In the early 1990s, the world was all abuzz with the music coming out of Seattle, but there was a pretty damn good music scene right up I-57 in Chicago.
Sure the Smashing Pumpkins were the front runners to stardom and you also had Local H making a little name for themselves along with Material Issue. But there was also an underground punk scene which was fluorsing with bands like Braid, Cap’n Jazz, Friction, Sidekick Kato; and Mt. St. Helens, just to name a few.
Although short lived (1991-94) Gauge was a powerhouse quartet featuring Kevin J. Frank (guitar, vocals); Neil Sandler (bass, vocals); Ryan Rapsys (drums); and Scott “Gub” Conway (guitar, vocals). In their short time together Gauge released several full lengths and 7-inches to become highly regarded and influential in Chicago’s suburban punk scenes.
Although it’s been 15 years since playing together, the original member of Gauge reunited in 2009 to play a series of shows and it was all captured for prosperity in “Gauge 153.”
The opening of the 50-minute documentry has the band playing live while a chronilogical order of important Gaugen events scroll across the screen. Starting with the first Gauge practice to their first show and first demo recordings a few short months later. They also mention the bad times like Frank blowing out his knee, the time on tour he and Gub didn’t speak for three weeks, and the Ohio show where only 10 people were in attendece. It is all here, the good times and bad times as we remember how groundbreaking Gauge were.
With their post-hardcore style of playing, mixing melody and power, Gauge made a name for themselves with intense live shows. This afforded them playing along side Shudder to Think, Jawbox, Jawbreaker, and Green Day before they sold out.
The qurtet is not patting themselves on the back here.
There are several interviews with friends and bands around the time Gauge was playing including Bob Nanna (Friction, Braid); Quinn Goodwillie (Mt. St. Helens); Tim Kinsella (Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc); Matt Kinsella (Cap’n Jazz, Owen); and Rachael Dietkus (Very Secretay) among others.
Dispersed between the interviews there are several live clips, a massive collction of photos and the band in their rehersal space getting ready for the reunion show – show number 153. There is also a bonus feature which includes show 153 in its entierty.
“Gauge: 153” is a great history lesson when it comes to Chicago post-hardcore music of the early 1990s. The band and their music were pwerfuilly intense and set the bar pretty high for those who would follow them.