Show Review: Local H At The Crocodile - 6/6/16

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By Grady Tyree

How many times do you get to see the band open for the band? No, I’m not talking about The Band – the classic rock band featuring Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson - I’m using the term just as a descriptor. A few nights back I got to see the current line-up of Local H (Scott Lucas and Ryan Harding) open up for the original Local H line-up (Scott Lucas and Joe Daniels), and it was fucking amazing! Local H holds a special place in my heart, and in my musicology, as their sophomore release, As Good As Dead, was the album that began my personal musical journey, the first album I purchased with no influence from friends or family. I bought it after one listen to its lead single, “Bound For The Floor”, and I’ve never looked back.

As Good As Dead has been circulating the airwaves for twenty years now. Released back in April of 1996, it’s stayed in constant rotation for me over those two decades. Even with the line-up changes, the essence of Local H has remained the same and Scott has always brought in heavy-handed drummers who meet his ferocity on stage. Each release has had its bright spots or head-banging hits, but AGAD is possibly their most complete album. To help celebrate the milestone anniversary of its release, Scott toyed around with the idea of bringing Joe back just to play a few gigs around Chicago, but that quickly morphed into a cross-country tour with two drummers as Joe worked off the dust in their practice space leading up to their two-night headlining shows at the Metro in Chicago.

The Croc show started with Scott and Ryan, whose kit was set up on stage-left, and the two of them laid the foundation for the show, filling the room with thunderous drum fills and walls of distorted bass and guitar chords as they rambled through a catalog of songs that included “John The Baptist Blues,” “Hands On The Bible,” “Keep Your Girlfriend,” “The One with 'Kid,'” and the sing-along favorite, “California Songs.” The duo worked the crowd into an angry hornet’s nest before taking a 30-minute break between sets.

Once the lights dimmed after the “intermission” and Scott and Joe took the stage, the crowd erupted in applause and chants of “Joe! Joe! Joe!” as both took their respective spots on stage – Scott in the center of two drum sets, and Joe with his kit right up-front, stage-right. They kicked off the As Good As Dead set with “Manifest Destiny, Pt. 1” before jamming right into their biggest, most commercially successful single, “Bound For The Floor,” which got the audience amped. Crowd-surfers popped up randomly, riding the wave of arms right to the stage, where they promptly stood up and jumped right back into the fray as Scott and Joe churned through cut after cut from this quintessential ‘90s record. Going into the show, I thought they would play the album in order, but was pleasantly surprised when they mixed it up and saved the best for last. They crushed the crowd with head-bangers like “Nothing Special,” “Freeze-Dried (F)lies,” and “Back In The Day” alongside “Eddie Vedder,” “Lovey Dovey,” and “No Problem,” a track Scott did predominately alone as Joe stepped back to grab water for the patrons sweating it out in front of them. But when Joe did get back behind the kit, it was the familiar thump of the floor toms that let the fans know it was time for some high-fivin’ action, and the dynamic duo ramped into the fan-favorite “High Fivin’ MF”!! It was an unbelievable show in the end, the energy the band put forth was equally given back to them from the gracious crowd, and it was so cool to see Scott and Joe back at it, as they were when I saw them five times in 1997. Thanks for the trip back in time…