by Geoff Teach
The heavens aligned this last weekend, and perhaps even God himself smiled down upon a small, self-described “dive bar” and its black-clad and costumed patrons. Ye Olde Town Inn, known affectionately as “YOTI” (pronounced Yo-tee) in the northwest suburb of Mt. Prospect, put incredible bands on display for two straight nights and showed why the little dive bar is quickly becoming one of the best places to see a metal show in Chicago.
Clockwise from top left: Withering Soul, Lords of the Drunken Pirate Crew, and Empyreus
On Friday, October 26th, there was a celebration of life, as Tim Anders, owner of Pitch Black Productions, had a birthday party, and as a gift to himself, he got two of the bands that he manages, Empyreus and Withering Soul, to play, and Lords of the Drunken Pirate Crew were asked to come and loot and pillage the place, also. (On a side note, Eviscretorium were also originally scheduled to play also, but had to cancel due to illness). Withering Soul had not played a live show in almost a year, and even with a new guitar player and a replacement drummer who only had five practices to get tight with the band, they still played all of the wickedest songs off of “No Closure” with absolute precision. Empyreus then took the stage, and completely wowed the audience with their black metal grooves. The hair was flying, the darkness was thick, and the night was an absolute banger.
And on the second day, the Lord said, “Let there be a celebration of life, once more.” Saturday, October 27th, 2012 will undoubtedly go down as one of the best shows in YOTI history. For one night, great bands and great fans got together and filled YOTI for an amazing cause. Eric Erickson, the sound man at YOTI for three years, and well-known Chicago metal family member, tragically passed away in July of this year from an incredibly aggressive form of cancer. His family, in turn, was saddled with incredible hospital and funerary costs. The local metal community decided to say, “Let’s help out the Ericksons,” and held a Halloween benefit show in Eric’s honor. The result was as heartwarming as it was head-banging. Some of the best metal and punk bands that Chicago has to offer agreed to rock the house all in the name of charity, family, and goodwill. First, Speedfreak took the stage and played plenty of their hits off of “Loaded”, including “Mississippi Mud”. Next up was Bill Ura Dik, who are essentially the house punk band, as YOTI is their practice spot as well as their favorite place to play. They played a great show, as it is the essence of punk to play live, and their set was as solid as anyone could ask for. Next, Armored Assault took to the stage, dressed to the nines in costumes that included Father Pindelski, Elliot “The Gimp” Moser, and Jesus Christ Bellino. Costumes aside, though, Armored Assault played an incredible set, that was only interrupted by one of the most poignant moments of the evening. Clayton “Skunk” Beilstein approached the stage and requested that the band hold up their set for a raffle giveaway. Dressed as a Middle-Eastern terrorist, Clayton’s antics and accent gave the giveaway a completely comedic tone. The hilarity of the giveaway, however, then gave way to a wonderful reminder of why we were all there in the first place…Eric’s Erickson’s mother won a nice little relaxing stay at a local hotel. It was a beautiful moment, and very touching to see a bunch of metal-heads on the verge of tears, celebrating the life of one of their own. A few tear wipes and a nice word from Skunk about the guys in A.A. later, Armored Assault continued their aural assault on the attendees, with plenty of great songs off of their latest E.P., “Dead Before Dawn”, and they finished with an awesome version of “Orion” by Metallica. Finally, Kastasyde was able to set-up and blow the crowd away with their covers of Pantera songs, masquerading for the night as The Great Northern Trendkill. Playing titles like “Domination” and “Mouth For War”, Kastasyde left no doubts in the house as to why they’re one of the heaviest, tightest, and most respected bands in Chicago metal today.
Armored Assault (top) and Kastasyde as The Great Northern Trendkill (bottom)
After all was said and done, over $2700 were raised for aid in the medical and funerary costs for Eric’s family (some estimates have the figure even higher). It was an incredible night, one that saw plenty of laughter, hugging, and story-sharing amongst those Chicago metal-heads who could make the journey out. In the end, however, the true reason that all in attendance were there was larger than any great performance by any band or any hilarious moment. It was a night where the Chicago metal-heads banded together as a community…as a family. It was a night where no one in the house could deny the feeling that something beautiful and communal was being experienced….and it was a night where even God himself, with Eric Erickson right at his side, looked down upon the Earth, into a tiny little burgh of northwest Chicago, and smiled with satisfaction and pride at his creation and it’s metal-loving inhabitants.
Armored Assault, Clayton Beilstein, with Eric Erickson’s mom.