ROCKTOBERFEST 2014:Slaughter and the Dogs Brings Its UK Sound To Reggie’s Rock Club

CHICAGO, IL – I grab a cab on Michigan avenue and head south to some place called Reggie’s Rock Club. I heard good things about it but I never been there. It’s around 10 pm and I have no clue where this place is. The cab driver assures me he’s been there before as he drives to the South Side of Chicago. I don’t know how south we are but I am concerned. A lot of bad stuff happens down there but it’s a Sunday night so I give myself a pretty good shot that I’ll turn out okay. We get to the place and I trust the guy so I pay him and hop out of the cab and I find out he took me to the wrong freaking place. I walked into a Hip Hop club but the girls who run the joint are nice and tell me that it is actually one block over.

The neighborhood is a little rough looking but I try not to let it bother me.  I see a bunch of rough looking punks in the doorway and I know I am in good company. I am not looking too scrappy tonight but if you line us all up you can tell I belong with them. I reach in my pocket to pull out my ticket and hand it to the head door guy and he is waiting for it. But before I can complete the action of handing over my ticket the front door blows open and I see this hippie guy throwing his arms and legs around being pushed out by a bouncer. The unruly guest is shoved and is airborne and lands on the sidewalk and I hear, “GOODNIGHT !!”. That’s the Chicago I remember. I try not to let it bother me but in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “I gotta walk in there?”.

I hand off my ticket and I am back in the rock and roll fast lane once again. I’ve gotta say that it’s a rush. Tonight we are going to be witnessing one of the first UK punk bands from 1976 hit the stage. This is Manchester’s own, Slaughter and the Dogs. I collected a lot of their early work on vinyl and have been listening to them for years. They don’t really tour very often if at all. If they do tour I have never really heard about it so I am glad I made the trek all the way from Detroit just to see them play.

The name Slaughter and the Dogs barely raises more than a few eyebrows to most people. They existed in a very tiny but influential window of pop music. Slaughter was part of the original UK punk movement and came from the scene that brought us Joy Division, John C Clarke, The Buzzcocks, Magazine and The Fall. During those wild and crazy days they even opened for the Sex Pistols.

I discovered them on a little known vinyl pressing called, “Live at the Roxy WC2” that I picked up at Wazoo Records in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That was a curious album that captured the hot acts at that time including Slaughter and the Dogs, Eater, Buzzcocks, Wire, and others. It was so obscure that I didn’t even think anyone else had ever heard of it. Lead singer Wayne Barrett made a reference to it during the performance.

The crowd danced spasmodically to, “Boston Babies”, “Where Have All The Boot Boy Gone?”, and “Bitch”. People continued to fight with the bouncers and even with one another. I stood off to the side not looking to get bounced around or bounced out. It was one of those moments where I was just glad to be in the same room. This band could really work the crowd and they were incredibly ferocious. They put on a much better show than I expected. Wayne Barrett came out on stage wearing sunglasses and a pork pie hat like he was Jake Blues, (John Belushi) from the Blues Brothers. He jumped around fast on stage and sang like an off duty police captain. Above his head were sound guys or light techs or something in steel metal cages over the stage. It kind of looked like a prison and reminded me of the final scene in the, “Blues Brothers” movie when the cast rocked out to Jailhouse Rock. I was trying to put two and two together while drinking an IPA Ska beer called, Skamodo. That’s when it suddenly came to me that the lead singer here could be making fun of us Chicago guys or maybe he was just getting into the spirit of the town – who knows? I like to think it was the later because at the end there was a drunken sing-a-long to, “Cranked Up Really High”.

The club is fairly new. Reggie’s Rock Club has been around since 2007. I was walking around the place and noticed metal staircases leading up to the loft where I found recliners and couches. You could catch the entire show from up there and see everything. That’s when it struck me that this place used to be a garage or some kind of auto business. When I later checked into it I found out this place used to be an auto bumper repair shop.

To the right of me I could see this giant green tapestry with Wesley Willis’s face on it. He is the patron saint of insanity in Chicago and he used to live down the street from me pushing a shopping cart screaming at the top of his lungs. He’s passed on now. To the left of me I could make out a giant Bob Marley tapestry and he balanced out Wesley’s banner with common sense of humanity. Ying and yang.

There is a Tshirt shop too downstairs which was closed when I was there but it looked pretty impressive. There was even one shirt that read, “I got thrown out of Reggie’s” which I found pretty fitting.

One last note Slaughter and the Dogs even did an homage to the Velvet Underground during the show. Everyone is doing that now. I am running into a lot of bands who are doing live Velvet Underground songs during their sets and I’m not complaining because I find them very compelling.

Okay, there is no official set list on the web so I am going to post one from a previous show. If you see something out of line here let me know so I can fix it. This is what the show was like from the best I can recall.

  1. I Got Your Number 
  2. Who Are the Mystery Girls? (New York Dolls cover)
  3. The Bitch 
  4. You're a Bore 
  5. Hell in New York 
  6. We Don't Care 
  7. Victims of the Vampire 
  8. Boston Babies 
  9. Dame to Blame 
  10. I'm Waiting for the Man (Lou Reed cover)
  11. I'm Mad 
  12. Situations 
  13. Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run) (Kasenetz-Katz Super Circus cover)
  14. Where Have All the Boot Boys Gone 

15.   Encore:

  1. White Light/White Heat (Lou Reed cover)
  2. Cranked Up Really High 


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“A VISUAL ASSAULT: REM Dissected Scene By Scene

The bottom video was shot in 1989 and is the closest thing I could find to what the original show opener was like in 1987. This was a departure for REM as much as it was for the audience. Just when you thought you knew the band they changed on you in a new and exciting way. It would take some time to recognize them once again. In the case of, “Document” the album had to grow on me. I noticed this sort of thing happening with the Smiths too.

There was one sequence in the video, not shown in this edition, when the words – “Want” and “Need” come on screen. The words flipped interchangeably and morphed into a strobe that said, “Need Weed” and I remember the crowd going a bit wild over that. This was Ann Arbor after all. There is some talk about the set list being accurate. I do not believe, “Orange Crush” or “Pop Song 89” was performed in 1987. Those songs were released after REM went to Warner Brothers. “Document” was the last album created under the I.R.S. Records label.

There is another version of, “The One I Love” done on the live tour. Stipe starts out with a slow intro and for a minute I thought the whole song would be done slow. It then kicks into the tempo we all know. The stage was also bathed in an eerie red light. How this song got perceived as a love song I’ll never know. It was about a sick love obsession.

Over the years I hear the young kids go, “Oh who cares about that stuff, REM was long before my time.” Trust me, you wish you were there. This show was nothing but historic.

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