Tuesday, July 26, the Conservatory was graced by the presence of Chicago’s Smoking Popes. The Popes are currently on a short break from their tour with Alkaline Trio and on their way back home to Chicago to meet up with the Trio again.
This show was absolutely outstanding and I can say without a doubt in my mind that this is the best concert I have ever been to.
You see, I have been listening to the Popes for a long time. A really long time. I was in Chicago in the summer of 1993 when their debut album Get Fired was released. I was browsing around in the Wax Trax Records store there in Chicago and came across the CD in the local bands bin. I have to admit that I bought it primarily because I thought the name was cool but ever since my first listen of that CD I have been hooked.
This was the first time since I started listening to the Popes that I have been able to see them in concert and I am really glad that I was able to get off work to go check this show out because I was certainly not disappointed (aside from the low turn out that is).
Local band They Stay Dead opened up the night for us, playing a pretty healthy opening set of great songs that I’m sure we will all look forward to seeing on an upcoming intended full length album that they will recording soon. In fact, a little bird told me that they might be recording this album up in Tulsa with Stephen Egerton at his studio. That would be really awesome.
The next opening band was another local band called Fellowship Students. I’m not really going to say much about them. They are a little bit too experimental for my tastes. The crowd was into them though so I’ll give them that.
Then, the Popes finally took the stage. They were amazing. They were energetic and the song selection of their set list was just about perfect. I was told by another little bird that this set list is different from the set they play on the tour with the Trio because they were able to play a little bit longer here than on the tour.
They opened up with the 1st 2 songs from Destination Failure and then blasted into the 1st track from the new one This Is Only a Test. The show was a pretty good mixture of old and new songs and the crowd was into each and every one of the tunes they played. One of the highlights of the set was when the everyone from the band except Josh left the stage and Josh led the crowd in a low-key sing-a-long of the song “Pretty Pathetic” which is obviously a fan favorite (I have to admit that it is one of my favorites as well).
I wish there would have been more people at this show simply for the fact that I really wish more people could have experienced it for themselves. I can think of one person in particular that I really wish had been there. They know who they are, I don’t have to mention their name.
The music aside, the guys in the band are really some of the nicest guys you will ever meet. I got a chance to talk to them a little bit before the show at the record store next door and they are all really cool. I also got a chance to talk to them more in depth after the show. They were around for quite a while after the show to hang around and talk to people.
Quite frankly, all around, this show was a great experience for everyone that was there.
Here is a list of the songs that they played.
Star Struck One (from 1997’s Destination Failure)**
No More Smiles (from 1997’s Destination Failure)**
Wish We Were (from 2011s This Is Only A Test)**
Rubella (from 1994s Born to Quit)**
Can’t Find It (from 1997’s Destination Failure)
Paul (from 1997’s Destination Failure)
How Dangerous (from 2011s This is Only A Test)
Gotta Know Right Now (from 1994s Born to Quit)**
Let’s Hear It For Love (from 1993’s Born to Quit, also re-released on 1997s Destination Failure)
Writing a Letter (from the 1993 EP 2, also released on the 2010 compilation album It’s Been a Long Day)
Double Fisted Love (from 1993s Get Fired)
Punk Band (from 2011s This is Only A Test)**
Megan (from 1997’s Destination Failure)
First Time (from 2006s Stay Down)
Need You Around (from 1994s Born to Quit)**
Pretty Pathetic (from 1997’s Destination Failure)**
Brand New Hairstyle (from the 1991 EP Inoculator)**
I Know You Love Me (from 1997’s Destination Failure)