As most of our friends should already be aware of by now, Scott Picco, the drummer in Bear Claw, is leaving in a few weeks to live in Germany for a period of at least 18 months, due to a job-related offer to relocate and work there. We're all super excited for Scott because it will be a great opportunity for him, although we'll be bummed that it means Bear Claw will be on hiatus that long. As you know, our own Rich Fessler rocks nearly identical Ernie Ball Music Man bass guitars in both Mayor For Life and Bear Claw.
As for me, I've been going to their shows since pretty much the beginning, and I think I might hold either #1 or #2 on the list of "most Bear Claw shows attended by a non band member" if anyone had been keeping tabs on such a thing. For years, when seeing Bear Claw rock the hell out of tiny places, I've been the one guy that knows exactly where to nod his head to the nonstandard beat, and when not to clap yet and go "WOOOO!!" because the song isn't actually done yet. Hell, a few times I've been the one guy in attendance who isn't in one of the other bands playing that night, I'm sure--buzzed up, shouting "I WANTED YOU TO DIE!" along with Rich, wondering why the hell so few other people were around to enjoy it.
So it's been pretty great to see them put out three records and slowly build up a small yet devoted following and a fair amount of respect from their peers and even some of their heroes. All of a sudden in 2008 they're touring Europe. Then in 2009 I'm seeing them open up for Shellac at what I think was a sold out show (or if not, a nearly sold out show) at the Bottom Lounge, which is a decently sized venue--something they'd done at different venues quite a few times at that point. Now they're planning a second Europe tour in May of this year, while Scott is living over there.
And I'm definitely no longer the only one standing in the crowd, buzzed up, yelling "I WANTED YOU TO DIE," correctly nodding along to the odd time signatures, and not falling for the false endings. What's so endearing about that is that Bear Claw managed to carve out their little niche more or less out of spite, and because of a solid work ethic. They know that what they do isn't pop music--it's abrasive, there aren't any guitars, and these two pissed off guys keep shouting at you. They don't care. It's what they do, and they do it well. In person, they're three of the nicest guys I know. They're what I love about living in Chicago--it's at times loud and menacing, jarring you out of your sense of complacency, while being altogether interesting as all hell and friendly. I know not everyone wants to live here because it's balls cold almost half of the year, but that's fine with me, because I don't really mind the cold.
Here's the part where the cliche Nelson Algren quote comes in whenever anyone talks about Chicago: "Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real." I think it definitely fits Bear Claw's music too.
So of course I called in a favor to my friends to let their little brother band open up for Bear Claw once before they head off to Europe for a month, then go on an extended break. I'm pretty excited that they acquiesced and I get to once again share a stage with one of my favorite Chicago bands ever. Make sure you get there early, not only because you might miss us, but also because you might not get in. Quenchers is a small place, and it'll be full of all of the other people who aren't falling for the false endings any more.