Concert Review: Plebeian Grandstand, Pyrrhon, and Air Raid at the Livewire Lounge, Chicago, Illinois – August 3rd, 2016

The always well-attended Summer Slaughter tour came to Chicago one cloudy Wednesday night, with a packed lineup of death metal giants. Nile, Suffocation, Revocation, and headliners Cannibal Corpse played to a packed and pickled pit until the wee hours of the morning, and few prevailed without injury. Truly, it was a night to be remembered.

At least, I assume that happened. I elected to skip the megatour (and probably the best pit Chicago will see all year) and head just a few miles further up Milwaukee avenue to see the most Kronos-approved bill that will ever come to be; the tour to end all tours. Plebeain Grandstand. Pyrrhon. The trvest of the trve had gathered.

Despite hearing mixed opinions from friends, my first impression of the Livewire Lounge was quite positive. I was told beforehand that the place had a strict no moshing policy, but it’s easy to see why when you get there. It’s not much more than a hallway, and the better half of that hallway was taken up by an intimidatingly vast bar. No sooner did I walk in the door than I was greeted by a helpful bouncer and his loyal hound, who mooched around looking for backscratches before the show began (the hound, that is). And it got plenty. But distracted though I was by canine company, it didn’t take long for me to find Plebeian Grandstand’s merch table and grill drummer Ivo Kaltchev about why the hell they didn’t print t-shirts with their album covers on them.

Livewire Lounge stage

But the chit-chat had to draw to a close as Air Raid took the stage and begain playing what was, of course, irreverent and speedy thrash like you’ve definitely seen. With a name like Air Raid, you’d expect nothing less than thrash, but the band traded in bullet belts and big three worship for gleeful crassness. With entertaining songs like “AIDS Bullet,” “Helium Hardon,” and “Aborted with a Fist,” it’s easy to imagine these guys’ upcoming album getting quite a lot of buzz. Their set had a few twists as well, as the stage left guitarist broke a string just seconds into a song and employed a few audience members to help him hot swap. The audience was also showered in bloody tea bags.

IMAG0068Pyrrhon brought all of the madness the tiny stage could muster right from the count-in of “Cancer Mantra,” and the set was a tightly scripted disaster in the best possible way. “Turing’s Revenge” sounded even more wretched live than on the grimy Growth Without End EP, with Doug Moore retching and cackling his way through in an intimidating performance. Two new songs were up next and their combined impact has left me restless for the band’s next release, which Doug and bassist Erik Malave were excited about after the show, regaling me with a tale of how being dropped from Relapse actually helped them get into the UK for a tour. The band’s improvisation was reeling and intense but never seemed out of control, even in a drawn -out rendition of “The Mother of Virtues” at the end of the set.

As Plebeian Grandstand stormed the stage, Adrien Broué ushered the crowd forward to the crows of “Mal Du Siècle” and when “Low Empire” kicked in, he nearly took my face off with a combination of gurgling rasps and a wildly swinging microphone. Yet for all the intensity of the first two songs, it was “Thrvst” that the crowd really went wild for – and once the first hideous chime broke through the entire room was moving as much as space and management would allow. Like Pyrrhon, the band kept to their latest material, and though I would have loved to see “Nice Days Are Weak” or “Easy to Hate, Hard to Define” unfold before me, the explosion of “Eros Culture” was more than enough to satiate my gluttony for aural punishment. And as Broué howled its last phrases just inches from my beaming face, everyone in that room was of the same opinion:

Plebeian Grandstand live

Fuck Summer Slaughter.

Thanks to the Livewire Lounge for booking the ugliest concert around, and to Air Raid, Pyrrhon and Plebeian Grandstand for playing incredible sets – and stay tuned for more Windy City brutality this fall when Ulcerate, Phobocosm, and Zhrine roll through on what should have been named “Zhrines of Paralysis.”

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