You Weren’t There DVD release show

Saturday night was a big night in the world of Chicago punk rock, it was the official DVD release screening and show for the documentary, You Weren’t There.  The documentary does a monumental job of telling the history of punk rock in Chicago, which was a city whose punk scene never got the recognition that places like New York and Los Angeles did, despite the fact that we had a number of great and unique bands here.

Regressive Films rented out the same theater to host the DVD screening of the movie that they did almost two years ago for the initial release of the film, the Portage Theater on Chicago’s northwest side. The sizable crowd, though not as large as the last time, was full of familiar faces from bands past, some of which were featured in the film. There were also some younger faces in the crowd who weren’t actually there at the time, but have just as great of an appreciation for the history of punk rock in Chicago as the old timers, making the entire event feel like some sort of wonderful family reunion that included all your distant cousins. The movie was even more enjoyable a second time around and warrants multiple views which is now possible thanks to its release on DVD this week.


Tutu and the Pirates


Tutu and the Pirates


Tutu and the Pirates


Tutu and the Pirates


Tutu and the Pirates


Tutu and the Pirates

After the film, the Empty Bottle played host to a three band bill of old school Chicago punk bands reuniting for this special occasion. Chicago’s first punk band, Tutu and the Pirates, started the show off and were probably the band everyone was most excited to see despite the fact they never released any records ever in their career! They came out with nearly their full original lineup (the drummer I believe was the only non-founding member but has been around since the early days) and completely stole the show. They played such punk favorites as “I got Zits” and the song about the Janitor complete with the toilet seat bass and plunger gimmick! The crowd were totally entertained and if you didn’t know better you’d swear these guys never stopped playing because they sounded great and even timeless. Age has been kind to this fun group of guys and hopefully they’ll dig up any old demo tapes and get them released somewhere. Hell I’d do a 7″ of their old material on my own label just to rectify the sad fact that they never put one out before!


Savage Beliefs


Savage Beliefs


Savage Beliefs


Savage Beliefs


Savage Beliefs

Next up was Savage Beliefs, or what was left of them anyway. Original Members Brian Gay and Wes Tabayoyong joined Rights of the Accused’s Anthony Illarde and You Weren’t There Filmmaker and former Life Sentence member Joe Lasurdo to do a set of Savage Belifes songs as well as a cover of Government Issue’s “Sheer Terror”, a band that Brian Gay was a member of before coming to Chicago and forming Savage Beliefs. They sounded great as well and as someone who never got a chance to see the full original band, I was pretty happy to see some form of it close to three decades later. The band seemed to be having quite a bit of fun as there was a lot of smiling going on up on the small stage. They finished their set with their amazing song, “Big Big Sky”.


Silver Abuse


Silver Abuse


Silver Abuse

Silver Abuse closed the evening with about a 45 minute set of mostly older material plus a couple newer songs off their new CD they were selling at the show. This saw the first new Silver Abuse material in over a quarter century! If you didn’t know any better you’d think they were all old songs they were playing because the new stuff sounded that much like the other Silver Abuse material it was like no time had passed since the creation of the old songs and the new ones.


Silver Abuse


Silver Abuse


Silver Abuse


Silver Abuse

It was nice to see a decent turnout in support of such a fine documentary which pays tribute to the great and original old punk rock music this city spawned in the late 1970s and early 1980s, something that has left a lasting impression on its generation plus those that followed. Those that weren’t there (again!) really missed out on a special evening that isn’t likely to ever happen again, just like the subject matter documented in You Weren’t There. At least do yourselves a favor and pick up the DVD, it will be the best punk rock film you’ll watch for some time to come.