[Words & Photos by Brianna Kelly]
If I ever doubted that a venue is almost as essential to a concert as the band that’s playing, I was reassured a few Fridays ago when I saw one of my favorite bands from my native Minneapolis at the Cubby Bear. It’s no secret that Wrigleyville is crawling with douchebag bros, and this venue, which is located right across the street from the famous baseball field, is no exception to this sad truth. I usually tend to avoid Wrigleyville like the plague during the summer months. Between the drunken Cubs fans and the people who flock there just to barhop at one of its many expensive and overcrowded bars, I am usually enraged after spending only a few minutes in the area. But, I decided to look past that and give the Cubby Bear a whirl so I could get down on some Roster McCabe.
Though the venue wasn’t packed full of drunk assholes, there were enough to at least slightly change the vibe. It wasn’t the usual crowd that turns out for a Roster McCabe show, and the fact it was at the Cubby Bear this time around is probably why. It seemed that there were less people in general, especially those from their true fan base. There were multitudes of girls who were struggling to walk in their heels, let alone dance in them. A large group of people wearing the same t-shirt advertising someone’s 23rd birthday also waltzed in towards the end of the show and caused quite a commotion. The only two people I met who seemed to know what was up came all the way from Wisconsin to see Roster.
I arrived at the Cubby Bear just in time to see the second opening act take the stage. Their name, whysowhite, was fairly off-putting to me for some reason, and after their first couple songs I was completely unsure what to think of them. They rotated between three MCs and often times it didn’t seem that all the people on stage were serving a true musical purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I love cowbell, but come on dude, that’s not a legitimate instrument to be played without an entire percussion set to accompany it. Their set picked up when the lead singer, a guy with a faux-hawk and hips with a mind of their own, brandished the microphone. They played multiple covers, which were more of a hit with the crowd than their original tunes, and they even cleverly played the “All That” theme song. It was an opening set, not much more.
Finally Roster McCabe took the stage, opening with “Stargazer.” Its upbeat melody was a great intro to their sound for the new listeners in the audience. It was followed by one of my favorites of theirs: “The Traveler.” They put on their usual high-energy show that commanded everyone in attendance to dance. Roster also played a lot of their newer material to keep things fresh. And to top it all off, they covered “Kashmir,” which paired beautifully with lead singer Alex Steele’s voice. Everyone in the joint was raging to the classic Led Zep tune.
Crowd and venue aside, I still had a great time at the show because of the music. But I wish Roster had played in a venue that’s more their style; Martyr’s or Abbey Pub are much better atmospheres to see them, not to mention their drinks are more fairly priced — charging six dollars for a tallboy of Bud Light should be illegal. It seemed that the location of the show drove many people away from attending it. In light of this, my personal advice to Roster McCabe would be to stick to venues that exude vibes that are more conducive to their music. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that the guys are starting to book bigger venues, so perhaps the Double Door would be a better choice the next time they come to town.