GOGGS - The Empty Bottle, Chicago - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

GOGGS - The Empty Bottle, Chicago

by Zach Johnson Rating:7 Release Date:2013-05-13

The Empty Bottle is a delightfully dingy/divey Chicago staple with a storied history of hosting down and dirty underground rock shows for the past couple of decades.  Some big bands have performed there over the years, like The White Stripes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs for example (before their peak popularity of course), but The Empty Bottle specializes in providing lesser known, up and coming acts with a platform to perform their music in a genuinely raw and unpretentious setting.

This fact makes it the perfect venue for a band like GØGGS who just dropped their debut album earlier this month.  And although the band features a group of indie-punk allstars (not the least of which includes Ty Segall), they are still a generally new entity to most people's ears.  That lack of familiarity with the band itself most likely contributed to what was a somewhat placid response that night (at least in terms of crowd involvement/movement) but it certainly didn't stop The Empty Bottle from completely selling out a few days before the show, which is pretty common with most Ty Segall-related acts.

But before GØGGS hit the stage, the sold out crowd was treated to two solid opening bands. Choke Chains kicked things off with a punchy, up-tempo set of pretty satisfying punk-rock tunes. The band was true to the sound of their debut album (released earlier this year) which features a distinctive grindy groove on most tracks. This hard-driving sound translated well in a live setting, as Choke Chains provided a bit more spark than most folks might have expected from an opening band.  A more than serviceable performance on their part.

Choke Chains: B-

Up next were local noise-rock heroes Running, a band that has a fairly solid following in Chicago, but not sure how well known they are beyond that.  They brought a more brooding and menacing energy to the stage, with their extended droning jams that rely mostly on grating, harsh distortion to get their point across. It's an acquired taste to be sure, but the band has just enough rhythm and subtle variety in their sound to keep your attention for the entire set.  Their menacing wall of sound is impressive and imposing in a live setting, which amounted to a pretty engaging performance overall

Running: B-

Soon after Running's set, Ty Segall, Charles Mootheart, and company began setting up the stage in preparation for their performance.  It was kind of refreshing to see someone like Ty Segall taking a DIY approach by essentially executing the duties of a roadie before he performed, but it's really not surprising considering GØGGS are only playing a handful of shows on this tour.  It also helps contribute to Segall's seemingly accessible, anti-rockstar image, so cheers to that I suppose.

Anyway, after a couple of minutes of screeching guitar distortion (which essentially acted as GØGGS's entrance "music"), one by one the band returned to the stage, with Segall handling guitar duties and Mootheart setting up shop behind the kit.  Chris Shaw strolled onto stage with a menacing glare in his eyes as the band proceeded to launch full steam into "Falling In".  I expected full chaos to ensue at that point, but the crowd seemed content to soak it all in for the first few songs.  Plenty of head-banging to go around, but it certainly was not the proverbial mobscene I had envisioned.  This was in spite of the fact that GØGGS were absolutely bringing it in on stage, with Segall in particular wailing away like a madman.  He and Mootheart would actually trade off on drum and guitar duties every few songs, but regardless of what instrument they were playing, their enthusiasm was palpable.  This, along with Shaw's intensity, eventually instigated some modest moshing in the crowd towards the end of the set, but it was too little too late for yours truly.  As mentioned prior, I was a little disappointed by the lack of activity in the crowd for a band like GØGGS, but I chalk that up to a combination of unfamiliarity and a probable case of the Tuesday night doldrums for most people in attendance.  That said, the crowd was at least vocally enthusiastic between songs, responding to each tune with full-throated cheering and widespread applause.

Overall, GØGGS's set was satisfying, although it came and went rather quickly. But considering they're a new band with only 10 (fairy economical) songs on their album, what are you gonna do? They did come out for an encore in which Shaw performed a quick Ex-Cult song, so that was a nice bit of abrasive icing on the cake. Overall, while not quite as unhinged as I expected, it was a more than satisfying night of great punk rock at The Empty Bottle.

GØGGS: B+

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