The folks at Last Rites know that if you’re going to launch a metal festival, you better have an irreplaceable Rolodex. For the debut of Heavy Chicago, these veteran local underground rock promoters have booked some huge out-of-town headliners whose histories go back to the early 1980s: sludgy riff masters Corrosion of Conformity (Saturday, November 4) and crossover thrash icons D.R.I. (Sunday, November 5). But I’m particularly interested in Trouble, the Chicago group headlining the fest’s first day on Saturday, October 28. Their twisting, perversely optimistic opuses have influenced untold numbers of doom bands since the 1984 release of their debut LP, Psalm 9, and this is their first Chicago show since a Beat Kitchen date in December 2018.
Guitarists Rick Wartell and Bruce Franklin are the only founding members remaining in Trouble’s current incarnation. Since 2012, Kyle Thomas of Exhorder has fronted Trouble (he was also their vocalist for a few years in the late 90s), and in 2021 original vocalist Eric Wagner, who’d left the band in 2008, died from COVID-related pneumonia. Now that a reunion of the original lineup is impossible, this show has added significance—and how often do we get to celebrate these doom progenitors at a headlining festival set? Dutch label Hammerheart recently released the two-CD Trouble compilation Revelations of the Insane (it came out physically last year and digitally this year), whose rarities and demos document the band’s evolution between 1980 and 1994. The bluesy tracks that open Revelations have a raw, feral energy that makes the collection worth seeking out, especially if you’re dipping your toes into Trouble’s discography and lore for the first time. The motorcycle thrum of “Demon’s Claw” could make you a believer even quicker than Psalm 9.
Trouble Part of day one of the festival Heavy Chicago, which continues on Sat 11/4 and Sun 11/5. Trouble headline; Acid King, Bongzilla, and Novembers Doom open. Sat 10/28, 6 PM, Avondale Music Hall, 3336 N. Milwaukee, $35 single-day pass, $70 a two-day pass (Sat 10/28 and Sat 11/4), $100 three-day pass, 17+