Reptar is a silly, silly band.
They’re named after a cartoon dinosaur from the Rugrats. The background to their homepage is a ’90s style PC desktop. Their lead singer looks like he’s channeling Billy Madison when he sings. Their saxophonist sports a purple tie dyed shirt proclaiming “Pennsylvania”, their trumpet player’s rocking a straw fedora and their most normal band member, the keyboardist, has shoulder length locks and a sweet ‘stache.
And yet, almost despite themselves, Reptar is a surprisingly together band. They’re fronted by a saxophone and a trumpet. You don’t mess with brass and woodwinds unless you have some serious talent under your belt – and they do. You might find yourself literally laughing out loud at the band when you see them live, but at the same time you’ll be shaking your head, amazed at how tight their performance is and how good they sound – even if they look like a hot mess onstage.
The openers for the night, White Gold, gave a little ode to Reptar that consisted of endearments such as “Reptar … we conquered calculus together.” “Reptar … we punched our way to freedom on our TI-83s lying on your parents’ basement floor.” “Reptar … you made it through middle school one foot at a time in your glitter shoes.” It seemed entirely appropriate for the band – in my mind, Reptar is the class clown who you find out years later found his niche making ice cube trays in the shape of flip phones and made millions.
White Gold deserves a paragraph of their own – led by a tatted frontwoman who ended every song with “siiiiiiiiiiiick” this band is a local Chicago outfit (I really want to write institution here – but since they’ve only been around since 2013 I’ll hold off a couple of years) and so.much.fun. They tout themselves as ‘NOISY DANCE FUN POP’, and that’s exactly what they are. At one point, the keyboardist and the drummer hopped offstage to start a dance party in the crowd/give hugs, and the group ended their set with a birthday dance for their drummer to “I love you always forever”.
Reptar had a pretty solid ending as well – the only complaint I’ve ever heard about Schubas is that the tiny venue makes concert endings really awkward. In order to get on or off the stage, the band has to walk through the crowd, so at the end of the show, they either have to walk through the crowd, then walk back for their encore, or they have to huddle in amongst the crowd, wait an appropriate amount of time, and then get back onstage – long story short it’s just a mess. Reptar decided to forego both those options, and for their encore instead just walked into the crowd, and literally played themselves onto the ground. By the end of the concert the entire band was flat out on the floor, wailing on their instruments. (Can’t you just see it, fifteen years from now, their kids going, “Dad! Dad get up off the floor it’s so dirty! This is so embarrassing!!!) For the moment though, their fans are loving every second of it.