Local H, live at The Cold Space
No one does adversity like Local H. It’s a long story and we could go into it but really, we think that will all be better covered some day in Scott Lucas’ autobiography.
The band’s audience and anyone just plain Jones’ing for live music could indulge in a live-streamed performance Friday night, broadcast from The Cold Space in Chicago via YouTube and Facebook. Where the masses would usually assemble to cheer, mosh and nurse another night of tinnitus, Lucas and drummer Ryan Harding invited everyone to tune in and witness how rock & roll will carry on.
Rather than cobble together a set list and promote their ninth album ‘Lifers,’ the duo threw audiences a welcome curveball: they would perform their 2004 album ‘Whatever Happened to PJ Soles?’ from start to finish.
The album dropped at a precarious time; politics and post-9/11 aside, Napster-style file-sharing sites were still robbing the pockets of working musicians – the rich dead ones as well. It was easy to question the wisdom of releasing a long form album that was likely just going to be peer-shared away.
But Lucas and then-drummer Brian St. Clair wrote, recorded and released what turned out to be a minor masterwork in the form of ‘Soles.’ Where their previous two albums ‘Here Comes the Zoo’ and ‘No Fun’ were full of stand-alone rock songs, ‘Soles’ reached for something higher; the album’s sonic riffs and memorable lines felt thematically cohesive throughout. The connection bordered at times on operatic, and so here they are, 16 years later with a body of work that still lent itself well to being performed from beginning to end.
Fast forward to the Spring of 2020 and the band’s tour with Soul Asylum is suddenly halted. No longer able to work from the stage for their audience and sign at the merch table, Lucas and Harding found themselves grounded by circumstance.
Yet Lucas and company have historically rebounded from adversity the way Jake Lamotta never hit the mat. When the fists start flying Local H has been least likely to embrace the luxury of slowing down.
The duo delivered a faithful recital of ‘PJ Soles’ then turned to the comment feed of the broadcast, pen and paper in hand, soliciting encore suggestions from the audience. The show ran nearly three hours.
The move meant lesser-heard favorites like ‘Gig Bag Road’ and Mudhoney’s suddenly appropriate ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ became part of the show. Lucas, known to take the world up on a chance at a good tongue-in-cheek moment (see their covers of Brittany Spears’ ‘Toxic’ and Lorde’s ‘Team’), reappeared in black afro wig and was soon unapologetically kicking into a request for ‘Free Bird.’
‘Going down in flames but it feels OK,’ Lucas sang on ‘That’s What They All Say.’ Maybe harsh Chicago winters tempered the band’s endurance, but rather than burn out Local H lit up what could’ve been another dark Friday night.
See the full performance here: