Midwest power pop worth flying in for will be taking place in the suburbs of Chicago on Saturday, May 4. Shoes was one of the first groups ever to appear on MTV, and their basement-made debut, Black Vinyl Shoes, was dubbed by no less an expert than Ira Robbins “one of the finest home-brewed releases ever.” But for this guy, it’s Green that’s worth the trip. Twenty years ago, I wrote in my college newspaper:
More than a mere collection of songs, Green’s first album is a total reinvigoration of rock and roll. Its dynamism and energy are palpable; in a Chicago scene that placed a premium on being blasé, Green made it safe to love rock again, to love it wide-eyed and big. It was so goddamn cool to like this band and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that Green was not just my favorite band in the world, it was my favorite thing in the world.
A few months after that first record came out, I joined Green, and that’s how I earned my living for the next four years. We put out more records, toured the world. We had a ball. Later in the same article, I wrote: “The triumphs were many, far outnumbering the disappointments, and I wouldn’t trade even my worst minute in Green for anything.” That’s still true. Green’s influence, and that of its dreamy singer-songwriter, Jeff Lescher, can be felt in a ton of Chicago pop bands that made it much bigger than Green itself, from Smashing Pumpkins to Fall Out Boy to Caviar to Smoking Popes. That’s not a tragedy—it’s a triumph. And on Saturday night, I’ll join a bunch of old friends to celebrate.
Shoes plus Green, FitzGerald’s 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, Ill., $20