“All I Ask is You Play Something Good.”
Lucky Boys Confusion’s Throwing The Game is a staple to the Chicago punk scene. Thirteen years after its release, and after several years of minimal activity from the band, it is still wildly beloved and worshiped, a fact proven by the animalistic sold out show at the downtown House of Blues to hear it played start to finish.
“I was standing right here last year when they played Commitment all the way through,” said one random guy I met in the crowd of eager drunks. He throws back a wide gulp of beer before smiling widely, saying simply, “This one of the best albums ever written. They’re playing it front to back acoustically in August. I bought my tickets for that show the day they went on sale”.
I wrote once before about how literally everyone I’ve met in Chicago knows about Lucky Boys Confusion, and though their entire discography is a magnificent lesson in stylized punk, Throwing The Game is the album that most people refer to when talking about the band. It’s a party album with songs about drinking, getting high, the perils of relationships and outrunning the cops. These themes are the backbone of what Lucky Boys Confusion embodies: making a mess of trying to find yourself and enjoying the hell out of every second of it.
Lucky Boys Confusion is set to start at 11:30 p.m. and run until 1 a.m., but the crowd has rushed the pit in the House of Blues well before that and show no signs of getting tired. While the normal teen rockers are crushed in the crowd, it’s filled more with men and women in their upper twenties and early thirties; literally the people who have supported the band their entire career. And they’re lit.
Alcohol of every variation in hand, they’re joined as one excited entity, talking to each other about how many times they’ve seen the band over the years. The same conversation is literally spilling across the floor until the chant of, “LBC! LBC!” fills the air.
By the end of the first song, the crowd is completely drenched in sweat and spilled beer; every single word being sung back to the stage. This sets the stage for the entire night: nonstop jumping, dancing and singing. While I’ve heard these songs played many times by the band, there was an extra energy in the air. Everyone knows that Throwing the Game is the main reason most everyone fell loyally in love with the band and LBC are vividly aware of how important the record is to their fans.
Tiny details are a part of the set to help this feel like an authentic experience of Throwing the Game, such as the full-blown salsa-jazz breakdown in “Not About Debra”, complete with saxophone solo and maracas while the pit shifted from jumping and moshing to dancing, or at least as much as was possible in the cramped conditions of the floor. “40/80”, a song about hiding weed from the cops, was complimented by a fake cop on stage, saying the lines that pop up between verses in the song; “I can smell it, but I sure can’t find it”.
As the lyrics shift from crooning punk to brash, lightning quick rap, the entire crowd knows each line and provides the backup gang vocals while singer Stubhy Pandav plows ahead. These aren’t just songs, they’re the soundtrack to a generation of young adults still finding their own way in the world. Lyrics like those from “Saturday Night” carry an extra weight as the pit opens up, “This room is like a bottle, it’s never full enough”.
Vocalist Stubhy Pandav paced the stage like an expert, owning every inch. Drummer Ryan Fergus blasted away, swaying the tempo of grueling punk beats. Guitarists Adam Krier and Jason Schultejann, also of their incredible side/ main project AM Taxi, crunched out their power chords, easily shifting from punk to ska. As is Adam’s signature style, even in the sweltering body heat and the seeping sweat, he incredibly played the entire show in a leather jacket.
The final twenty minutes of the concert though, was a plethora of crowd favorites to close out the night, with Stubhy briefly walking to the side of the stage, only to return with a bottle of Jack Daniels that he chugged. One of the bands’ oldest songs, the appropriately titled “LBC”, made a surprise appearance as one of the hidden gems to celebrate the occasion. Although not one of their most well-known songs, a majority of the crowd knows each word enough to be heard singing over the sound of the music.
“Hey Driver” sent the entire venue into a last minute fury of fist pumps and falling sweat, only to act as the precursor to the finale of their signature cover of Dramarama’s “Anything, Anything”, a guitar heavy song that has Stubhy showing his full vocal range.
Throwing the Game could possibly be one of the biggest records that no one has heard, save for the Chicagoland area. It’s such a large part of people’s lives that it brought out the older crowd that most bands would kill to have, partying and jumping until early in the morning without losing a drop of energy. What could have been just another sold out show for a band that comes around every few months turned into a celebration for the songs that have ingrained themselves into the city itself.
by Kyle Schultz