In 2019 the Chills returned to Los Angeles for the first time in 23 years with modest hopes of finally putting on a couple of good shows for the folks of Tinseltown. While much has been written about “the curse of the Chills” – which I consider to be a load of bunkum – it was a fact that they had never delivered a killer, career-making show in the so-called entertainment capital of the world. I witnessed what one might politely call a disastrous, career-ending show at the Roxy in 1992, and a ho-hum performance credited to “Martin Phillipps and the Chills” at the Troubadour in 1996.
And that was it until almost a quarter-century later, when Phillipps had literally gained a new lease on life after almost succumbing to hepatitis C. The 55-year-old elder statesman of indie rock – about four years older than Michael Stipe was when R.E.M. broke up – launched a tour of North America with a new crop of eager, young musicians. Would the Chills do what they should have done decades earlier?
The answer’s a bit irrelevant these days. Despite my headline, there’s nothing really left to conquer anymore. The music industry’s a different beast, and Martin Phillipps isn’t the angry young man he (we?) used to be. Let’s just say that nostalgia is a powerful drug, integrity was restored, and the grateful fans were thrilled to see their well-coiffed hero in a vertical stance.
Here are some videos from my crappy cell phone. I probably sacrificed sound for picture. The best sound in any venue is always where the soundman is sitting. (Don Was told me that.)
Remember also that cell phone footage is a feeble substitute for seeing the real thing, which is returning to North America in October.
“I Love My Leather Jacket” –
“Wet Blanket” (excerpt) –
“Pink Frost” (excerpt) –
“Doledrums” (excerpt) –