The 69 Eyes @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

THE 69 EYES / WEDNESDAY 13 / SUMO CYCO

Date: 29th January, 2020
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$20/€18 (in advance) - $25/€23 (day of)
Promoter: n/a


The concert season for METAL KAOZ started with the Helsinki Vampires paying a visit in Chicago after 12 years. The last time THE 69 EYES were in the vicinity of Chicago was last April at The Forge in Joliet. So, with a brand new album, “West End”, already out, it was time to hit the Reggies’ stage with their unique Goth Rock. WEDNESDAY 13 made the deal sweeter, although I was wondering how his show with all the gimmicks would fit the rather small stage, but at the same time I was curious to see the dynamics his most energetic band would bring in such an intimate setting.

Even though the show was in the middle of the week, Reggies’ felt close to being sold-out and therefore it took some effort to find a good photo-taking spot as SUMO CYCO were ready to hit the stage. I had zero knowledge of their musical doings and had not done my homework before the show, so my judgement was clean as a baby’s butt. However, just before their set, I noticed that SUMO CYCO had some fans among the audience and this means that they must be doing something right... One thing was a huge plus in SUMO CYCO’s bio; the band comes from Canada, and in case you have missed the memo, Canada and Metal do extremely well together. Still, the moment SUMO CYCO opened their set with “Love You Wrong” and Skye started singing, I was not sure what I was getting... Sure, there were Metal elements but the groovy and the somewhat spoken lyrics did not appeal to me. However, I was not going to give up on them so easily, especially after feeling their onstage energy right from the start, and how much they were willing to work the audience to get it going. Guitarist Matt Drake was the second driving force and I think he managed to connect with the audience right away. “Thank you guys, we are SUMO CYCO from Toronto” said Skye before letting “Fighter” making things appropriately heavy for me. Early in the set I noticed the SYSTEM OF A DOWN influences showing through the groovy guitars, the fast breaks and the uncommon vocals. Yeah, Skye has her own style of singing mixing a lot of styles in her energy-spiked singing; there is melody, borderline rapping and some growling intertwined with some girly vocalisms. Add to this, her powerful onstage performance and you have a solid explanation why the band gained everyone’s undivided attention. Yeah, the band’s in-your-face attitude was the perfect match to fast-paced and groovy tunes, making me to change my mind despite the rather “too modern style for my old ears” music. Damn, the guitar riff and pounding rhythm section of “Sleep Tight” was the perfect excuse to enter the headbanging mood with a bit of dancing... I think the unconventional song structures draw a thread all the way to SYSTEM OF A DOWN reminding me of how music changed the moment the Serj Tankian-fronted band hit the scene with all riffs and lyrics blazing. It was no surprise that SUMO CYCO followed this one with the killer cover on “B.Y.O.B” shining a light on Skye’s multi-character singing without holding back her still going strong onstage presence. I was also surprised by the loud singing-along during this one that made things even better. Oh my, I love when band surprises me with music that on paper is outside my cup of tea.

“Seeing people all the way to the bar, I want to try something” said Skye and soon enough explained that she wanted to take a shot at the bar... That’s quite normal, right? Only if this did not involve her crowd-surfing all the way to the back while singing the catchy “Free To Yourself”. That’s exactly what she did, and did hit that shot before making her way back to the stage through the audience that was following her lead energy-wise. “Run With The Giants” turned to be a song that “normally” I would sign away and hit the ‘skip’ button without thinking much. In this instance, the chorus and the riff-driven groove got me hooked to the point that I found myself singing-along (even for days after the show...). I guess it is official; bands from Canada are awesome, no matter their Metal style. One could say that WEDNESDAY 13 had their work cut out for them after being challenged to match CYCO SUMO’s energy and then top it off… No wonder why Napalm Records added these crazy Canadians into the label’s roster. I am sure we will be hearing more from them soon.

SUMO CYCO setlist:

01. “Love You Wrong”
02. “Fighter”
03. “Sleep Tight”
04. “B.Y.O.B.”
05. “Undefeated”
06. “Free To Yourself”
07. “Run With The Giants”
08. “Move Mountains”

SUMO CYCO

Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sumo Cyco @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Ok, I exaggerated a bit when I wondered whether WEDNESDAY 13 would be able to push the energy levels higher than CYCO SUMO had done, simply because I have seen Wednesday 13 and his band before and know what this unique performer brings on the table. I believe that Wednesday 13 is among the last of a dying breed. I am talking about of those frontmen who can support and deliver a show only via their performance without relying on special effects and countless outfit changes. Sure, he has his arsenal of gimmicks but only to enhance what he can do with his moves, roleplaying and unique facial expressions that go hand in hand with the lyrics of every song. Add to that the clever use of black light fluorescent body paint and you’ll get how the atmosphere inside the venue transformed into a Horror anthology that started unfolding with “Necrophaze”. The Industrial-esque groove of this song was the best way to raise the adrenaline a notch above the level during the CYCO SUMO set. With a full-face mask and “sick” monochromatic lights, Wednesday 13 showed up with the Zodiac Killer’s sign drawn on the back of his vest. Awesome, right? You bet it was and in a bizarre way the smaller set-up made the performance even more powerful, especially when the line separating the audience from the band was becoming blurry with the gifted performer interacting with everyone in the front rows. “Chicago, let me hear you scream”, said Wednesday 13 making absolutely sense with the next on the set being “Scream Baby Scream”. Oh boy, the audience was into the show and matched the onstage energy as the singer had an equally pumped up band to support him. “Serpent Society” has become my favorite song in concert with the combination of the red lighting and Wednesday 13’s devil outfit and the matching fork. This time around, the song was 666 times better with the added fog effects and the absence of photo pit that made it look as if the devil was commanding his demons or maybe his reptilians (other way works). The part when Wednesday 13 asks to “raise your horns” before the “they rule you” lyric line is bone chilling; in other words, awesome! The band was in a perfect shape and with the gathered momentum WEDNESDAY 13 kept hammering the audience that was even more into the show despite the fake worms the singer was throwing and despite the drops of fluorescent green paint that made it all the way to my camera’s lens...

The catchy and a bit mid-tempo “Decompose” went down great and was the proper reminder for me to check the latest WEDNESDAY 13 record. The Horror-movie intro marked the time for the groovy “What The Night Brings” and a goblin-like scythe (I have no other words to describe this) before wrapping things up with my favorite ROB ZOMBIE-esque “Keep Watching The Skies” (Metal and aliens do extremely well together). After having seen WEDNESDAY 13 quite a few times on a supporting slot, I believe it is about time to see a headlining set. If this band can do all this as a support act, then I cannot imagine how a full show will be like. Bring it on!

WEDNESDAY 13 setlist:

01. “Necrophaze”
02. “Zodiac”
03. “I Want You… Dead”
04. “Scream Baby Scream”
05. “Serpent Society”
06. “Prey For Me”
07. “Decompose”
08. “What The Night Brings”
09. “Keep Watching The Skies”

WEDNESDAY 13

Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Wednesday 13 @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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We were off to a great start with two great supporting bands and especially WEDNESDAY 13 who set the bar high. Yeah, this could have been a tough struggle for the headliners, but not for THE 69 EYES. The Finn band does not need effects or any bells and whistles to get the crowd going. We are talking about the definition of an “old-school” band that puts 100% on every show. Sure, there will be mistakes and mishaps but at the same time there will be sweat and a pedal to the Metal performance. Right on time, the lights went out and the “Phantom Of The Opera” themed song enhanced the dramatics as the five-piece band in full leather attire entered the stage. “Come on, Chicago, let me see those horns” said Jyrki kicking off the set with my new album favorite “Two Horns Up”. How would this have been if we had Dani onstage too doing his part? In fact, DEVILMENT would have been a fantastic choice to support THE 69 EYES. Anyhoo, the Punk basslines, the pounding drums and Jyrki’s most characteristic performance were more than enough to push the energy level into the red zone, right from the start. The raising of his jacket collar (in an Elvis style), the Rock ‘n Roll dancing moves, the aviator sunglasses and the skeleton printed outfit were just a few things to notice and top off the sweaty and in-your-face performance. Those “little” things get you in the right mood for the slower (compared to the setlist opener) “Never Say Die” and the bass-driven “Black Orchid”. Of course I should not forget to mention the strong THE SISTERS OF MERCY undertones and Jyrki’s Danzig-isms (sometimes he holds the mic in Glenn’s tilted way, if you know what I mean) that are the icing on this delicious cake.

Timo-Timo was the most active member as far as connecting with the audience goes although Jyrki did not stand far behind. A drum riser would have been appropriate because we kind of missed all the action Jussi 69 adds with his drumming, but you can never have everything, right? “Perfect Skin” saw the jumping up and down action Jyrki asked for, before slowing things down a bit with the dipped in Gothic “Betty Blue”. It is amazing how this type of music gets super-charged from the energy surge on and off stage. On paper, the Gothic aspect on THE 69 EYES music seems more appealing when one has the blues but in concert it is an entirely different story. “Borderline” can make your eyes water on one of those lonely nights but can get you moving and singing-along when performed live, and the latter happened that Wednesday night at Reggies’. Really, this was one of the night’s highlights because of this. And to pair this with the new “Hell Has No Mercy” was awesome, and indeed we let Jyrki figuratively took us down to hell with the killer guitar chords and riff being the perfect soundtrack.

Matching the new with the old songs without letting you tell the difference is something to give credit for to these fine gentlemen. You see, being active for three decades can be an amazing feat only if you can still deliver the goods inside and outside the studio. I am kind of fed up of “veteran” bands that play the same songs in every touring cycle, having retired from creating new music. To me, this means that you have turned into a mere performer of your own music, so maybe it is time to take your full retirement benefits...

“This is an old one” said Jyrki before engaging this deep singing for “The Chair” highlighting THE SISTERS OF MERCY undertones that can be found scattered in almost every THE 69 EYES song. Speaking of old, and in particular the oldest, the Finnish band treated us with “Wasting The Dawn” and if my memory serves me right, it was around this time on the set when Bazie put on a cowboy’s hat (black, of course). The last song from “West End” was the groovy “27 & Done”, but as I have already mentioned, one could not tell the difference between the band’s old and new material. Keeping the lyrical theme of this song in mind made “Brandon Lee” even more emotional and kind of sad, especially when hearing Jyrki’s laugh (after quoting Eric Draven by whispering “it can't rain all the time”), making the hair at the back of my neck stand up. This was a powerful way to end the regular set and give a chance to the audience to regroup and ask for more.

“What’s up, Chicago? You wanna hear some more Goth ‘n Roll?” asked Jyrki and after getting a loud cheer, he agreed to give us some with “Framed In Blood” being the best way to get us started again. “This is your last chance to dance”, the band’s frontman said, hinting to “Dance D’Amour” and I think I saw quite a few doing so. There cannot be a THE 69 EYES set without a nod to most probably the only Vampire movie that did have an impact during my childhood. Oh yes, I am talking about the amazing “The Lost Boys” that I am sure now it will look cheesy to some who love the CGI infested movie-making. Anyways, “Lost Boys” dropped the curtain in the best (and loudest) way with Jyrki and Timo-Timo doing for the last time (for the night) their circular dance in perfect synchronicity. Everyone was super happy to have celebrated THE 69 EYES’ introduction to a new decade, keeping the Goth Rock standards always on the top. Till next time!

THE 69 EYES setlist:

01. “Two Horns Up”
02. “Never Say Die”
03. “Black Orchid”
04. “Perfect Skin”
05. “Betty Blue”
06. “Borderline”
07. “Hell Has No Mercy”
08. “Crashing High”
09. “The Chair”
10. “Cheyenna”
11. “Wasting The Dawn”
12. “27 & Done”
13. “Feel Berlin”
14. “Brandon Lee”
15. “Framed In Blood”
16. “Dance D'Amour”
17. “Lost Boys”

THE 69 EYES

The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) The 69 Eyes @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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