Chuck Ragan & Sharks (Day Off Social Distortion Tour) – REVIEW

During their day off from the Social Distortion tour, Chuck Ragan and Sharks, performed on the Mayne Stage in Chicago. You can check out our review after the break.

Chuck Ragan & Sharks (Day Off Social Distortion Tour) – REVIEW

During their day off from the Social Distortion tour, Chuck Ragan and Sharks, performed on the Mayne Stage in Chicago. You can check out our review after the break.

As the Social Distortion North American Tour took a day off before its Indianapolis date, the supporting acts played an intimate show on the north side of Chicago on May 5th. Chuck Ragan, an American musician, song writer, and former Hot Water Music lead singer, and the UK based puck rock band Sharks put on a very personal show for those who looked a little deeper in to the artists’ tour dates. They were also supported by a Chicago local eight-piece group, “The Elephant Gun”, who had a unique hardcore and metal rooted folk sound.

Walking into Mayne Stage, you immediately got a different feeling knowing the show was not going to be a huge crowd of 1000. With very nice staff and a small full service bar you got a very comfortable vibe from everything around. Entering into the venue, there were plenty of booth style seating on the walls and a few VIP booths along the back; it was very easy to be relaxed.

The first act from the tour package to go on was the punk rock band Sharks.  They immediately got right into it with the punk driven drum beats, heavy bass lines, and shouting vocals song “Trains”. As the set went on you could tell they had a lot of influence from bands like Rancid and Alkaline Trio with well put-together chord progressions, bass licks and flowing guitar leads.  Half way through their set,Chuck Ragan came out of the crowd (note: not from backstage) to jump on vocals with Sharks, which really encompasses the family-like bond that touring bands gain on the road. While playing “It All Relates,” I was reminded of The Gaslight Anthem, which really shows their sound is not a dying trend.

Chuck Ragan stepped onto stage with his guitar and an impressive assortment of harmonicas, joined by Jon Gaunt sporting a fiddle and Joe Ginsberg on stand up bass.  With a set list of about twenty songs, Chuck Ragan was very warm on stage, talking to the crowd and even taking some requests after being persuaded. Listening to all of Chuck Ragan’s albums gives you an idea of what kind of guy he is, but seeing him live reinforces his personable attitude and family man appeal. He really shows his talent of live performance by belting out his lyrics on all his songs. Chuck Ragan really got the crowd singing on certain songs like “Rotterdam” and “Do You Pray.” The one song that really ties him to the Social Distortion tour and opening band Sharks was the audience requested “Bleeder” cover by Alkaline Trio. The interaction between Chuck and the crowd was beyond what I have ever witnessed, though it may be the intimate setting of Mayne Stage that makes it easy to do. Ragan puts on a show like no other that will stay on the conscious of anyone who has the privilege of seeing him. No big stage lights, no fancy transitions between songs, and no theatrics: just Chuck Ragan with a guitar and a couple back up musicians. From the very friendly guy at the merch table, taking pictures and signing records—to the confident musician on stage with no apparent fame agenda, Chuck Ragan is out on the road for his fans, hoping to meet as many people as he can and consistently succeeding at bringing quality music to his dedicated crowds.

I would love to meet the person who decided these bands would play well together.  In theory, it sounds strange, but anyone who appreciates Chuck Ragan’s roots in Hot Water Music could have predicted that they would also appreciate the English punk that is Sharks. This show was one that I will never forget and will make me keep checking back to see the next time Chuck Ragan and/or Sharks will be in town.

Information about the review…
Tour: Chuck Ragan and Sharks (Day Off the Social Distortion North American Tour)
Artists: Chuck Ragan and Sharks
Date: May 5, 2011
Venue: Mayne Stage in Chicago, IL