Chicago alt-rockers Urge Overkill are celebrating the release of Rock & Roll Submarine, their first new album since 1995’s Exit the Dragon. The quartet may be best known for their cover of Neil Diamond‘s “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” after the track was featured heavily in the classic film Pulp Fiction, but rest assured, these Northwestern alumni are no one-hit wonder. Their debut was recorded by none other than famed musician/producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, PJ Harvey, The Stooges, etc), and followed in the footsteps of Chicago’s burgeoning noise rock scene. Urge Overkill opened for Nirvana on the Nevermind tour, and then for Pearl Jam on the VS. tour, amping up crowds in clubs and stadiums alike. The band members dissolved soon after, some to addiction, some to inter-band feuding, and after a few years the band returned with a revamped lineup. Now, the group’s done limping. With the release of Rock & Roll Submarine, the band’s returned to the noise-influenced punk-leaning rock that made them famous, and what better place to see them than KEXP’s secret stage at the Bumbershoot Music Lounge?
Despite the fifteen year age difference in albums, the band’s vitality endured, as riffs roared and crashed over the ears of a sold-out midday audience. If anything, the band’s age has influenced their sound for the better, with tried and true hands perfectly striking each string to form a seemingly effortless blistering riff. Vocalists Nash Kato and Eddie Roeser traded lead duties (and often shared them), with singing that seemed untouched by time. Despite the uncharacteristic heat, Kato’s shirt never came off during the set like it did during soundcheck, but that didn’t stop the four-piece from rocking out with a set that favored songs from their newest record – although the inclusion of “Rock & Roll Submarine” was a good shout to old-school fans. Also welcome was the band’s onstage chemistry; a blend of banter, in-jokes, and liveliness is a great sign from a band that’s been haunted in the past by feuds. You get the sense these guys really love what they do, and that they’ve been doing it together for a long time. As the band closed with “Mason Dixon,” the crowd roared, as they’re like to do later tonight. Urge Overkill definitely proved they’ve got the power to last.