Home / Concert Reviews / Call Me Lightning w/ Liquor Store and Canadian Rifle @ Cactus Club
Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013

Call Me Lightning w/ Liquor Store and Canadian Rifle @ Cactus Club

Dec. 22, 2013

Call Me Lightning
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Call Me Lightning grabbed a lot of headlines when it was announced a few weeks back that the venerable, bruising Milwaukee band would finally be following up 2010’s much-loved When I’m Gone My Blood Will Be Free with a new full-length, Human Hell. The record, due out in January on Minneapolis label 25 Diamonds, is certainly something to look forward to in these typically musically barren winter months, but that anticipation was only part of what packed a wall-to-wall crowd into the Cactus Club Saturday night, as the band was sharing the stage with two touring bands, each with noteworthy albums of their own.

First up was Chicago group Canadian Rifle, who’s latest LP Deep Ends came out late last month courtesy of Dirt Cult Records. The band, now a three-piece after some personnel shake-ups, trades in an abrasive but not overtly aggressive brand of punk, one that’s full of crunchy, thrashing guitar riffs and snarling vocals but stops short of sacrificing melody or hooks. The band’s not exactly a ray of sunshine, playing in front of a banner with the words “dreams” and “hope” encircled and slashed through by the universal “no” symbol, but some humorous between-song banter pitting Wisconsin versus Illinois showed a lighter side.

Following Canadian Rifle was the aptly named New Jersey outfit Liquor Store, who’s new In the Garden has built up quite a bit of steam since its release back in October. Led by former Titus Andronicus drummer Sarim Al-Rawi, the band is firmly committed to rocking hard and partying hard, blending the LSD-addled garage rock of Black Lips, the teenage-delinquent punk of The Dictators and the good ol’ boy stomp of Lynrd Skynyrd. Their relentless three-guitar attack, turned up to 11 of course, made for heavy, heady renditions of album highlights like “Midnight Walker” and the title track, among other material.

It’s a little unusual for a local band to have two out-of-town acts opening for them, but judging by the density of bodies crammed into the Cactus Club’s tiny back room, Call Me Lightning were the obvious headliners. Their set, covering fan favorites like “We Be Dragons” and hinting at Human Hell, was best when their fondness for arena-ready hard rock and Minutemen-style post-hardcore found explosive common ground, but slightly less engaging whenever their unfortunate sea shanty/Celtic punk leanings came to the fore. Overall. though, it was an appropriately epic, fist-pumping end to a Saturday night full of heavy hitters.