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DS Show Review & Gallery: Return of Blue Meanies, with The Tossers and Weaker Youth Ensemble (Chicago – 07.22.2023)

Carbondale’s famous sons of ska returned to a rousing welcome back to a home state crowd at Concord Music Hall. They were supported by Chicago’s Celtic kings The Tossers, and by Weaker Youth Ensemble. My first knowledge of Blue Meanies came shortly after I moved to Chicago in 2009. I noticed cool-looking ink on my […]

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Carbondale’s famous sons of ska returned to a rousing welcome back to a home state crowd at Concord Music Hall. They were supported by Chicago’s Celtic kings The Tossers, and by Weaker Youth Ensemble.


My first knowledge of Blue Meanies came shortly after I moved to Chicago in 2009. I noticed cool-looking ink on my new friend Anthony’s arm. It was a Blue Meanies tattoo. Flash-forward 14 plus years and I got my first chance to document the group. I am so happy I was in the photo pit for its return.

The band, founded in 1989, reunited for a rare performance. It was packed; a palpable excitement buzzed through the venue.

The band gave the crowd a night to remember as they tore through the set, playing in their 1995 album Kiss You Ass Goodbye in its entirety. Highlights included “Acceleration 5000,” “Vote No,” “Grandma Shampoo,” “Polka in the Eye,” and “An Average American Superhero.” Blue Meanies also covered Naked Raygun classic “Rat Patrol.” The hyper-kinetic Billy Spunke on vocals and megaphone, changed from a crisp all-white Perry Ellis suit to a more traditional but sharp-looking black suit during the show. His performance, however, remained consistently entertaining with quite a bit of playful banter between Spunke and his bandmates. Hopefully, this will not be as one-off reunion, a sentiment I can safely say most of the crowd likely shared.


Chicago’s The Tossers are one of the most popular Celtic punk bands in the United States. The group’s headliner St. Patrick’s Day performances are legendary for being fun celebrations, lasting hours. The group is far more than a holiday band though and this raucous performance made that clear.

Lead singer Tony Duggins was playing injured with one finger securely bandaged. A week prior to the show, he accidentally severed part of a finger on his left hand. Duggins referenced the incident with humor as some in the crowd showed expressions best described as in the aghast neighborhood. Lest anyone wonder if that would negatively affect his performance, they soon found the answer: no, it did not. Duggin’s growling vocals were as strong as ever, as was his mandolin playing.

The Tossers drove through “Rocky Road of Dublin,” The South Side of Town,” “Emerald City,” “Siobhan,” “Buckets of Beer,” and “Sláinte.” The performance was a lovely complement to returning headliners on this night.


Weaker Youth Ensemble, a two-tone group out of Madison, WI, kicked off the evening with a blaster of a set. It was far more than just the warm-up act as the group kept the crowd in rapt attention. I look forward to seeing this group again!


Please see more images from the show. Thank You and Cheers!


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