When: Fri., Jan. 2, 6 p.m. 2009
Chicago punk stalwarts NAKED RAYGUN were instrumental in establishing the identity of midwestern punk in the early 80s: no-frills, no-nonsense, blue-collar, melodic, adept and inventive, and more interested in power than in posing. They formally called it quits in the early 90s, after a long series of lineup changes (most notably, guitarist Santiago Durango defected to Big Black and his replacement, John Haggerty, left to start Pegboy), but since 2006 they’ve been a going concern again—who knows what took them so long, since Quarterstick’s 1999 reissues of their back catalog had already established beyond much doubt that there was plenty of demand. The 2007 documentary What Poor Gods We Do Make, which includes plenty of footage of their ’06 Riot Fest sets, served not just as a celebration of the band but of the Chicago scene itself—screenings fulfilled a social function as punk-rock family reunions. Today’s lineup is the same as the one on 1990’s Raygun . . . Naked Raygun—that is, there’s no Haggerty, whose playing and songwriting I particularly miss—but the tunes have lost none of their punch or potency. —Monica Kendrick HOT WATER MUSIC were so ahead of 90s-band reunion fever that they broke up and got back together before the decade was even over. Though that split was really more of a blip, when the band called it quits again in 2006 (singer and guitarist Chuck Ragan wanted to spend more time with his kids), it looked they were actually done. But after lots of online teases, they’re back, and they’ve been playing sporadically since last January. Supposedly they started to support the release of a singles and B-sides comp, Till the Wheels Fall Off (No Idea), but it came out in early ’08—knowing how these things go, I bet all the goading from their audience has already convinced the boys to keep playing pretty much indefinitely. In their day—their initial day—Hot Water Music were the emo-iest hardcore band going. Dogmatic, bearded, dirty, forever touring, they were the underground dogsbody: though they’ve always been a great live band, tirelessly dedicated to their scene and their fans, instead of rising to fame they watched their comrades become phenomena (Against Me!, Alkaline Trio) while they toiled in the trenches. I’m not sure they make ’em like this anymore, so best catch HWM now, before we learn how long “indefinitely” really is. —Jessica Hopper Naked Raygun headlines; Hot Water Music, Shot Baker, and the Copyrights open.