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Howling At Dead Moon's Empty Bottle Show

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 13, 2015 3:00PM

Dead Moon's career has been built and sustained by grit and sheer determination, and as a result the band developed a rabid cult following. That grit and determination was in full display during Friday's night show at Empty Bottle.

It had been long time since Dead Moon last played in Chicago, and just before the band hit the road for a handful of shows, drummer Andrew Loomis became ill, preventing him from traveling and performing with the band. So Fred and Toody Cole called on their pal Kelly Halliburton, who plays with the couple in Pierced Arrows, to help. It was too bad Loomis couldn't make the trip from Clackamas, Oregon, but it was either bring Halliburton along or cancel the shows. We'll take the shows, thanks.

Fred Cole had open-heart surgery in 2014, and he and wife, Toody, are on the doorstep of becoming septuagenarians. They used their own lathe to cut their own records, and started their own label to distribute them. Dead Moon has been a model of the DIY ethos since their formation in 1987, and it is that determination that propelled them through their set Friday night.

Dead Moon blasted through their set of unusual country-fried, punk rock with gothic overtones. They ran through the stable of crowd pleasers like "Dead Moon Night," "Dead In The Saddle," "Dagger Moon" and "I Hate The Blues" for about an hour.

Fred Cole was able to capture his unusual guitar tones that we hear on Dead Moon's albums and his odd style of playing is still full of character and color, even if it isn't what one might describe as sharp or maybe technically savvy. Toody Cole's bass shook the whole the room, and Halliburton was obviously very comfortable playing third wheel to the married couple's rock 'n' roll train, and filled in more than capably for Loomis.

Dead Moon has a few hiccups during the set, with a false start here or there, coming in a little late, or dropping a beat now and again. But when the band brought it all together, there was a real sinister magic emanating from the stage. Despite those flaws, the trio played with sense of urgency and, again, determination keeping the energy up.

When they came out and launched into "It's OK" for their encore, the capacity crowd went berserk, singing along and became enraptured in the stand-out tune from Dead Moon's catalogue for its positive and beautiful message.

Seeing band go through all that adversity and still create something with that kind of impact was inspirational.

Dead Moon also performed at West Fest on Saturday, and it isn't an exaggeration to suggest that this might be the last time we see the band perform in Chicago given the fact they have played just a handful of times since they officially split in 2006. The health issues the band members are experiencing and Father Time seems to be catching up to them. It's a little sad to think about it, but if it is the last we've seen of Dead Moon, they left on high note and we'll miss them.