Ten years ago today, Metro kicked off the first of many 20th Anniversary concerts with two sold out shows starring Sonic Youth. Below, check out our staff set time sheets from both nights and the silkscreen show poster designed by Crosshair.
Look familiar? You can see this one hanging in the Metro lobby.
I was a teenager in Minnesota when I first heard of Cabaret Metro; it was the venue credited for the live recordings on Sugar’s “A Good Idea” single. The first time I set foot in the venue itself wasn’t until 1999, when some college friends and I drove down from Madison to see the Fantômas show. From my spot in the balcony, Dave Lombardo’s drums looked like they took up almost a third of the stage. Metro became a popular destination for road-trip shows until I moved to Chicago after college. In 2004 my friends in the band New Black were opening up for Secret Machines, and I had just learned to screenprint posters with Steve Walters at Screwball Press. I designed and printed a poster for that show, and Joe Shanahan really liked it (reportedly because it “included the year” in the text). That and a couple other posters (The Faint, Jimmy Eat World) preceded my application for the position of graphic designer — the first job interview I decided not to wear a suit to. Shanahan showed up at the front doors of Metro (smoking a cigar) and we talked about art, design, and music. For the five years following that interview, I had the best job a graphic designer who likes music could ask for, and got to meet and work alongside some of the greatest people ever, including Stacey, who is now my fiancé! Metro and Smart Bar were the centrifuge of my late 20s, and the number of great memories made there approach infinity.
Photo by Erin Leah Pryde - view more via Flickr
Rock review, Guided by Voices at Metro
By Bill Meyer
SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE
Sunday, August 8, 1999
The story of Guided by Voices is a veritable rock ‘n’ roll fairy tale. In 1986, vocalist Robert Pollard and his band turned their backs on an indifferent Dayton, Ohio, music scene and set about making records in their garages. Not even bothering to play live in a town where they couldn’t give their records away, they threw release parties in Pollard’s house and let the LPs gather dust in the basement.
In 1992 the tiny independent label Scat started circulating Guided By Voices amongst the rock underground. The band rode an updraft of rabidly enthusiastic fanzine press out of the basement and onto major stages.
When the group first played Chicago in 1994 they were visibly thrilled just to have the chance to be onstage, but their commanding performances served notice that they had the talent to back up the hype. The extremely prolific Pollard has gone on to write dozens of songs that wrap fever-dream lyrics in catchy power-pop melodies held together by spit-and-tape hiss. The latter are inevitable artifacts of GBV’s homemade recording methods; they often record songs minutes after writing them, sometimes using toy keyboards and cookie sheets for drums.
Pollard and his ever-changing crew (he changes musicians as often as some people change socks) abandoned such rough-and-ready methods and employed producer Ric Ocasek of the Cars to give their recent TVT Records debut “Do the Collapse” the pomp and polish necessary to get on the radio.
The results are mixed; the single “Teenage FBI” benefits from the pumped-up production, but quirkier material like “In Stitches” is as cramped in Ocasek’s glossy settings as a weight-lifter in an ill-fitting rented tux.
The new songs fared better when Guided By Voices played them at the Metro on Friday night. New drummer Jim MacPherson and returning lead guitarist Doug Gillard added fluid facility to GBV’s trademark anthemic intensity.
Rhythm guitarist Nathan Farley and bassist Tim Tobias are competent players, but contributed more with their unfeigned enthusiasm and shameless mugging for the crowd.
Pollard has developed into a seasoned performer with a vigorous repertoire of microphone twirls and high kicks that belie both his age (41) and his prodigious onstage consumption of beer and cigarettes. He quickly established a rapport with the devoted audience, which needed little encouragement to sing along with Pollard on mid-’90s favorites such as “I Am a Scientist” and the new single.
The Lynnfield Pioneers, a quartet from New York City, opened with a set of appealingly brittle rhythms undercut by singsong, adenoidal raps.
(Original show card)
In his own words, Metro owner Joe Shanahan tells his recollection of The Ramones sold out show on July 26, 1986:
The Ramones were touring a new album (Animal Boy) on this tour so they played the entire new record and the greatest hits. I can remember it was hot that night. Maybe the hottest show to ever happen at Metro aside from Iggy Pop. And this was before good ventilation so the walls and ceiling were sweating. Security was passing out fans to guests that night to try to keep them cool and then you look on stage and see the band in their leather jackets! Backstage, it turns out they’d been soaking their feet in ice to cool down.
We’re excited to announce our latest 30th Anniversary event, Guided By Voices on August 11th. Tickets go on sale this Saturday 7/21 at noon.
This is a band that’s no stranger to Metro, gracing our stage for the first time on February 24, 1996. GBV has played here several times since, including ringing in the New Year in 2004/2005. Here’s a great shot from the show by Barry Brecheisen.