As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 


Thursday, November 21

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Congress Theater To Undergo Renovation Lyric Shorts Preview: Opera Highlights at Rush Hour »

Review Sat Jul 28 2012

Review: Refused @ Congress, 7/26

Refused at Congress Chi by Katie Hovland GB.jpg

Refused (photos by Katie Hovland)

Wednesday night I had two dreams about Refused. In the first, they played a short listless set to a 1/10th full Congress Theater. In the other, I drove around Hollywood Hills looking for the show for virtually hours before being told it'd been cancelled. Neither scenario was anything close to my prior experience with Refused live, but I still spent much of Thursday unsure about the evening's show. Questions popped into my head. Would the band be tired on the last date of a US tour? Would it be empty?

First and foremost, the Congress' forthcoming renovation needs to include air conditioning. The heat and humidity were brutal. 4,000 bodies (so much for it being empty) didn't make it better. By the time Refused went on, it was like a sauna. Yet it really didn't seem to affect the energy in the room, at first. A surge of fans plowed toward the front, fists were pumped and lyrics screamed. Frontman Dennis Lyxzén took it all in while bouncing around the stage on adrenaline. For a hardcore punk band, even one that's legitimately seminal, Refused's music has a complexity that doesn't exactly lend itself to guitarists jumping from amplifier stacks. That's where Lyxzén picked up the slack; stacking and climbing atop stage monitors to jump at an opportune moment, mimicking Iggy Pop's iconic crowd walk, creatively abusing microphones, etc. He fed off the crowd through highlights like "Rather Be Dead" and "Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine" before the momentum dipped. Strangely, even a digression for Black Flag's "Police Story" and "Nervous Breakdown" (with opener Off!'s Keith Morris, of course) didn't really stimulate the crowd. Lyxzén then remarked that the next song was called "Refused Are Fucking Dead" ... of heatstroke.

Refused at Congress Chi by Katie Hovland_2 GB.jpg


Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come album was released in 1998. They disbanded soon afterward and have recently reunited for some shows. At a time when band reunions are met with indifference and the typical fan thinks it's all about a cash grab, Refused has made it a point to say, "This means something." As Lyxzén pointed out early Thursday (repeated almost word-for-word from when I saw them in May), their politically-charged non-conformist lyrics were meant to be cynical in 1998 and are accurate now. His pep talk at the end of the show about life not being a rehearsal and the band's gratefulness to fans that still care about them came off as genuine and well-intentioned. Sure, they're probably making more money now than they did the first time around, but they clearly still understand how to put on a performance. (You certainly can't say that for every band who reunites after a lengthy hiatus.)

To close out the night, the band stepped it up to reinvigorate the crowd. The title track from their 1998 magnum opus was one of the best-sounding songs of the set. Even with a short break, they carried that momentum into an encore that received by far the biggest cheer of the night as they began "New Noise." It's been prominent at sporting events and in television programs, and it did not disappoint. In a curious move, they did not end with their most recognizable song and instead went to the building epic "Tannhäuser / Derivè." It started a little slow, but ended with a bang that had a now shirtless Lyxzén and the rest of the band giving the crowd everything they still had. So much for them being tired.

OFF! at Congress Chi by Katie Hovland_3 GB.jpg


GB store
GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

GB store


Featured Series


Transmission on Flickr

Join the Transmission Flickr Pool.

About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
Transmission staff inbox:



Transmission Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15