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Story and photos by Andrea Dawn GoforthWhile many Chicagoans either braved the cold to catch fireworks over Navy Pier or watched the Times Square ball drop on TV, a couple hundred people spent their New Years Eve on the south-side of Chicago, packed into Reggie's Rock Club to spend the night with The Smoking Popes. Opening acts started at 9 p.m., including August Premier, The Fold, and Company of Thieves, who all keep the energy high leading into the Popes set.
Lead singer Josh Caterer came on stage around 11 p.m. to set up his guitar, met by shouts from fans repeating his name, "Josh! Josh! Josh! Hey Josh!" Caterer smiled and chatted it up with the crowd while tuning his red Gibson SG. After a 10 minute break the band re-entered, and as the lights went down The Popes kicked into "Not That Kind of Girlfriend." Caterer took some time after the first song to announce that The Popes are currently in the studio recording a new album called This is Only a Test. Fans cheered as he played an intro for a new cut off of the album. "Thanks for cheering even though you have never heard this song before! You're a good crowd" Caterer laughed. The Popes were certainly energetic that night, with most of the band beading in sweat by the third song "Can't Find It." The group finally slowed it down with the tune "Paul."
The Popes didn't neglect the fact that the crowd had chosen to spend New Years Eve with them. A clock bought specifically for the show was hanging off CatererÔ Marshall half-stack guitar amp all night. At about 10 to midnight the group pleased the crowd by bringing out the song every guy wants to hear, "I Just Broke Up With my Girlfriend," which people were shouting requests for all night. The song closed three minutes before midnight, so Josh said he would just keep raising the key of the song until the count down began. Saved by the clock, Caterer was singing "Girlfriend" as high as anyone would ever want to hear him sing when the count down began. Reggie's provided free bottles of Champagne to the crowd, and the Popes started the countdown at 10 seconds till. As the clock hit midnight, the crowd and the band toasted to a new year, and the Popes played the classic New Years song "Auld Lang Syne."
The band kept playing well after midnight, keeping it up tempo and celebratory. The bands and the crowd seemed to have a great time welcoming in 2011 together.
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