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Off With Their Heads’ “Spare Parts”: A Weird Show That Definitely Worked

“We wanted to put something weird together and I think it worked,” said Ryan Young, front man for Off With Their Heads as “Spare Parts West: An Evening of Comedy and Music” came to a close in Lombard, Illinois February 2.

The night began with several comedians, each doing stand-up for ten minutes or so. Then we got to hear Spells, The Bollweevils and Off With Their Heads.

And it definitely did work.


I had to miss most of the comedians but caught some of J.T. Habersaat, who kept me laughing. His bit about being so drunk he decided to make a Monte Cristo sandwich at 2:00 a.m. was particularly good. (This Wikipedia entry references regional variations on this fried ham and cheese sandwich -- he talked about the Midwest version, which is topped with powdered sugar and sometimes maple syrup.)


Next up was Spells, a Denver self-described “vacation rock” band. That’s an apt description for their music, although I might have gone with “vacation punk” because it was mostly punk-sounding. I would estimate that their singer spent more than half of the set dancing with the audience – and interestingly, although their music wasn’t ska, people were mostly skanking. Here’s a shot of the rest of the band in matching shirts and shoes playing without him.

The Bollweevils

Home town band The Bollweevils are one of those bands you’ve got to see live. Front man Daryl Wilson is six-foot-five and has equally lengthy dreadlocks. He’s always very engaged with the audience. I think I personally made eye contact with him about four times during the show. As he took a swig of Slivovitz, he said it was to him like spinach is to Popeye – and here’s a nine-second video showing the result.

The Bollweevils got started in the nineties but broke up for quite a few years after Daryl became an emergency room doctor. But apparently he missed the punk scene so much that he finds time for it in addition to his professional duties. (I’m sure he and Deniz Tek could swap some good stories.)

Off With Their Heads

Off With Their Heads has been doing a lot of acoustic sets lately, but the Lombard show was what they called “full band.” I’d never seen them before but had been wanting to for a couple of years and really enjoyed it.

There are bands that have great musicians with a singer that has a great voice but their material just doesn’t grab me. There are other bands with great material but the singer’s voice leaves something to be desired. And then there are bands like Off With Their Heads that have it all.

Brauerhouse Lombard

It takes a lot to get me to go to a show outside the Chicago city limits. I don’t mean that in a city-people-are-cooler-than-suburban-people kind of way. I just don’t like driving on the expressway for 45 minutes through areas I don’t know and looking for street names and addresses in the dark. But I opted to make the drive to Lombard rather than seeing the “Spare Parts” event in Chicago the next night because Chicago was one of the acoustic shows and since I’d never seen Off With Their Heads before, I wanted to see them in their usual form.

Now that I’ve finally made it to Brauerhouse, though, I would definitely go back. It’s so suburban it’s in a strip mall, but the good thing about that is everything else in the mall is closed by the time their shows go on so there’s plenty of parking. And I have to admit it was nice only having to walk a hundred yards or so to my car afterwards.

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