Material: While Headless Honchos’ beginnings were in the late ‘90s Chicago punk scene, the band recently reunited after a 16-year hiatus.
Their live material draws mainly from their latest release, Over the Top, which is a mixture of songs influenced by various punk styles, i.e. pop-punk, street punk, garage punk and even some hardcore.
Musicianship: Steve Elfinger and Daniel Lewis take charge of vocal performances, and are both solid singers who complement each other’s abilities well. Elfinger also plays guitar, while Lewis works double duty on the bass. Johnny Thunder on drums rounds out this talented trio.
Performance: Headless Honchos were the opening band for an evening, which included The Rezillos. They started off their set with “No Work.” This was a decent song to start the show, but it also lends itself well to establish a call-and-response interaction between band and audience, which might be helpful in sustaining momentum in the middle of the set.
The title track to their latest release, “Over the Top,” was performed with high energy, and the ever-growing crowd started to warm up to the band. Headless Honchos then performed a fun, new pop-punk song original, and another tune called, “Ignite,” featuring tight breaks, which the band nailed flawlessly.
Next came the complex epic, “Wolf or Man,” with its varied rhythms and tempo changes, followed by “Debbie Downer,” a pop-punk song with catchy guitar riffs. The band blazed through “I Love to Get Wasted” and “Nicotine Junkie” to end with their self-proclaimed rock anthem, “Live & Die for Rock ‘N’ Roll.”
The band got the audience singing along with them, and Elfinger entertained the crowd with his rock star guitar antics. A fitting ending to a fun set.
Summary: If you tend to like bands to stay within a certain area stylistically, Headless Honchos, as mentioned, do not have a homogenous sound. None of their songs are alike. If you prefer bands to look like they are having fun on stage, Headless Honchos seemed to be a winner here, especially as more people began to arrive and listen to them. The band started to look more comfortable on stage as the set progressed. Overall, they were an entertaining opening act.
Players: Daniel Lewis, bass, vocals; Johnny Thunder, drums; Steve Elfinger, guitar, vocals.
Venue: Reggie’s Rock Club
City: Chicago, IL
– Mary Lemanski