of his own in playing bass behind Gary Klebe of Shoes for "In Harm's Way" and "Too Late."

I think that wraps up the Stage of Dreams.

Oh, there was still Jason. Why was he there?

The answer came when out of the corn stalks emerged Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick, the night's surprise guests, who stopped by to play a couple of their own jams--after playing a Cheap Trick show that evening.

I'm pretty sure Narducy, who backed them on guitar, will tell you that he can still be found somewhere around Cloud 54 or so for the next little while. I was right there with him.

Brehmer and baseball's E.F. Hutton, Peter Gammons, discuss Gammons' next song

To witness this convergence of some of my favorite musicians together, an arm's length from me, playing two of my all-time favorite songs in "Surrender" and "I Want You to Want Me," is something I, and the ears that continue to recover from the Nielsen-Morello guitar explosion, won't soon forget.

As the the closing chords of The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter," a song Kasper says they didn't even rehearse together, echoed through the room, it was hard not to walk away thinking you got your money's worth for that concert.

Kasper later described the night to me as "blissful chaos." That's a decent way to sum up an evening of so many great collaborative acts and songs, and with your surprise guests arriving a little earlier than planned, but I would also add to the description "memorable" and "not to be missed next year."

Set List




Hello There

Cheap Trick


Southern Girls

Cheap Trick


Renee Remains The Same

Material Issue


Sister Havana

Urge Overkill


Positive Bleeding

Urge Overkill



Shadows Of Knight


In Harm’s Way



Too Late



I Only Have Eyes For You



Hitch Hike

Marvin Gaye



Arthur Lee Maye


Born In Chicago

Paul Butterfield


You’re No Good

Betty Everett


Snatch It Back

Junior Wells


I Can’t Work No Longer

Billy Butler


You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

Bo Diddley


Back Door Man



Double Vision



Bound For The Floor

Local H


Cherub Rock

Smashing Pumpkins


The Sailing Ship

Cryan Shames






Cheap Trick Lucas
I Want You To Want Me

Cheap Trick


Ghost of Tom Joad



Road I Must Travel/Sleep Now In The Fire



Gimme Some Lovin’

Blues Brothers


This Land Is Your Land

Woodie Guthrie


Lawyers Guns and Money

Warren Zevon


Gimme Shelter

Rolling Stones



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  • It was a great concert, a good time, and it raised $$$$.

    I won't soon forget The Night Watchman destroying that guitar. Neither will my right ear.

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