It’s a surprisingly mild December night in Chicago and a long line of teens is snaking down Clark and around the corner of Racine. Beginning in front of the infamous Chicago music venue Metro, and winding off into the dark, these antsy youngsters have opted to spend their Saturday night checking out four equally antsy bands. While Treaty of Paris is the headliner, Danger Is My Middle Name, The Frantic, and American Taxi promise to offer exciting performances of their own.

The doors open at six, and as Wrigley Field looms in the foggy darkness, the line slowly begins to inch its way forward, clearing alleyways and barfronts and filling the interior of the venue with a loud and energetic group of patrons. The line to get into Metro may be long, but the line for pink wristbands authorizing the wearers to buy overpriced alcohol ($7 for an ice-filled whiskey and coke in a thimble… I mean plastic cup) is noticeably short.

Climbing the antiqued staircase to the second floor, the ambiance of the elaborately designed building (constructed in 1927 as a Swedish community center) provides more than enough reverence to those that cross the stage, even without considering that R.E.M. played the first mainstage gig here in 1982 (a few years before most of tonight’s patrons were born). The second floor balcony offers a clear view of the quickly filling main floor. As more and more bodies fill the space the ground disappears entirely and only bobbing heads and brightly colored shirts are visible.

Danger Is My Middle Name takes the stage amidst sporadic screams from the female audience members and an audioclip from the 1997 film Austin Powers, featuring Mike Myers intoning the band’s titular line. Angst-ridden emo lyrics and guitar riffs fill the space and though it’s difficult to understand most of the lyrics, it seems most of the audience don’t need any help from singer Gabe Atkins. Beneath their soft emo veneer, solid rock pours from the musicians and if it leans towards the vaguely familiar and slightly worn style of the late ’90s, this recognition is lost on the audience.

In an expertly quick and adept breakdown, Danger Is My Middle Name has cleared the stage, though it’s clear a few band members are hesitant to leave the limelight as they trail behind waving and soaking up the audience’s approval. But teenage minds are fickle and even louder shouts of elation fill the air as the next band is announced by Chicago’s Q101 radio personality Ryan Manno. Immediately the intensity in the room is racheted up a notch as lead singer Kyle Dee rushes the stage, embracing Manno and then spraying water into the crowd and giving the band’s signature line “We’re the Frantic! Who the f*%& are you?” from the opening track of their new cd Audio & Murder.

Like the cd itself, the songs come fast and furious, driven by the rapid-fire drumbeats provided by Brett Hartwell. With “Frantic Summer” and “Fast Girl” getting the crowd jumping, a small eddy-like moshpit forms towards the rear of the audience, offering further evidence of just how packed the place is when roughly a dozen people shoving each other can effectively get the entire crowd moving. The more heartfelt, though still ‘tude-laden “I Don’t Want To Be Alone” comes next, further igniting the crowd. But the highlight of the night is Dee’s tale of a previous visit to Metro when he remarked to a security guard about how he’d like to play there one day. “He just laughed at me,” recounts Dee, “but now I’m standing up here less than three years later.

Though the guys don’t quite exude the stoic rockstar qualities they displayed only a few weeks earlier at the House of Blues, there’s still a certain comfortability to the way these guys take the stage and play together. It’s as if they’ve already been there and seen it all, but haven’t lost their sense of wonder. Perhaps this is a feature of their young age (the eldest band member is 19) or their relatively long history together (four years), but whatever it is, it instills in the audience a sense of watching a group of guys who know what they’ve come to do and plan on doing it right.

“Big Poppa,” “Rock & Roll Renegade,” and “Hollywood Homicide” roll off the set list, working the audience into an excited frenzy, before the guys slow things down with “Movin’ Along.” “I see you guys moshing out there,” yells Dee, “but now it’s time for love. Give it up for love!” As the slower - almost country sounding – tune plays itself out, a few lighters are held up, though with the new smoking ban and the young age of the audience, it’s almost a shock to see any. Mixing the song up a bit, Dee begins to raise his voice into a rock yell for the final verse, before bleeding into their cover favorite and current myspace song “Build Me Up Buttercup” and the set-finisher “Always Gonna Roll.”

With the final chords played and the audience still pumped, Dee ditches his guitar to dive into the front row of the audience. It’s a signature move that usually works, but tonight the cheering girls below him are unprepared for the move, and though he arises no worse for the wear, next time he’ll look before he leaps. As quickly as they set up their equipment, the guys break it down and move out, making way for American Taxi, but you’ll have to look elsewhere for a breakdown of their show as I took this as my cue to leave as well, heading down the stairs, slapping my VIP pass on a passerby and giving the thumbs-up to the Danger Is My Middle Name bandmember signing autographs at the door, before hitting the streets of Chicago.

For more information on The Frantic, including tour dates, visit their homepage
For more reviews by Zach Freeman, visit HubPages

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