It’s 2:00 a.m. leaving the nightclub a little tipsy and ears are still ringing. The song “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash is going through your head. You are smiling from ear to ear, but why? Because you just had the privilege of seeing the kick ass band Common Swagger at City Tap and Grille (7320 W Irving Park Road, Norridge, IL).
There is nothing common or ordinary about this rock solid band, but leaving this party you tend to swagger or stagger in not so straight of a line. The music is flowing, drinks are tilted, and your foot is a tapping. Glasses are broken in honor of the party as it isn’t a party until something gets broke. A partier smiles and does a drunken brag, “My bar tab has got to be about $300 by now.” It’s only money.
“Folsom Prison Blues” was probably one of the most true to the original versions of this song ever done. The man in black, Mr. Johnny Cash, would be proud as can be to see this ditty done with justice. The bass thumped around during this performance of sweet perfection.
Bass player Jay Bastian nailed his parts in everything he did. “Santeria” by Sublime just seemed to stick in the mind’s eye. His fundamental skills bring this band such class and style. He provides the right low end in everything he does. He is definitely a true musician. To obtain his nectarous bass sound he uses an SWR cabinet, an Ampeg head, and an active Hartke bass. Nothing complicated or high in monetary cost, he just knows how to obtain a very savory sound. As a lot of bass players go at the instrument with their fingers this man takes to it with a pick. He gives it a better attacking feel, but also has his dynamics dialed in.
A trip back to the 1980’s would not be complete without hearing “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran and “Raspberry Beret” by Prince. Samuel Ibrahim shines on these songs and nails some key parts of these retro gems on guitar as well. His vocal ability is within the tenor range and is very awesome to listen to. His guitar work is interesting as it doesn’t appear he ever uses a guitar pick. He will do a finger picking style that is unique to local area bar bands. His ability and charisma is something to see and proves he is not just another pretty face.
Guitarist Brent Hanson has a look of lunacy on his face similar to the ‘Private Pyle’ character in Stanley Kubrick’s movie Full Metal Jacket. As the man is really far from coming off his rocker, it just appears as though he can come unhinged at any minute. He steals the show with guitar licks on his ax of choice made by G&L. The mighty six string player takes each part very seriously and just screams on every guitar piece he plays. He really grabs you with the Rolling Stones hit song “Paint it Black.” The haunting guitar originally played by Keith Richards was reproduced to perfection. The song will remain in the concert goers’ memory for years to come.
Beating the skins of a four piece kit is Vince Falcone. He can explode during any song or sit back and tap his way through it. He is not there just to make noise. He is the clock, the anchor, and definitely an intricate piece of the band Common Swagger. He and the bass player lock to become a super tight rhythm section. The man can sing and cover the drums all within a single bound. As he really isn’t superman, it just appears so the way he claims each song as his own.
The moment in the show that just claimed the prize was during the Stealers Wheel song "Stuck in the Middle with You" The entire band was solid as concrete on this. As they performed the song, at any moment Michael Madsen could’ve come out and done a crazy dance just before cutting someone’s ear off. For many people this song may never be the same after seeing the movie Reservoir Dogs, but now there are two very fond memories of this one.
The band got people involved during the beer drinking ode Red Solo Cup. Fan participation was mandatory as the crowd was three or four sheets to the wind. So many good songs could be heard at a Common Swagger show such as; “Message in the Bottle” (The Police), Hard Days Night (The Beatles), “You May Be Right” (Billy Joel), and "Forget You" (Cee Lo Green). Whatever the setlist is when this band plays, it will always be a party.
If you are looking for a top shelf cover band to see Common Swagger is it. They are definitely an upper class group of musicians and no where can you really see a better mix of talent. Go and see them live and raise your glass high. Cheers you must say, salute, or la kiem. Drink it down and enjoy the show. They really know how to have a good time.