Hot Water Music - Live in Chicago
Record Label: No Idea Records
Release Date: October 28, 2012
Four years, eight months and a reunion record since its original recording, emo/punk torchbearers (fight me) Hot Water Music have finally blessed us with Live in Chicago- two albums and a DVD soaked in sweaty, gravelly anthems. And oh, doesn't it sting the eyes gloriously.
The first time I discovered Hot Water Music, I was rifling through my brother's CD collection until I came upon what I would later repeatedly play as one of my favorite class of '99 contenders- No Division. Immediately, thoughts began to take form. "This band sounds like Polar Bear Club" (Cut me a break...I was 15. I didn't fully comprehend what I was hearing yet.). "This band sounds really raw". "I think these guys play that Remedy song from Tony Hawk's Underground!" (again, 15...and no Gamecube shame). But mostly, I found myself craving more once the album was over. What resulted was several months of repeated listens, hunts to collect the rest of the discography at my local record stores, and my purchase of Exister on the day of it's release.
What you'll find in Live in Chicago is everything any fan could hope to experience in the band's live show; that being said, it's more of an essential to die-hard fans than it is a great starting point for those newly interested in Hot Water Music. The first show, recorded live at the Metro on February 1, 2008, begins with "A Flight And a Crash", a jumping point from which the band rips and tears through crowd favorite after crowd favorite. "Remedy" is here, faster than ever, and the harmonies between Chuck Ragan and Chiss Wollard on "Wayfarer" are nothing short of excellent. Their vocals hold out impressively over the span of both nights, with "Rooftops" bursting at its seams with energy and musical precison.
What's really great about this collection is that, despite the time it was recorded, the band does a fairly great job of spanning their discography over the past 15 years of Hot Water Music. "Free Radio Gainesville" is easily a standout, as are crowd favorites "Moonpies For Misfits" and "God Deciding". The second night- February 2, 2008- does nthing to slow the momentum, opening up with the bouncing, instantly recognizable "No Division" and providing more back catalog that dedicated fans are sure to enjoy. "Old Rules" and "Swinger" are excellent as live takes, while the group get to flex their musical chops with an impressive midsection featuring "Manual", "Paper Thin" and the sheer intensity that is "Turnstile".
It's an hour and a half that goes by quicker than you'd expect, and before you know it, the band is closing with an absolutely fiery rendition of "Hard To Know". If these two discs aren't worth the money alone, the DVD ony adds to the fantastic experience of Hot Water Music's live shows. Several songs are thrown in that aren't included on the audio portions, and just the promise of three discs should be enough for any fan of the band to add to their collection. It's not perfect...its beard may not make it pretty...but it's the Hot Water Music that we've all grown up with, and that's the way it ought to be. Here's to any 15-year-olds picking up their brother's copy of Caution anytime soon.