Saturday night at a crazy, sweaty, sold out Metro, Scott Lucas and Brian St. Clair tore through a ninety minute set in celebration of one of St. Clair’s final shows after fourteen years as Local H drummer, joined in the process by a slew of special guests for the sendoff…
In 1999, Brian St. Clair took over for Joe Daniels as drummer of Local H and has remained in that spot for the past fourteen years as Scott Lucas’s bombastic secret weapon in the consummate alt-rock duo Local H.
Soon to depart the band (following a string of east coast tour dates and a final Chicagoland sendoff October 11th at H.O.M.E. in Arlington Heights), St. Clair is set to focus on his tour management and production company, Tour Time Productions.
But Saturday night at a sold out Metro, the focus was squarely on St. Clair and his legacy manning the skins for not only Local H but a number of other influential local bands as well (more on this later).
One of the crazier crowds I’ve been part of at Metro in quite some time, this one was worked up from the start. “Brian! Brian! Brian!” went the chant as St. Clair and Lucas walked out on stage to set up following Purple Apple’s forty-five minute opening set. As usual the duo set up their own equipment, just another aspect of the band that endears them strongly to their blue collar fan base.
Local H’s return home to Chicago doubled as one of the band’s higher profile, larger venue gigs following a year of typically relentless touring that, nevertheless, saw most area gigs dot the surrounding suburbs. “It’s good to be back at Metro” mused Lucas, coming up for air about midway through the set.
In addition to the crazed crowd, the opening notes of a cover of The National’s “Terrible Love” proved something else: following a February mugging in Moscow that saw him sustain damage to his vocal chords, Lucas’s voice is still not one hundred percent. (“We ruled out surgery… If I’m careful – if I’m smart – I don’t think we’re looking at long time damage” he told me in March via email while recuperating). That said, Lucas’s vocals continued to improve throughout the course of the ninety minute set.
Following “Terrible Love,” the duo picked up the pace and sped full speed, with reckless abandon, straight through to the encore break pausing for nary a word or pleasantry throughout.
Brian St. Clair channels Dave Grohl as he pummels his kit relentlessly with restless fills, playing in a crazed, full body manner that rarely slows down let alone stops.
“The One With ‘Kid'” was particularly impressive early – The song’s cutting riffs and heart-on-sleeve lyrics providing one of the evening’s fastest performances and all the reason those on the floor needed to mosh with an impassioned fervor.
The best one-two punch Saturday night came in the form of an eleven year old track and a brand new one. “This was Brian’s first single” noted Lucas as he fired off the buzzsaw guitar lick that starts “Half Life.” As another Chicago summer draws to an end, “Another February” was apropos, the song’s tale of easily relatable winter frustration providing one of the night’s highlights.
The crowd actually saved it’s craziest reaction for the end of the main set. From their 1996 breakthrough album As Good as Dead, a bass heavy performance of “Fritz’s Corner” (Lucas broke a guitar string during it) was one of the more aggressive tracks that Local H churned out Saturday night at Metro. The song tells a tale of small town angst and frustration… and the crowd responded in kind, the song providing the soundtrack to a pushy, sweaty, mosh pit that was hard to avoid as half empty beer cups flew through the air.
But Lucas saved his biggest surprises for the encore (and his drummer). “Brian St. Clair, this is your life” he joked as he led St. Clair on a tour of his musical past.
The encore kicked off by reuniting St. Clair with his former Rights of the Accused bandmate Michael O’Connell on vocals for a full band rendition of “Give it All You Got” from the 1991 album Kick Happy, Thrill Hungry, Reckless & Willing.
From there Ronnie Schneider and Kevin Tihista of Chicago nineties stalwarts Triple Fast Action joined in for a pair from the band’s 1997 album Cattlemen Don’t. Lucas, who’s been known to join the band on guitar in the past did so again Saturday night on both “Bearer of Bad News” and “Heroes.” The Triple Fast members ultimately stuck around for a set closing version of TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me.”
As the set ended, Lucas dove from the stage, crowd surfing all the way to the back of the Metro floor, eventually standing on the soundboard and grabbing onto the bottom portion of the balcony. Metro founder and owner Joe Shanahan took to the stage with some parting words for the sold out crowd in recognition of Brian St. Clair’s last Chicago show with the band and Local H’s legacy as one of the last standing bands from the city’s nineties, alternative heyday. Raising a toast to the band, Shanahan pointed out that Local H has performed at Metro in each of it’s three decades as a Chicago live music staple – something not a lot of bands can claim.
(Saturday’s Local H/Metro setlist after the jump)
– Jim Ryan (@RadioJimRyan)
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Local H setlist
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Brian St. Clair’s last Local H show in Chicago
(With members of Rights of the Accused and Triple Fast Action)
- “Terrible Love” (The National cover)
- “Heaven on the Way Down”
- “Eddie Vedder”
- “They Saved Reagan’s Brain”
- “The One With ‘Kid'”
- “Hands on the Bible”
- “Cold Manor”
- “California Songs”
- “Half Life”
- “Another February”
- “Nothing Special”
- “All the Kids are Right”
- “All Right (Oh Yeah)”
- “Fritz’s Corner
- “Give it All You Got” (Rights of the Accused cover with Michael O’Connell)
- “Bearer of Bad News” (Triple Fast Action cover with Kevin Tihista and Ronnie Schneider)
- “Heroes” (Triple Fast Action cover with Kevin Tihista and Ronnie Schneider)
- “Wolf Like Me” (TV on the Radio cover with Kevin Tihista and Ronnie Schneider)