Although Pittsburgh’s instrumental math rock band Don Caballero’s glory days seem to be long behind it, Joyful Noise has honored the still-active group’s memory of a better time with the recording of a Don Caballero show in Chicago in 2003. Founding member Damon “Che” Fitzgerald, at the time having to pull together fresh recruits for the tour, managed to pull off one of the band’s most impressive sets, driving the show with his unmistakable rhythms and energy, able to impress listeners back in 2003 and those just now picking up Gang Banged With A Headache, And Live as their first Don Caballero record.
 
Opening the record with “Fire Back About Your Baby’s New Sex,” the clamorous cymbal tapping sets the pace for the live recording: Che is worthy of the title “The Octopus.” While lightly covered by the songs’ instrumental melodies of distorted guitar and bass, it is Che’s percussive sound that shines through on the record. The first half of the show’s recording focuses on the math rock genre’s interplay of altered time signatures against post-hardcore guitars. On tracks like “And And And, He Lowered The Twin Down” and “In The Absence Of Strong Evidence To The Contrary, One May Step Out Of The Way Of The Charging Bull” (yes, the band has “interesting” track titles), Che alters between his snare drum build-ups, cymbal crashes and double bass drum kicks with ease and fluidity while the guitars follow along with sludgy downward strums and wailing finger taps, leading up to “Delivering Groceries At 138 Beats Per Minute.” Shining through on the album as the momentous showcase for the band’s leader to demonstrate his virtuosity, the track leads to the show’s artful, banging drum outro by none other than Che himself.
 
While the first half of the album’s show focuses on capturing the imagery of Che’s sweaty, soul-pounding energy on a Chicago night, the latter half of Gang Banged slowly allows the guitar and bass to shine through, with less emphasis on the percussive sounds. “Belted Sweater,” a straight-shot track barely clocking at two minutes, serves as a midpoint for the album, attempting to balance the drums’ beating noise with the raw distortion-powered guitar licks. Following the controlled chaos is “Palm Trees In The Fecking Bahamas,” allowing the guitars more of a leading role with technical finger-tapping riffs and melodic pitch-bending without the overbearing force of Che’s percussive skills. Closing the show with “From The Desk Of Elsewhere Go,” the band finishes moderately, only by reviving Che’s drum dominance. As the guitars whimper along, wailing in and out of the track, Che’s cymbal crashes and snare drum begin to carry more than their fair share.
 
As with most bands’ live albums, Don Caballero’s Gang Banged With A Headache, And Live will be most appreciated by the dedicated fans, ones who will appreciate the mid-song banter (“Ooh, do you smell bacon? I never smell bacon.”). For the newcomer though, a better suggestion for a Don Caballero fix would be an auditory stroll down the band’s Spotify page, most likely for any album prior to 2000.