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).
I can still vividly remember Tony Duggins' stark transitions between songs. He would sing a rousing Irish drinking tune, whether an old Gaelic spiritual or a Tossers' original, without a hitch. Then, the music would stop and the slurred words would run together into vague ramblings. I remember thinking, "Holy shit. This guy is sloshed."
On another occasion, my friend Brendan actually convinced Tony to ask a friend of ours (Katie), who was also attending the show, to prom for him. Tony obliged, and Brendan had a date.
The Tossers are a six-piece Celtic folk-punk band from Chicago that play Irish ditties similar to the likes of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. The group has gained notoriety since they signed with Victory Records in 2005. But what most don't realize is that the Tossers have been playing the Chicago scene since the early 90's.
Similar to DKM's relationship with the city of Boston, the Tossers exemplify the spirit of the Chicago Irish population, which is considerable. Drinking anthems, homeland culture, and brute working-class sincerity are all staples of the Tossers' sound. Ask anyone who is plugged into the Chicago scene: the Tossers are hometown heroes and tested veterans of the circuit.
The Tossers are more vicious with acoustic guitar, fiddle, and tin whistle than most bands with a wall of amps and heavily distorted guitars. Check 'em out below.
"I used to wonder where my da was at night / When him and ma would start to fight / Out soaked in 95th street beer / It was the strap I had to fear / As he would prowl around the Southside at night."
- Tony Duggins, "Teehans"