Punk in the City is a biweekly feature introducing influential Chicago punk, hardcore, post-hardcore, pop-punk, indie, and rock bands that have had a big impact on my personal musical evolution (and the Chicago scene in general).
When I first listened to them back in junior high, 88 Fingers Louie were the fastest, most in-your-face band I had ever heard. They were just this raw, melodic, speeding punk-rock bullet that I couldn't stop (listening to). The brutal harmonies really got me fired up; as a teenager, 88 Fingers was the perfect band to release a little angst to.
After I'd been part of the punk scene for a little longer, it became clear to me 88FL's earlier recordings sounded strangely like what might occur if Minor Threat borrowed Pennywise's drummer for a few albums. Alas, 88FL were struck down in their prime; shortly following what might still be my favorite punk recording of all time (1998's Back on the Streets), the band called it quits.
Aside from the group's aggressive, cohesive style, 88FL is also known for a powerful, complex bass presence, courtesy of Joe Principe -- yes, yet another future member of Rise Against. Notably, Glenn Porter, future Alkaline Trio drummer, played an early role in 88FL's evolution. 88FL has certainly left a few large footprints in more recent punk rock history -- appearing on infamous comps like Fat Wreck Chords' Fat Music for Fat People and a handful of Hopeless Records' Hopelessly Devoted to You albums.
I don't feel like the group really grew into its own until Back on the Streets, which spotlighted tight drumbeats (and even tighter fills), complicated-but-fun bass riffs, refined vocals, and an all-around upgrade in quality that left the band's rawness intact. The album also spawned the most blisteringly fast song I'd ever heard ("Worst Man Won"), introduced by Joe Pesci's infamous skull-cracking quote from Casino. After that, they dropped a split EP with Kid Dynamite that was short but delicious before breaking up for good.
88FL were an outstanding, influential, and sorely-missed piece of the Chicago hardcore scene, but they left behind a pretty awesome legacy that spawned two of Chicago's most famous punk bands (RA and Alk3). Give 'em a listen below.
"If they only knew / what I have seen and what I have been through. / The truth / is bottled up inside 100 proof."
- 88 Fingers Louie, "100 Proof"