For the third year running, Tall Pat Records has joined forces with the Empty Bottle to bring local Chicago acts to the stage for Cuddlestock: a showcase of Tall Pat Records’ pride and joys. Around 8 p.m. on Friday, December 4, there was a severe lack of cuddling, but after midnight, it was a body-to-body lovefest. If you were there, you saw Tall Pat, the near-seven-foot guy drunkenly declaring his love to his blushing newlywed wife from onstage before announcing each band.
Glyders took the stage to open the show and the mellow mood of the crowd blended with the warm-up act. Glyders have a lofi beach-punk sound with a slow country-rolling flare. All the vocals were double-layered through the mic, even when the band was addressing the crowd. It was a chilled-out, trippy vibe that warmed up what little crowd had gathered at the start.
The Rubs, however, couldn’t be contained. Vocalist Joey Rubbish spent more time singing from the floor than addressing the crowd. He’s in his own little world when he performs, and it’s pretty easy to tell when you’ve witnessed him pull the front of his shirt over his head, slide around on the floor, end up jumping off the stage and burrowing underneath it all the while flinging littered beer cans into the audience. The music was faster and more raw, setting the tone for the punkier sounds of the rest of the night, and even from the floor, Joey’s vocal range was wild and loveable.
As the most modest performance of the night, Clearance took the stage with vocalist Mike Bellis standing shyly stage left and out of the direct spotlight. Clearance has grungy guitar riffs and harmonics that sound so developed, it’s hard to consider it grunge aside from the way it all comes together. The dark tones had a more matured sound and arrangement, but their stage presence hints that they’re unaware of just how much potential they have.
To close out the night, a stumbling Tall Pat called Flesh Panthers to the stage. They immediately launched into music that strays from the definition of post-punk. It was rebellious, raw, loud and thrashy as opposed to the prepackaged clean sounds of modern punk, signaling a throwback to the late 70s and early 80s. By now the crowd was packed and Cuddlestock had truly lived up to its name. To close out the show, Flesh Panthers called as many fans as would fit onto the stage, and the show ended in a blur of screaming drunks jumping off the stage into the pit.