The Regrettes Rock the Subterranean: Concert Review
By Montserrat Vazquez-Posada
LA based rock band The Regrettes makes no apologies. They’re loud and chaotic — in the absolute best way possible. Badass frontwoman Lydia Night sings about falling in love, heartbreak and what it means to be a teenage girl in today’s world. The 18-year-old doesn’t hold back, and maybe it’s because she knows she shouldn’t have to. The punk act’s fast-paced songs and infectious energy captivate concert-goers-turned-moshers. Their message is defiant and they’re touring the country right now to make sure fans and newcomers alike hear it loud and clear.
The Regrettes played at the Subterranean in Chicago’s Wicker Park on November 30 as part of Alt Nation’s Advanced Placement Tour. The intimate, 400-capacity venue made the show feel personal.
Opening acts Micky James and Welles made names for themselves that night. James was reminiscent of past rockstars with flared pants, velvet top and Jagger hairstyle. The New York City native’s theatrical and flamboyant stage persona fused with his raspy vocals to make his set all the more entertaining. Welles was...interesting. Frontman Jeh Sea Wells’ vocals — similar to those of Kurt Cobain — struck the perfect balance between hardcore and mellow rock. However, as a human being he was simply eccentric. At one point he stopped to talk about his dream to reunite a donut and a donut hole, making him the first man to eat a donut (whole?). Weird, but sort of beautiful.
Then without introduction, The Regrettes came on and played one of their newest singles, “California Friends.” The drum’s quick build up followed by the quick strumming of the guitar was the perfect way to hype the crowd up and set the tone for the rest of the night. It only took about 30 seconds for people to start moshing. Girls and guys threw their shoulders and backs into each other while the band gave it their all.
Halfway into their set, Night made a request: she asked the boys to step out of the way to allow for an all-girl mosh pit. Drummer Drew Thomsen hit his sticks together as guitarist Genessa Gariano and bassist Brooke Dickson joined in with 50s-esque background vocals. Night exposed the reality of being an 18-year-old girl when she sang, “I bleed once a month / and sometimes when I shave I get little red bumps / I wear short skirts and sometimes long pants / and I can dress how I want, not looking for a show of hands.” The aggressive pushing, shoving and throwing of bodies into each other confirmed Night’s line that girls can be brave and bold, too.
Later on in the night the band finally played one of their most well-known songs, “Seashore.” The feminist anthem is a big fuck you to any man that has belittled Night just because she’s a young artist in the music scene. She asked the crowd to throw up not one, but two middle fingers when she’d sing, “I'm like nobody else / so you can just go fuck yourself.” The crowd happily complied.
In an instagram post on Nov. 16, the band revealed the release of their new single “Poor Boy.” Following the appointal of Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice, the band said, “we’re releasing this song because we are done with letting abusers walk free.” Night unleashed her frustration and anger before playing the song by saying she was disappointed in the blatant mistreatment of rape victims. She mocked men like Kavanaugh and Brock Turner who have gotten off with a slap on the wrist when she ironically sang, “Poor boy, what you gonna do? / These girls are coming for you!”
The punk band ended their set with what Night called a “ballroom blitz” when they performed “You Won’t Do” at Lollapalooza this past summer. She told the crowd to split itself down the middle and as soon as the song started, both halves crashed into each other. The tile ground shook as teenagers and ambitious adults ran full-speed at one another. Being in the barrage of humans was terrifying, yet liberating. Besides, how often do you get to shove into another person as hard as you can without giving them the Midwestern “Ope, my bad!”
The song ended and the band walked offstage. No “Thank you,” no “Good night, Chicago” — nothing. Clearly they weren’t not done yet. After letting the crowd beg for an encore, Night stepped alone onto the stage to share a new song. For the first time all night, everyone stood in a single spot and watched Night strum her guitar and listened to her deep, isolated vocals. It was the first steady and delicate moment of the night.
After a roaring applause, Gariano, Dickson and Thomsen rejoined Night on stage for their actual final song of the night, “Hot.” It’s arguably the band’s roudiest song. The crowd went hard one last time and attempted to match the band’s lively energy. The heavy feel from the electric guitar and fast-paced tempo from the hard-hitting drums combined to create a fitting finish to their angst-filled set.
In a post-show chat, Night said that so far Chicago was her favorite city on the tour. With as much energy that the crowd gave back, who could blame her?! Chicago would be lucky to have the kickass quartet back sooner than later. Not only do they put on a hell of a show, but they’re also incredibly down-to-earth. When the band took the time to talk to us and snap a quick picture after the show, Gariano tipped her cowboy hat to us. If I had been wearing one, I would’ve tipped mine back.