Chicago’s most prominent pop-punk bands Real Friends and Knuckle Puck marked the end of 2017 with their annual two-day “Holiday Extravaganza.” The second night featured Real Friends’ playing Put Yourself Back Together EP in full, along with a few crowd favorites, and Knuckle Puck’s The Weight That You Buried EP with a few songs of their latest album Shapeshifter. The opening acts included Nashville emo band Free Throw and Knuckle Puck bassist Ryan Rumchaks’ side project, Homesafe.
Free Throw kicked off night two playing songs off their undoubtedly great album Bear Your Mind. The album is a mature second chapter to their first LP, Those Days Are Gone. The band instantaneously drew in the crowd with their fervent lyrics and raw guitar tones, and ended with their popular hit “Two Beers.” Anyone who is ingrained in the Chicago pop-punk scene is well familiar with Homesafe, Ryan Rumchak’s side project. The band recently announced they signed with Pure Noise Records and are currently in the process of writing their debut LP. The band played songs off Evermore and a handful of other singles. While they are popular in the Chicago music scene, their commanding stage presence, their emotive and relatable lyrics, and striking larger than life sound, it is only a matter of time before everyone else starts to love Homesafe because 2018 is bound to be their year.
Every concert-goer loves to hear a fan-favorite album in its entirety. Considered to be the band’s “breakthrough” release, Real Friends performed Put Yourself Back Together EP from start to finish, as well as a few extra songs among their discography. Following newer songs and other fan-favorites, the crowd’s enthusiasm was immediately apparent when the band played the first song of the EP, “Late Nights in My Car.” With its catchy chorus, it’s hard to not want to dance and sing along. Speaking of choruses, “Skin Deep” is also a fun one, especially with its reference to the influential rock band, Jimmy Eat World.
Of course, the song “I’ve Given Up on You” earned the most attention from the audience. This incredibly sad ballad contains lyrics that many may relate to at least one point in life. It may be the band’s most “emo” song performed that night, but that didn’t stop the crowd from singing along to every word of it. Meanwhile, “Old and All Alone” carried the sound and energy that every pop-punk song should have. Finally, the band made a memorable end with the last song from the EP, “Lost Boy.”
To end a whirlwind of a night filled with lots of sing-alongs and crowd surfing, Knuckle Puck took the stage to play their breakthrough EP The Weight That You Buried and additional songs off their albums Copacetic and Shapeshifter. The band gave a stellar performance with guts and gusto playing off the crowd’s energy starting their set with “Twist” and ending the night with “Fences.”
At one point in their performance, none of other than Santa Clause himself and Buddy The Elf joined the band on stage to distribute presents to the lucky crowd. After having one of their biggest years to date, the band reminisced over their growth from playing their first show at Centennial Lanes with Real Friends to now, almost a handful of years later, headlining one of the city’s most popular venues – the Metro. It was heart-warming for the band and fans alike to come together to revel in such a monumental moment.
It was a superb way to end such a big year for all the bands on the bill. It is safe to say that with half of these bands releasing new albums this year and a handful of tours already on the schedule, 2018 is bound to be a tremendous year for Chicago pop-punk reigning bands.
Written by Jina Bute and Annayelli Flores