For the past decade Chicago’s Tossers have followed in the weaving footsteps of Celt-rock pioneers the Pogues and the ur-oi outfit Cocksparrer–an excellent path for any quality band that wants to get ignored. The simple message of street punk–“I’m poor and I’m pissed and I’m political, so watch it!”–is pretty much a turn-off without perfect songwriting or an unstoppable singer to put it across. On the Tossers’ Purgatory (their second full-length on Thick) they don’t quite attain the former, but they’ve got the latter in Tony Duggins, who also plays a mean mandolin. And though the Celt-oi scrum has the Dropkick Murphys for a longtime favorite, those Boston boys can barely wind their Gaelic-bar-band arses up to reel speed, while this south-side seven-piece (banjo and tin whistle included) tears off chanteys and airs in breakneck arrangements that’re tighter than the Virgin. The Tossers’ real rival, of course, is the legend of the Pogues: it’s hard enough to seem fresh when your music’s based on ancient folk melodies, but Irish drunk rock is so permanently associated with Shane MacGowan and company that these guys are stuck fighting the prejudices of casual music fans who can tolerate only one band per genre. Yeah, the Pogues were awesome and shit, but as hard as Duggins is trying to sound like MacGowan (brogue and all) I’d rather listen to the energetic pupil than the old master. And on a dancin’ night like New Year’s Eve I’d take the Tossers over the Pogues in a second–they’re cleaner, tighter, and faster, and the well-placed rock ‘n’ roll hooks come as pleasant surprises. Deal’s Gone Bad and the Methadones open; the bill also promises “special guests” and a DJ. Wednesday, December 31, 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton; 773-975-0505.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.