HoZac Blackout Fest: the Boys, First Base, 999999999, the Man | Empty Bottle | Fairs & Festivals | Chicago Reader

HoZac Blackout Fest: the Boys, First Base, 999999999, the Man Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., May 16, 9 p.m. 2014

The Blackout festival, a legendarily drunken annual celebration of punk, garage, and rock 'n' roll presented by local label HoZac Records since 2001, had a blackout of its own from 2007 till 2010, but in its fourth post-hiatus year it's looking as sharp as ever, with big-name headliners the Boys and the Dictators NYC plus some excellent opening acts. As usual the party starts with a Thursday-­night art show, which features work by artists from around the world (Hein Coetzee, Brian Shanley, Rubin) and one of the weekend's most solid music lineups. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, and featuring members of Times New Viking and Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, noise-pop duo Counter Intuits headline (after playing an in-store at Permanent Records at 4 PM), and the two opening acts are among Chicago's greatest weirdos—the Flipper-worshipping Nones and the art-rocking Toupee.

Among the openers for power-poppy UK punks the Boys (see below) on Fri 5/16 are 999999999, aka All Nines, the fuzzy bedroom project of Brooklyn-based artist and musician Anthony MacBain, and locals the Man, who play dirgy hardcore punk in suits and ties and scream about the importance of commerce.

On Sat 5/17, the Blackout's final night, provide main support for the Dictators NYC. A new group out of New York, they play streamlined, snotty glam and power pop, a lot like the Carbonas from Atlanta—the band that contributed two of their members. Also on the bill are A Giant Dog from Austin (with members of Bad Sports and OBN IIIs) and locals Rainbow Gun Show. —Luca Cimarusti

HoZac pulled off quite a coup getting these guys for the Blackout fest. The Boys’ current lineup features three founding members of this original-flavor London punk outfit, and they’re pushing their first album of new material since 1981: Punk Rock Menopause (Wolverine) drops next month. (Later this year HoZac plans to release a seven-inch of songs from 1979 that have never come out on vinyl before.) The Boys debuted in 1976, after guitarist Matt Dangerfield left the band London SS, where he’d played with Mick Jones (later of the Clash) and Boys keyboardist Casino Steel; at the time Dangerfield ran a homemade recording studio in his basement that briefly served as a hub for everyone who was anyone in the UK scene. The Boys were the first punk band to sign a multiple-record deal with a major label, but they got screwed when Elvis died and vinyl-pressing plants devoted themselves to the huge posthumous demand for his music; they were also the opening band on that infamous night in Croydon in 1977 when John Cale decapitated a chicken onstage. These guys should write a book, but I’m hardly disappointed that they’ve made a new album instead—it’s a purely pleasurable time capsule whose 13 no-filler songs demonstrate once again just how unfair it is that they’ve never been as well-known as some of their contemporaries. The Boys have lost none of their way with a hook: they’re at least as good with ’em as the Damned used to be (and better at arranging harmonies), and when they go into full-on “party like it’s 1976” mode (an actual line from the title track), their chunking riffs can hold their own next to anything by the Ramones. This is only their fourth-ever U.S. performance. If you care at all about living punk history, don’t miss it. —Monica Kendrick

Price: $25, $55 three-day festival pass

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