The Champions of Chicago – The Lawrence Arms
Not much can stop a punk music fan from attending a show, and the weather in Chicago, IL., was no match.
On April 12, a cold and rainy Thursday, fans gathered on the North Side, at popular music venue, Metro, to welcome home The Lawrence Arms for the last stop of the first half of the bands’ two-part, “We Are The Champions Of The World” tour.
The night began with the punk, angst and coming-of-age sounds of Sincere Engineer. Deanna Belos, 25, from Orland Park, IL., the lead singer of Sincere Engineer, started the set with “Ghosts in the Graveyard”, off the bands’ debut album, “Rhombithian”.
“We, [the band], thought it would be cool for me to perform the only solo song off the album first and then bring out the rest of the band. It helped build the energy that continued the rest of the evening,” Belos said.
Belos has watched countless performances at the venue.
“When I was 14, I would go there really early with my mom, we would grab a spot and stay there for the entire show – just to watch The Lawrence Arms perform. Performing at my favorite venue, with one of my favorite bands and biggest inspirations, [The Lawrence Arms], was a dream come true,” Boles said.
Banner Pilot took the stage next. The set started off very melodic with the majority of the crowd singing along. Then, about halfway through, during “Division Street”, off their album “Heart Beats Pacific”, a switch flipped and the audience started moshing and bringing out the punk energy.
After Banner Pilot was finished and the stage was set for The Lawrence Arms, a familiar song came over the speakers – “We Are The Champions”, by Queen, and Chris McCaughan, Brendan Kelly, and Neil Hennessy walked on stage to an excited crowd. Wasting no time, Hennessy banged his drumsticks together and began the introduction for “The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City”, and the crowd exploded.
Over the years, The Lawrence Arms have come to expect certain occurrences during their sets, one of those being the “Hennessy” chant – which is an homage to their drummer, Neil Hennessy. During a break between songs, one person started chanting, “Hennessy! Hennessy! Hennessy!”, and the rest of the crowd joined in, as did the lighting director, who flashed the lights in time with the chant.
When the crowd was done, bassist and vocalist, Brendan Kelly, shared that during the first stop of the tour in Boston, MA., the crowd chanted, “Neil! Neil! Neil!”. Kelly expressed it was similar to putting ketchup on your hotdog, it just doesn’t work, the audience cheered in agreement.
Anyone who has attended a Lawrence Arms show before can tell you, the vibe often switches. While “Seventeener (17th and 37th)” played, the crowd continued moshing with elevated energy. Then, “Brickwall VIews” began and the shift occurred. No longer was the audience moshing and sending each other “up” to crowd surf. Instead, they were putting their arms around each other, and singing the lyrics with such raw emotion – the energy was elevated but in a more deep, emotional sense. This is what makes a Lawrence Arms show such a moving experience.
The raw, emotional energy continued through the rest of the set and into the encore of “100 Resolutions” and “Are You There Margaret? It’s Me, God.”. It is safe to say Chicago fans were ecstatic with this hometown show.
“We Are The Champions Of The World: The Best Of” is available for purchase here: https://www.fatwreck.com/record/detail/984