Backtrack played their last show in Chicago at Beat Kitchen.
Date: Thursday, June 20, 2019
Place: Beat Kitchen (2100 West Belmont; Chicago, Illinois 60618)
Ticket cost: $18.95 after fees ($15)
Backtrack going on their final tour ever came out of nowhere. I only randomly found out about it a few days before the show so I’m glad I didn’t miss it. The band made the announcement on May 15. Backtrack is from Long Island, New York and formed in 2008. They put out their last album in November 2017 called Bad to My World. I was late to the band and only discovered them last year but still was able to see them twice before this show. They will be touring throughout the rest of year on the west coast and even going to Asia, Australia and Europe. After that the band is done, which sucks. I’m surprised that the band is ending for good.
Beat Kitchen is a great place for shows. I like the way it’s set up. When you first go in it’s a bar area. All the way in the back is another area where the concerts take place with a stage and a narrower floor space than a lot of other venues. For these types of shows, people either stand on the side by the walls surrounding the pit, stand in the back away from the moshing or surround the stage. If there’s a more metal or other type of show people fill the room up in rows facing the stage. The doors opened at 7 p.m. I got there at like 7:19. The show was supposed to start at 7:30 but didn’t get going until a little after 8. I usually go to metal shows so it’s just a totally different atmosphere with the hardcore bands. At these shows it’s half paying attention to the band and the other half trying not to get kicked in the face. It’s a much more active experience. From my estimation there were a few hundred people there in the room by the time Backtrack started.
Life’s Question opened the show. The band is from Chicago. They put out an EP last year called Curse the Will to Dream. There were a good amount of people there for them, especially since they were the openers. I figured there were around 100 people there when the show started. When he got on stage the singer told everyone to move up towards the front. I thought I would be relatively safe standing against the wall but nope. When everyone started moving in I was like, man. I’m gonna get squished.
I thought Life’s Question were awesome. They sounded great. They got this old school, mid to late ’80s New York hardcore vibe to them but with a fresh sound. The whole band was tight. They did like four or five songs. One of the guitarists threw a few solos in the songs, which was cool. The moshing got crazy. People were running from side to side and slamming into the group of people along the walls and around the pit. I got pushed back pretty hard a few times and hit in the nuts, which sucked. There were also these coat hanger things stuck to the wall that my head bashed into from the force of it all. Hey, it’s all good friendly violent fun. You always have to expect it from these types of shows. At one point there were like a dozen people dancing in the pit all at the same time. It was super cool to see. People were body splashing on top of each other. You could seriously lose an eye at one these gigs. Life’s Question had some good riffs and breakdowns. I heard some metal influences in there too. I think the singer mentioned they had a fill in drummer for this show. They had a woman playing guitar with them, which was cool too. At one point the singer talked about how Backtrack influenced them and that the band shows hardcore is what you put into it. Everyone clapped for that.
I really want to see Life’s Question again. The set ended at 8:21 so they only played less than 20 minutes. I don’t know how long the band has been around but they’re a group that should go somewhere. The whole band had to be like in their very early 20s at the oldest. They didn’t sound like some crappy local act or anything. They were fantastic.
Rule Them All had a good set. They’re also from Long Island, New York. Rule Them All are a relatively newer band having formed in 2017. They put out their second EP named An Alignment Of Polarity in May 2018. I hadn’t heard of them before this show but did check out some of their songs before going. I was also looking forward to seeing them in person. A lot of people that came for Life’s Question did clear out for their set though. It looked like there was like 25 percent of the room left. My initial impression was that the band all looked like regular guys. I would never have guessed any of them were in a band. That’s not a knock on them but just a lot different from what you encounter with many other bands. They started playing at 8:38 and ended at 8:55. They did five songs. Rule Them All were really good and had a more melodic sound to them. The singer also mentioned how much an influence Backtrack was on them, especially being from Long Island. They had a really good set. They weren’t as heavy as the others that night but still had good riffs and songs. The singer talked a lot in between songs. He seemed like a cool guy. He said touring isn’t as bad with the right people and you don’t even notice it. The band has a lot of upside and good energy. I liked the way they sounded. Rule Them All was a good mix between the other bands.
Dead Heat are from Oxnard, California. They’re another relatively newer band from the last few years. They put out a new album in February called Cause of Death. There’s a Crumbsuckers cover on the album so they definitely have great influences. The band absolutely crushed. They were really impressive. The band started their set at 9:09. The drummer was seriously good. One of the guitarists was a long haired blondish dude who ripped on solos. By just the second song I was hooked. The band nailed down the crossover sound pretty fantastically. It didn’t sound like some lame throwback stuff though. The singer said it was their first time ever in Chicago. The people there were going nuts too. There were a ton of people moshing like crazy and diving everywhere. They were slamming into people against the walls too. The guitar solo in the fifth song they did reminded me of the one from “Crush the Demoniac” by Cro-Mags, which was funny. You could hear both the hardcore and metal influences heavily in the songs. In the crowd there was a mix of headbanging and the hardcore vein of moshing. It seemed like they did play several songs from their new album. They ended at 9:35 after doing eight songs. The singer Chris Ramos was pretty charismatic and sounded great. He had a lot of energy on stage.
I also never heard of Dead Heat before besides briefly checking them out before the show. I’m glad I got to see them live. They were amazing and absolutely killed. I think the live stuff sounded better than the recorded songs from the album.
Backtrack were great. The band started playing at 10. James Vitalo said it started at Beat Kitchen and it was going to end at the Beat Kitchen. The first time I saw them was at the Beat Kitchen too. They opened with “Their Rules” and then went into “Bad To My World.” In the set they played songs like “The Worst of Both Worlds,” “Erase the Rat,” “One With You” and “War.”
People were going absolutely wild. There was a ton of moshing, dancing and stage diving. I got pushed against the wall a lot again and banged up. People were ramming and slamming into the crowd by the walls pretty hard because it was on the edges of the pit. It was super packed with people. During the set there was one of the fastest circle pits I’ve seen. The room is a much smaller area than some huge venue, but it was still crazy. There were several people running around in the center of the room like they were in a roller derby or Sonic the Hedgehog. It was awesome. At one point James said he didn’t care if you knew them for 10 years or 10 minutes he wanted everyone to mosh. I thought that was a good line. Towards the end of the show there were two people that jumped off the stage but nobody caught them, so the second person ended up falling on the first who was already laying on the floor.
It sucks to see Backtrack go out. It didn’t really feel like a final show at all. The energy in the room was off the charts though. I think they did between 10-12 songs. I kind of lost count. They ended the set at 10:32 and didn’t come back for any more songs. It seemed like they could have played a lot longer and done more songs, especially since it was their last show ever in Chicago.
It was cool to see how much Backtrack meant to so many people. They’re a great hardcore band to come out in the last decade.