New Music for Old Rockers – Rage Against Age Concert Edition

I’m old. However, somehow I have put together my best concert year ever in 2019, although with some concessions to age. I missed driving 3+ hours to see the Smithereens perform recently at Abe Fest …

Smithereens Springfield

Thank God. Although I love those 80’s/90’s rockers and have wanted to see them for years now, I didn’t want to see them enough to drive to Springfield to freakin’ Abe Fest. Regardless, I waited a bit too long, and their lead vocalist passed away a couple years ago. Enter 80’s power popper Marshall Crenshaw to take over vocal duties. I thought it was an odd combination of upbeat vocals from Crenshaw for brooding Smithereen songs like “Blood and Roses.” I had to find out for myself.

I saw that the Smithereens were playing an outdoor festival gig just outside Chicago last Friday. Would the wife approve of my going? Yes! But under one condition. She didn’t want me to drag her to Skokie to see them. It’s a deal! I was flying solo.

The Smithereens/Crenshaw amalgam looked and sounded great in suburban Chicago …


The 3 remaining Smithereens are just wise guys from New Jersey who came out on stage dropping f-bombs until someone must have told them it was a family-friendly festival. They toned it down. Hey, what’s a Smithereens show without swearing? Fugetaboutit!

Midwesterner Crenshaw was in fine voice, and outside of a couple times he sang just a bit too syrupy for a Smithereens song, he fit in well. I’m a little sorry that they opted not to play even one Crenshaw song. And I’m really sorry I didn’t go early to see Chicago’s own Material Issue open the show. Love this tune …

Missing Material Issue was more of a concession to Chicago’s rush hour traffic than it was to age. However, getting home 5 hours after I left to see one musical act was about my limit. And at that point, I knew my dream of attending Riot Fest in Chicago was dead.

My 2 oldest kids are interested in attending Riot Fest on an upcoming Sunday in September, but to see different acts than the ones I wanted to see. I could enjoy Riot Fest with my kids separately and wave at them in passing between stages. I really was pumped to see the acts highlighted in yellow.

Riot Fest schedule

No real conflicts or decisions to make except Bob Mould or B-52’s. Not an easy decision for me, but I lean B-52’s. All told, that would be 6 shows in almost 8 hours. Add in a couple hours for transportation there and back, and that makes a 10 hour day for me. Nope, 10 hours of activity is simply not going to happen for me. I may rage against my age, but I will do so sitting on my ass watching some NFL on that Sunday afternoon.

Maybe I can be so cavalier about missing Riot Fest because I have one more big concert up my sleeve for this summer that threatens to rival the Spoon/Cage/Beck show I attended. I’m not saying what show, but we’ll see if I can “Go” pull that one off.