When you’ve watched a band evolve over the span of a decade or more, it’s easy to be blinded by your own personal biases. But when it comes to Filligar, I often like to take a step back and remember the story from the beginning.
It’s only fair that I open this story with the fact that I’ve known Filligar – which is comprised of the Mathias brothers Johnny, Pete, and Ted and their life-long friend Casey Gibson – since I was a freshman at the Latin School of Chicago. It was the Fall of 2004 and I had recently started classes when I made friends with the guys who would become the band Filligar.
My first true introduction to them as a rock band was when we shared a billing at a battle of the bands in November 2004. I’ll never forget that day. It was the day George Harrison passed away. We all hung out in our school theater’s green room before the show talking about music and whatever else freshmen in high school talk about (though Johnny was in the 7th grade at the time). They went by the name Flipside back then and I’m pretty sure I have their first disc somewhere in my CD collection stored safely in a Chicago attic. But nostalgia aside, these guys have come a long way since the early days of the band.
Their live show is what makes them standout in an over-saturated music market and, on Saturday July 26, they showed the crowd at DC9 exactly that. Not only did the packed house demand Filligar play one more song before they agreed to a one-song encore but when they ended the show for the night, their devoted fans continued to chant for more music.
Never have I felt the floors of DC9 shake as they did that night. I worried for a moment that the ground beneath my feet was about to collapse while Filligar played their staple set-ending tune “Trepador,” which they’ve recorded a couple times between 2008 and 2013. But the floors didn’t collapse and the show ended on a high note. The sheer amount of energy they expel while performing live is infectious and that’s what the room was left with — energy.
The coolest part about being a band for as long as Filligar has is that it leaves opportunities for older material to be resurrected in a new way. Filligar’s got a knack for doing this, which speaks volumes of both their love of writing music together and how much they listen to and admire their fan base. Old gems including “The Observatory,” “Fruit Fly,” and “Apricot Jam” remain a part of the band’s live show despite having been released awhile back.
Now – it’s the steady pulse provided by Pete on percussion and Ted on bass that establishes the hardy heartbeat of Filligar’s tracks. That combined with Casey’s virtuoso comprehension of piano and keys plus Johnny’s strong yet rugged vocals and dynamic guitar solos makes for a live show fans consistently leave raving about. Their set at DC9 was no exception.
Fans didn’t want the show to end that night. They fought as loudly as they could with their words, hopefully chanting for more music. After a certain point, though, the night did have to end. The good news is that this band’s been together for a long enough time that no matter what’s in store for them next, they’ve produced a quality catalog of rockin’ tunes for fans to devour for years to come.