Juzt Nutz – Yes, They Are!

When a member of a band has a heart attack three weeks before a show, you’re not quite sure what to expect.

Well, that’s not quite true. You expect that there will be no show.

Unless it’s Juzt Nutz. And this band is appropriately named. They’re freakin’ insane.

I’ve been corresponding with this Chicago band for the last couple of months. They’ve been particularly supportive since I was mugged and frequently check in on me. So when they had a gig at Weeds (1555 N Dayton, 312-943-7815) I had to meet them! (Besides the fact that I like their music.)

Weeds is a small bar near North and Halsted. It’s one of those Chicago bars that’s kind of like your grandmother’s house, in that stuff has accumulated over the years and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. At first there’s a Native American feel (in a stereotypical sense). There were Navajo blankets on the bar, masks on the wall, and the bartender was a tall dark-skinned man with sunglasses and a ponytail who obsessively lit a new incense stick each time the last one went out. Then you notice the clothesline with dozens of bras hanging over the liquor bottles. And the pool table pushed against the wall with an enormous plastic pumpkin with “TIPS” in magic marker on masking tape. Their draft selection reinforced the confused character of the bar: Bud Light and Bells Oberon.

As we walked into the bar, my buddy Mike and I were immediately blown away, and by the end of the night felt like we’d been sitting through g-force winds. Have you heard DJ’s proclaiming there’s face-melting guitar on “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers? I have. I’ve waited for it. And waited. At the very end, there’s a guitar lick that I’ve noticed only because I was told to notice it. It’s OK.

If you want your face melted off, there’s no waiting with Juzt Nutz. Every song, every single song has overwhelming energy. It’s not just Bailous on the guitar. It’s Derrick on the bass and Al and William going back and forth between vocals and drums. These guys are having fun and it’s infectious. Sometimes I was reminded of Van Halen, sometimes Jimi Hendrix. At all times their energy kept me off the barstool and there wasn’t a moment where I could just sit on my heiny and drink my beer.

I had to keep reminding myself that William had a heart attack just three weeks ago! He wore a Superman t-shirt during the first set as a message to their manager that he was a man of steel. (Yes, it is soaked in sweat.)

Because I’d corresponded with Juzt Nutz, and they treated me like a rock star (even playing “The Roctopus” again because I was late – sorry guys), I’ll admit that my viewpoint might have been a little skewed. I realized it wasn’t by Mike’s reaction. He’s a guy with very definite opinions. If he likes something, you know it, and if he doesn’t like something, you definitely know it. He operates in superlatives.

He liked these guys. As we walked out of Juzt Nutz he turned to me and said “I’ve never seen anybody do what he could do with a guitar.”

They’ll be playing at Dugans sometime soon. I’ll definitely let you know when, and you know I’ll be there! But I’m going to rest up, eat my Wheaties, and befriend an EMT beforehand.


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