…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead (aka Trail Of Dead) dedicated their eighth album, 2012′s Lost Songs, to the Russian riot trio Pussy Riot. It was fitting that Trail of Dead brought along the Coat Hangers to join them at their performance in Chicago on Wednesday night.
At the Bottom Lounge on the eve of Thanksgiving, Coat Hangers opened, all matching in red t-shirts and tight black pants, and the ladies showed their skills onstage. Toward the end of their set, Trail of Dead went onstage to join the cacophony, hitting the cymbals and singing along with the band. When Trail of Dead came out to play, the lounge filled up with devoted fans. And if there was any twinge of buyer’s remorse for the show before it started, it was gone just as the band began to play. It was the last show on their lengthy tour, which starts back up again in early 2013. They had just flown in from Toronto and were exhausted, yet their set was anything but lackluster.
Trail of Dead has a method in their live performances, which are never identical and often improvised and spurred by the heat of the moment. They push the boundaries that have become forced upon a rock and roll show, where people stand politely and the stage is prohibited from even a patron’s finger to lie upon. Trail of Dead live is a giant “fuck you” to being obedient and subservient. Instead, they let the crowd come onstage, giving them full reign. A gal stood, crashing cymbals on their flawless classic Ludwig Drum kit. A group huddled around the men on stage, singing along in bliss. And for the grand finale, the Coat Hangers followed suit, returning the love by joining in on the festivities. Bottom Lounge let this potential hazard go; being good sports as always, security backed off and let the wild tantrums close out the night.
They played songs from Worlds Apart, their sophomore release Madonna, the classic Source Tags & Codes and a few from 2011′s Tao Of The Dead, as well as cuts from Lost Songs. Conrad Keely, guitarist and vocalist, screamed onstage until a surge of adrenaline had the crowd up in arms as he dragged the microphone and cord onto the floor, weaving through the people reaching toward him as if it were a scene from The Walking Dead. His counterpart, Jason Reece, kept up with Keely but stayed onstage, multitasking as usual along with bassist Autry Fulbright II. Fulbright flipped his bass upside down as if a sacred sword, knighted by the kings of rock and roll, was swearing him in. Jamie Miller and Jason Reece played musical chairs on the drums. Both had their own unique pattern that was recognizable when swapping out, even if the listener was outside the venue.
With the aggressive persistence of the percussion and wall of sound guitar/bass combination, the crowd was left with more energy than they had probably hoped for, preparing themselves instead for the foreshadowing tryptophan coma induced by post-Thanksgiving festivities.