From the Columbia Chronicle
March 22, 1993


by Chris Auman

Hog Lady press photo

At a loft party somewhere in Wicker Park, in a sea of long hair, tattoos, and pierced body parts, Hog Lady sets up shop. Kids are sitting high up on wooden partitions clutching plastic beer cups and bottles of booze. Guitars are picked up, a bass pedal is tested, a cymbal crashes, amps are turned up to 11, the show is about to start. A skinny kid wearing a Kermit the Frog t-shirt and a funky guitar steps up to the mic to make an introduction. "This song is called Painkiller and it's all about how I fucked all your moms last night." The crowd laughs, some of them nervously, hoping he's just kidding. The song starts. The pit swarms, boots stomp, someone in the crowd is pushed to the ground then helped back up only to be pushed down again. The music is frenzied, apocalyptic, strangely hypnotic: guitar, bass, drums, and a scream. Halfway through the song the whole gig is shut down by the Chicago Police Department. Everyone is asked to leave and given a courtesy shove towards the exit. Another Hog Lady show has involuntarily been ended because cops don't know how to boogie.

If you've never heard of Hog Lady, you are not alone. If you've never seen them live, you are missing out. Seeing them live is like climbing an angry wall of sound, slightly satanic, but heavenly for the reality impaired. The band consists of Columbia student Dave Gill; drummer Bob Gregory; bass playing Nick Sondy and of course the lady herself, Tye Coon. The group has been together for a little over a year and a half and has been playing out for about seven months. Small shows, small crowds, but that has been changing, gradually, with a growing reputation.

For Gill, playing live demands that you "get out of the way of yourself." It calls for assuming a different persona. It requires leaving yourself for just a little while in order to get "it" out. "It" is whatever it is that is keeping you down.

For Coon, Hog Lady is just that, an outlet. "It's not like I'm this raging maniac 24 hours a day," Coon said (although the rest of the band would disagree). "But I do have my sessions. That's what Hog Lady is for me, getting the shit out."

Don't be frightened and don't get the idea that they're only self-serving. It's more than just therapy for the band. Coon encourages people who come to see their shows to get their aggressions out too. She wants people to "bust heads, stage dive, spew, drool, do whatever it takes, then you walk away a lot saner, a lot happier person. You're better for the world."

Hostility isn't the only form of release. Sondy insists that Hog Lady shows "aren't that angry all the time." And according to Gill, that isn't necessarily the image they want to project. "We're so in your face all the time, we don't want to give that kind of impression all the way, that we're totally insane," Gill said. "People want to have a good time (at our shows), but sometimes we're just too demanding of attention."

It's all about attitude. It's all about making a hog of yourself and going to the extreme on anything. Hog Lady is just one of the seemingly infinite number of new underground bands surfacing in the wake of an alternative music revolution, which tends to exclude the completely abrasive sounds in its more commercial ventures. But Hog Lady would like to distance themselves from grunge and the rebirth of punk rock. Call them grunge and they'll laugh. "I guess we're down with that," Gill said. "We're definitely not clean, but we're a rock'n'roll band and almost all grunge bands are rock'n'roll bands. It's not a new thing, it's an old thing." Punk rock? "I used to be a hardcore skater kid, and if it wasn't punk rock, I wouldn't listen to it. Now I've listened to it so much I just don't need it anymore."

The group draws inspiration from a wide variety of music. Anything from Ice Cube to Coltrane, Sun Ra to Black Sabbath and Miles Davis to the Melvins, it all gets in there somehow. Their sound? "Somewhere between Texas and New York." Their shows? "A sweaty cool time." Their songwriting techniques? "Someone will say, hey, I did this thing and then we all do our own thing with that thing and it becomes one thing." Favorite character on M*A*S*H? Doesn't really matter, but in essence what is Hog Lady, really? "An enema, a cleansing of the soul," and "a really sore throat," Coon says. Hog Lady, along with other Chicago underground darlings such as Trenchmouth, Wickerman, and Godbox will be appearing on Pressure Cooker, a soon-to-be-released compilation of local bands, "a thumbnail guide to the Chicago Underground" from Furball Records. You can purchase the Hog Lady tape at Ear Wax, Reckless Records or at their shows. They will play with Godbox and Stumbleblock this Thursday, March 25 at Lounge Ax, 2438 N Lincoln Ave.

© 1993-2020 Chris Auman