Local H: 23 May 2010 – Chicago

Local H returned home to their native Chicago Sunday 23 May, 2010 to a sold-out house at the Metro. Their presence was enthusiastically received by fans of all ages, many of whom proudly bared the band’s logo across their chests. The show was the last stop on the alternative rock duo’s “6 Angry Records Tour. “

For each stop on the tour, Local H performed one of their six studio albums in its entirety. The catch was each performance was randomly selected out of a battered cowboy hat by one fortunate audience member. The selected title was then played in full, followed by a second set of assorted delights off the band’s remaining five records.

To start the festivities right, Local H’s lead man Scott Lucas (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) introduced a surprise special guest to the stage, singer/songwriter “Michael McDonald.” Naturally the Michael McDonald who appeared was a friend of the band (I assume), decked out in cargo shorts, a plain white t-shirt, and aviator sunglasses. “McDonald” performed “his” signature song, “What a Fool Believes.”

The guest appearance was absolutely hilarious, for the performer mocked the baritone adult contemporary vocal styling’s of the actual McDonald in a karaoke fashion. The best part was he forgot the words halfway through the song, even though they were printed out and taped to the stage. In lieu of lost lyrics, McDonald filled the gaps by swaying, dancing and throwing in vocal improvisations. The bit got a good laugh, though, it seemed that the gag went over younger attendees’ heads.

Following suit, Local H took the stage briefing the audience on the performance to come. Powerhouse drummer Brian St. Clair adjusted his drum kit as Lucas reached out to fans positioned at the guard rail. He quizzed audience members on their favorite Local H albums, what they hoped to hear, etc. One of the surveyed, who could not have been older than 18, was a gal who failed to name a single Local H album title. After a moment of taunting, Lucas took pity on the clueless girl, outstretched his hat, and asked her to choose the evening’s album.

Nervous and shaky, the girl pulled out a crumpled bit of yellow paper, and announced the selection into the microphone. And the winner was 1998’s Pack Up the Cats. With that, Lucas picked up his guitar, St. Clair struck his kit, and the band took off with the opening track “All-Right (Oh, Yeah)”. Gazing crowd-ward from the photo pit the main floor resembled a sea of fists thrashing and punching the air every way. Heads were banging, shouts and screams of delight were projected as the band surged forward.

Local H performed Pack Up the Cats exactly how it sounds on disc. Songs were seamlessly threaded together with absolute vigor and energy. Everything was included minus random cat meows that appear on the recording. Traditionally, Lucas covers a majority of the instrumentation on the band’s recordings. Pulling everything off live was next to impossible, which lead the band to seek a little help from their friends.

About a third of the way through the album, members of the opening band Kinch joined on stage filling in on keyboards, bass and backing vocals. Reigning from Phoenix, Arizona, Kinch sealed the deal on “Fine and Good”, adding necessary keyboard embellishments and bass licks as Lucas roared into the mic and attacked his guitar with pure vigor. Kinch stuck around, panning in and out for the remainder of the record. Naturally, Lucas credited the guests, stating that many of the songs would not be possible live with out Kinch’s support.

Local H pounded and shrieked up a storm right up to their hit “All the Kids Are Right”. At that point fans sang along so loud that Lucas was able to take a breather from singing. The album came to an end with the laid back, moderately paced, melodic “Lucky Time.”

Following the album’s finale Lucas stated: “That was Pack Up the Cats, and now we play stuff off our other records…there’s a piano and I want to play a song off our first album that nobody likes.” With that, Lucas took the piano and crooned “Grrrlfriend” as fans rested their banging hands, and exercised their arms by waving lighters in the air.

The remainder of the show mixed up random songs, both popular and obscure, from the Local H catalog. For two people, the band caused quite the ruckus. One could feel every bass vibration and cymbal crash, starting from the ground, up through the feet, continuing through the heart, only to blast through the eardrums. The main floor was filled with sweat, the air hot and muggy, as fans pushed their bodies and Local H pride to the limits. Their pride reflected in the amount of mosh pits that broke out, pushing and flowing with threats of encompassing the bottom half of the venue. Adding to the convulsions on the floor were crowd surfers, riding the waves of their fellow fans’; I counted up to three bodies being passed overhead at once.

I exited the Metro that evening a sweaty mess, with lingering feelings of St. Clair’s percussive wrath and Lucas’ rip-roaring guitar skills. Boys, it was good to have you home!

RATING 9 / 10