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Photos: Chicago-Based Local H Hit A&R Music Bar

Matt Ellis Matt Ellis Photos: Chicago-Based Local H Hit A&R Music BarPhotos by Matt Ellis.
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I first arrived in this land I now call home in the late 90s, during the inescapable alt-rock radio revolution that pushed all other musical genres to one side as bands like Bush, Everclear, Lit, No Doubt and The Offspring (to name just a few) had their many days in the sun. It was during this time that I first heard the sounds of Chicago-area two-piece Local H in the form of their lead single “All the Kids Are Right,” from the overlooked masterpiece Pack Up the Cats.

But, while many bands from that era are now relegated to nostalgia tours and state fairs, performing as shadows of their former selves, Local H appear to be thriving. Recent years have seen Ryan Harding take over on drums, and a reenergized Local H have bounced back from years of playing under the mainstream radar. They released the back-to-basics rocker Hey Killer, headline sold-out anniversary shows in their home town and across the country, and even open up for metal megastars, Metallica. Not bad for a band over 27 years on the clock.

As one of the albums that helped shape my early days in Ohio, you can probably imagine I was pretty happy to hear the band were not only touring their third release, Pack Up the Cats, for it’s 20-year anniversary — they would be stopping by Columbus for a show at the A&R Music Bar.

Short history of the album: released in September of 1998 on Island Records, it should’ve nailed Local H further into 90s rock history. Yet, unfortunately the album’s landing coincided with Polygram, the parent company of Island, merging with Universal and leaving the album as a forgotten release that didn’t get the promotion it certainly deserved.

Fast forward 20 years, and sticking with what worked during the last anniversary tour, Local H opened up for themselves and jumped straight into “Buffalo Trace.” They then preceded to cherry pick songs from their extensive back-catalogue, including fan favorites “Fritz’s Corner” and the mosh-pit starting “High-Fiving MF.”

A short break followed, and before the headliners, Local H came back on stage, in pajamas, to play …Cats from start to finish, fully recreating the dynamic breaks and interludes they used to great effect on the record.

The band closed out another epic evening of nothing but Local H with album closer “Lucky Time,” before returning for a short encore.

And with a new single recently released, a European live album just a few months old, and teasing of a new studio album possibly around the corner, it would appear that the future looks bright for this late-20-something band that refuses to stop.

Matt Ellis is a freelance photographer who covers bands that visit the city and the Columbus Crew MLS team. More about Matt can be found at Matt Ellis Photography.

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