Update, January 10: The Save the Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival has been postponed. The new dates are Friday, April 29, through Sunday, May 1.
In April 2020, just weeks after COVID-19 shut down the live-music industry, four Chicago venue operators—Louie Mendicino of Cobra Lounge, Herb Rosen of Liar’s Club, Robby Glick of Reggies, and Dave Hornyak of Live Wire Lounge—banded together and pledged to host a massive festival dedicated to local rock, punk, and metal. They set their eye on a date in December 2020, recruited Shane Merrill of Empire Productions to help pull together the best possible lineup of bands, and held weekly conference calls throughout the year to strategize and discuss the latest news on the virus. Most of that news hasn’t been good, of course, and the team pushed the original festival dates back more than a year—which makes it all the more exciting to see their vision finally come to fruition. And boy howdy, have they packed this bill with excellent bands that showcase the depth and range of the Chicago scene. While the clubs are located fairly far away from one another, Reggies will operate its famous bus service so that fans can catch as many sets as possible. The Save the Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival runs for three nights at four clubs (five if you include both halves of Reggies), and it includes satirical grindcore from Hewhocorrupts, monster thrash from Bloodletter, super sludge from Pale Horseman, cosmic-horror doom from Plague of Carcosa, trippy hard rock from We Killed the Lion, atmospheric postmetal from Without Waves, jazz metal from Yakuza, and much more. While of course far from exhaustive, this lineup is a great snapshot of the past two decades of Chicago heavy music. Even delayed till 2022, this fest is a major leap of faith—at the time of this writing, I too am very worried about what I’m calling the Necro Omicron. Like everything else these days, this event could be changed, postponed, or canceled with little or no notice. But if all goes well, you won’t have a better opportunity to catch such a rich variety of local hard-and-heavy in such a concentrated dose anytime soon—or such a potent blast of riffing hope.
Save the Rock ’n’ Roll Festival Fri 4/29 (rescheduled from Fri 1/14) Bloodletter, Whut? Vicious Attack, the Decayed, 7 PM at Live Wire Lounge, 3394 N. Milwaukee. No Dead Heroes, Fastplants, Satanic Panic, 7 PM at Reggies Music Joint, 2105 S. State. The Crombies, the Operators, Evil Empire, Aweful, 9 PM at Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland. Hewhocorrupts, Nequient, Something Is Waiting, Gamma Goat, 9 PM at Liar’s Club, 1665 W. Fullerton. All shows $15, three-day pass $135, 21+
Save the Rock ’n’ Roll Festival Sat 4/30 (rescheduled from Sat 1/15) Black Road, High Priest, Wizzo, Pale Horseman, Tombstone Eyes, 7 PM at Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland. The Bollweevils, the Creepers, the Last Great Riot, the Hallow, 7 PM at Reggies Music Joint, 2105 S. State. Inhuman Condition, Micawber, Crusadist, Inner Decay, 9 PM at Live Wire Lounge, 3394 N. Milwaukee. Flatfoot 56, Squared Off, Splatter Pattern, the Rip Ups, 9 PM at Liar’s Club, 1665 W. Fullerton. $15, three-day pass $135, 21+
Save the Rock ’n’ Roll Festival Sun 5/1 (rescheduled from Sun 1/16) Yakuza, Without Waves, These Beasts, Plague of Carcosa, 9 PM at Reggies Rock Club, 2105 S. State. Molder, Nucleus, Wraith, Cryptum, 7 PM at Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland. From Beyond These Walls, Numerical Control Society, Hypervolume, Pray for Death, 9 PM at Reggies Music Joint, 2105 S. State. We Killed the Lion, Unto the Earth, Damn the Buzzards, 9 PM at Live Wire Lounge, 3394 N. Milwaukee. The Rumours, Heavy Seas, Dummy, others TBA, 9 PM at Liar’s Club, 1665 W. Fullerton. $15, three-day pass $135, 21+