We are kicking off our three-part series of our best of Springfield 2016 this year with the shows! This year shows took place in more places than ever around Springfield! They happened at Black Sheep of course, but also in Dumb Records, plenty in bars, plenty at The Radon Lounge and in other houses, they happened in barns, at the Library, and even at Hardee’s. We counted a total of 135 shows to happen this year at Black Sheep alone. Let’s take a look at your top ten favorites for shows that happened in the Springfield area this year. Each entry includes a write-up done by a different Springfield musician or someone involved with the music scene.
10. Mysterious Skin, Starlorde, and Garter at Black Sheep (2-23-16)
Mysterious Skin was a band I was beyond excited to see. Their music online hit you rough and fast, and their set totally delivered with a series of nasty jams that had me bobbin my head so much I had to get my neck replaced. They really ripped. This was also the first Starlorde show, a band which has quickly become one of my favorite active local bands. Lord Xenu and his minions never disappoint in bringing that otherworldly hardcore sound, and this night was no different. I remember the big reveal as they trudged out in their uniforms, and I instantly knew it was going to be a great set. Garter was the more experienced local act, and they of course also tore it up with Cassie’s sassy as hell presentation and Nighthawk shredding away on guitar. This show was the culmination of a lot of great things going on at the time, and was a true blast. – Drew Kodrich (Black Sheep, Ooey Gooey Record Co.)
9. Teen Freak (reunion), Doby Watson, La Louve, and Shark Week at Black Sheep (2-20)
Every year I (Jess) try to have a show at Black Sheep for my birthday and this year was my favorite lineup ever!! I got to share the stage with so many of my friends from all over the place! Atom Lax from Ohio started it off with his solo fingerstyle acoustic project. Then Doby and Ada came in from Kansas City to play an arrangement of songs together, followed by riot punk band La Louve from Champaign IL and two locals!! Shark Week played their first show ever and my own band Teen Freak ended the night with our last show ever by tossing around tons and tons of cloth ribbon for everyone to spin and throw around the whole venue. I had the best birthday with the best people from home and far away. This is why Black Sheep is so special!”TEEN FrEAK #1 BAND. – Jess Knight (Teen Freak, Looming)
8. Hobgob 2016 at Bar None w/ NIL8, boon, Livin’ Thing (10-29-16)
This year’s Hobgob was much like it has always been in years before, lots of great bands and old friends get together and celebrate their favorite holiday, but this year had an extra special feel. Nil8 decided to reunite the original lineup and played some songs many of us hadn’t heard for over a decade, or had never had the pleasure of hearing them live. To round it out Nil8 booked some of the most diverse in original bands Springfield has to offer with Boon and a Livin’ Thing. – Bernie Flesch (Bar None)
7. Looming, Euriah, Vonne at Black Sheep (8-21-16)
We pulled into the Black Sheep gravel lot just after the opener Vonne had finished. Coupla folks from Champaign had come along with me and like the fucken A Team we rolled out of the whip and grabbed my rig and started loading straight to the stage as I think Tyler from Au Revoir parked for me. I got soundchecked and made sure my shit worked just in time for Euriah to start. As I watched their set I was in awe—they were in the right place at the right time. I didn’t jump up from the front row until just before my part on the final song, and it was loud and adrenaline-fueled, and the emotions of Eric’s song and voice and the power of that band who’d tightened up just took us soaring. It was fascinating being both a performer onstage and an audience member at the same time.
All there is to say about Looming’s set is that it was perfect. It was the first time I’d gotten to see them with their newest member Cassie, who shredded; and though Jordi was rocking on a stool, they tore it UP. It’s worth noting that Brandon Tyler Carnes made a speech or two that made me tear up, though I don’t remember enough words to quote him. Something humble and hoarse about the moment being beautiful. The melodies and crashing rhythms felt like the air was swirling, and I was living in a moving polaroid picture. Standing along the side of the room, I feel like I spent equal parts admiring the talent and energy of each individual bandmember doing their thing as I did just looking into the crowd and seeing how all these kids were happy and joyous and TOGETHER—united in the feels of this damn near perfect band. It was a damn near perfect show. The ecstasy and instant nostalgia hung in the air after the amps were off like a kind of graduation, or a championship. – Isaac Arms (Heirship Records, Library House)
6. Black Sheep Cover Show at Bar None Part 5.5 (5-20-16)
On a personal note, the Cover Show at Bar None was a confluence of things I really dig. Outside of Black Sheep, Bar None’s Bernie Flesch is booking some of the best shows in Springfield, even though the turn out for them can be less than ideal. (Can we all resolve to attend more local shows in 2017, please?) So it was nice to see an example of two valued venues collaborating. I got to watch my husband and good friends perform some of our absolute favorite music, such as the tunes of New Order, St. Vincent & Television. It was definitely apparent how much work the musicians put into practicing, and the dance floor was aflame! Looking forward to the 2017 version!! -Rachel Otwell (WUIS, The Scene)
5. $1 Show w/ Nagasaki, Animals With Human Names, Famous Losers, Kenyon Deshasier, Terribly Happy, Kenyon D. at Black Sheep (12-2-16)
What can $1 buy in the beautiful Southtown complex in Springfield? A pretty sticker of a local band? A kick-ass used Vinyl record or cassette tape? Perhaps admission to one of the occasional, amazing one-dollar shows at Black Sheep Cafe. The December 2nd $1-dollar show this year started with electric guitar performance by Kenyon Deshasier. I remember Kenyon as the guitarist of Very Bad Surfers in Battle of the Bands a couple years back, a band with some serious, indie original originality. He only played two songs, both short and soothing in different ways. One sounded like an hour-long conversation between different waves of winds (or, was I just imagining?); another sounded like an important message personally unencrypted by an emotionally intense/passionate messenger. The next act was a funnily titled band called Famous Losers, from Jacksonville, Illinois. Since I reside in a small town myself, I was excited to see that there’s a young hip band, or any band, coming from a small town like Jacksonville. The lead singer was dressed in Superman attire, and the set covered classic teenage themes like breakups, school frustration, stalkers(?), fights, stuff. The name “Famous Losers” might be disguising a winning high school pop band in development. Animals with Human Names was next. The band name may inspire us to brainstorm all kinds of animals with all kinds of human names and contemplate the purpose of it all. It turned out to be a hip-hop act. The DJing and rapping, at some point, had the crowd danced and moved like hypnotized cobras motioned to the tunes of their flute charmers. The lyrics of the songs seemed to be about the animal conditions within all of us that pre-regulated by our human names. The next band Nagasaki was really a set to look forward to, even though it might not be clear what the exact reason was. Maybe for one, two of the four members of the next band Nagasaki played in Vonne (formerly called The Locals) and Starlorde, two truly awesome local bands. Seeing them collaborating with two new musicians, while playing new roles in the bands, were like seeing completely a different side of the beautiful mountain that is always in front of us. Two, the bass player in those two bands have been in the Black Sheep scene for the two years I have been in and I do not recall him ever spoken a word to the audience in the past. Him being given a mic and opening his mouth would be a rare scene. So, what was their set like? Absolute slam. They shed the Scottish Kilt image they wore in the debut performance at Dumb Records on October 30, 2016. The band revealed some kind of charismatic-dictator-like talents (including the previously silent bass player) to have people get out of the venue for them, get back in to the venue for them, mosh for them, love for them, et cetera. It was rowdy teenagers representing public school district 186 at their best, experiencing some quality punk time of their life (allegedly for the first time for some of them)—probably just before enacting their mundane, uneventful routines of late-night Steak and Shake. If you want to witness pop-turn-punk transitions among the teenage specie, there were fewer occasions better than the show. The last act was Terribly Happy, a solid out-of-town band from Peoria that has released 5 albums/EPs already. The performance was rock solid, and their experience showed. If you look into their history, this “pop punk” band sounded quite different between albums. Their latest album seemed to be about reconciling with contradictions in the modern life and still ended up terribly happy (merely my impression). The drummer looked like he was on a quest to challenge the absolute human limit of drumming, infixing all ordinary beats with unreal force, life, precision. He broke and replaced one drumstick after another during the show. Someone told me later that he witnessed the drum sticks virtually got shredded little by little as the drummer played, with pieces visibly coming off. Insane. – Gordon Chang (Macomb Events)
(You may visit most of these performances at http://www.youtube.com/macombevents)
4. Bent Life, Lowered A.D., Pryss, Capitol Offense, Stye at Black Sheep (11-25-16)
WOW so Thanksgiving sucks and Black Friday is SILLY but the Black Sheep managed to come thru with the best thing that could have happened in Springfield following such a dumpy duo of festivities. STYE from BloNo opened up this lil rocker which did not disappoint with their heavy head bobbin’ tunes. Pryss played next, so having the privilege to play one of my favorite shows of the year was pretty dope, and I know we all had a BLAST. Capitol Offense from Decatur kicked out the jams afterwards and they had this sick “fuck Donald Trump” mosh call, so who can argue with that? Backed hard. 10/10 you must throw down. BENT LIFE brought the party and the mosh all the khaki/camo jort boys were waiting for ensued. Man, I gotta say my bangover the next day was a harsh one cause there ain’t a dang Bent Life riff that isn’t a rocker. Lowered AD from soIL popped by to wrap up the night which will forever and always crush my soul in all the right ways. By far the best and heaviest band to come out of that region right now. This show was 12/10, a truly great hardcore show held in our beloved lil space. – Gus McCowen (Pryss)
3. KISS *Official* Aftershow in Glue Surfer’s Secret Tube w/ Lumpy & The Dumpers, Mala Leche, Livin’ Thing, Undone (8-17-16)
It felt like 2013 all over again: a mob of punks Strutting the half-mile crawl from the parking lot to the nearby Glue Tube, pushing along with them a generator and a full band’s worth of gear. A hidden pocket of terrible graffiti and abrasive echoes, the Tube takes Forever to get to, as it lies beneath a busy boulevard on the outskirts of town. For the fourth time in Springfield punk history, we found ourselves in that damn tunnel, and on a Wednesday of all days, but the occasion was well deserved; aging rock gods KISS had descended upon Springfield Rock City at the Illinois State Fair.
Unfortunately, those aging tongue shakers Gene and Paul politely declined a Glue Tube appearance for personal reasons, but the sets that night were no less than stellar. Undone Shouted it Out Loud and delivered the thrashing of a lifetime for the last time before their string section departed for Hong Kong. Mala Leche played like Heaven’s on Fire and got the crowd moving. Livin’ Thing played third, and right as they were about to Rock and Roll All Nite, the whirr of the generator powering down seemed to end the night early. It was as if the God of Thunder wanted to shut us down. Alas, we called Dr. Love (Nighthawk) up for duty, and he and a rocksuit-donned Brian Galecki made a quick escape on Nighthawk’s moped to get more gas and save the evening. Tears Were Falling when they returned, tears of pure relief. It made the final set of the night, Lumpy and the Dumpers, that much more magical. – Mario Cannamela (Livin’ Thing, Christmas Cannamela)
2. Our Lady release / final show w/ Lume, The Foxery, Estates at Black Sheep (10-24-16)
Well in October i played one of the shows that still comes to mind to me about every other day. I still give thanks to a lot of people that were apart of that show. Our Lady’s last show will still stay with me and it will always be a reminder to myself of the love of our music community and the art that each of us create to represent our little piece of nowhere. The show was indescribable, not just to say it, because it was probably the most connected to an audience I’ve ever felt. To go from a high school kid looking up to your favorite local band to becoming apart of their story and sharing yourself fully mentally, emotionally, and musically with them seems like a dream and it feels like each moment of the show captured it’s own sense of atmosphere as each band that played created a pallet of sounds and textures that was conducive to each other. All of this occurred with a room full of folks and friends from all over the country.
Estates opened the show with some solid jams I’ve played in my car about a million times before and getting to play with such good friends was a true treat. The Foxery(Pleasures of the Flesh) played one of their last shows as the Foxery and it was so cool to see them transform their set from their old to new sound with each song filling the dark room with no light with dark songs that touched the soul, a true musical experience that can’t be really described as it should be. Then, Lume played a LOUD wonderful set. Lume is a really great band from Chicago that can be described as beautiful bone-crushing jams almost as a reflection of the world seeming to crumble around us during their set. When then played PAINT ACTUALLY FELL FROM THE CEILING OF BLACK SHEEP.
Finally, Our Lady played our final set. Their is a video on the tube of it if you ever wanna watch it. It was real, I didn’t want the set to end, and I can still play each song note for note despite all of the music that has came and went through my head since that show. It wasn’t a show that described it’s self as “It’s over”, but “Goodbye”. Still such a jammer. I will always remember my time with Our Lady and want to say thank you to all that came to the show. – Big Mac Jack (Our Lady, Livin’ Thing)
1. Dumb Fest 4-Ever (specifically “The Barn” aftershow w/ The Bug, Crutch, Wolf Luv) (6-11-16)