Made Out of Babies, Plague Bringer, PIGS @ Empty Bottle, Chicago 8/10/2008

Due to some unforeseen barbecue delays, I was a bit late getting over to the Empty Bottle the other night. It was a reasonable turnout for a Sunday night show — about a hundred metal-hipsters in all their glory. Somehow it made the place seem a bit more dangerous than usual. Anyway, I walked in somewhere near the end of the PIGS set. They sounded loud and angsty, which is pretty much what I was expecting. At least I got to hear a couple tracks.

Next up was Plague Bringer. They started setting up a rather impressive wall of speaker cabinets. Impressive enough that it almost crossed over into the realm of the comical. Anyway, their instrumentation consists of two guitarists and a vocalist. Drums and bass are handled through pre-sequenced stuff on their MacBook. One thing that impressed me is how well the show flowed through the set — having pre-recorded tracks gave it a very choreographed feel, and we were never left standing there during any awkward stage banter or extended tuning breaks. Which is good, because these guys gave a very technically proficient performance. Personally, it wasn’t my cup of tea, but that’s just me — judging from the crowd reaction and the comments overheard around me, they were a big hit.

Finally we got to Made Out of Babies. They’re a female-fronted 4-piece metal band from Brooklyn. I had listened to a bunch of their catalog and read some other press before going to the show, so I was excited to see what all the buzz was about. They didn’t disappoint. Lead singer Julie Christmas paces frantically around the stage while the band launches into the introduction to ‘Cooker’. You can feel the nervous tension as the song builds. Then when the big guitars and drums come in, all hell breaks loose. Julie screams, whimpers, and hisses as only a seasoned frontwoman can, all the while stomping around or writhing on the floor. At the start of the third song, she rifled her shot glass into the crowd. I turned around in time to see a guy get his hands up and defend himself, just a split second before it would have ricocheted off his head. The rest of the show seemed to race by and was over just as quickly as it started.

Afterwards, I struck up a conversation with bassist Cooper, who took the time to discuss their show and latest disc. He invited me backstage to meet Julie, and then we discussed their tour and thoughts about why they play to much more enthusiastic audiences in Europe. They all seemed like genuine, hard-working people and it was a great experience. I picked up a copy of their disc and spent my morning commute the next day listening to it. Still rocks just as hard.