Remember the good ol’ ’80s when alternative bands like the Primitives (later Uncle Tupelo), Sammy and the Snowmonkeys and Symptoms packed ’em in to Belleville’s B Street Bar on Friday and Saturday nights?
“We were playing alternative before there was alternative,” said Steve Reeb, who played bass and sang lead vocals for Symptoms. “The Cure, R.E.M., U2, the Ramones — music with a little edge to it. We played music no one else was playing on the radio, until The Point (105.7) started playing it. That’s when we really became popular.”
U2’s “I Will Follow” became Symptom’s signature song.
“And we always closed with three Ramomes songs. Always,” Reeb said. “And people would stick around for that.”
The Symptoms broke up “more than 20 years ago,” said Reeb, “because it was time to put down the guitars and help take care of the kids.” Now, they want to take you back to those “glory days” with a reunion concert Saturday night at Crehan’s Irish Pub in Belleville.
Reeb, 56, of Shiloh, is now a real estate investor and a St. Clair County Board member. He and his wife Beverly have four grown children. The other Symptoms members are drummer Tom Pearson and guitarist Mark Snyder. Pearson, 52, of Belleville, is a tech for AT&T. Snyder, 53, of Swansea, is a computer consultant.
Not to worry. The three got the idea for the reunion in August and have been rehearsing in Reeb’s basement to get ready for Saturday. “It was every week for months,” Reeb said. “But it’s more lately. We want to get everything just right.
“Funny how some songs just come back, like riding a bike,” said Reeb, who regularly performs in Soulard and the metro-east as a solo acoustic act. “We were a three-piece band, tight and dynamic. We didn’t need a lot of instruments to get the sound we wanted. We did a lot of harmonies.
“We had a different sound than the other bands. The best thing was that people seemed to like us.”
The Symptoms got their start in a battle of the bands on New Year’s 1983 at Little Devils Park. They won. Reeb remembers because it’s the same day and place he met Beverly, the girl he would marry.
“The band needed a bass player and I played bass. It was as simple as that,” Reeb said. “The other bands were jealous because we had our own equipment. We built our speakers. ... It was a great time for bands in Belleville.”
The Symptoms owes its name to an episode of “Leave it to Beaver,” Reeb said.
“Beaver’s dad, Ward, was sick so he had to miss work. Mr. Rutherford called and asked Beaver what illness he had.
“‘I don’t know,’ Beaver said. ‘Doctor says he has the symptoms.’”
What can people expect at Saturday’s concert?
“We will tear it up...,” Reeb said, “songs by R.E.M., U2, The Police, The Ramones and more. I will play an acoustic set at seven. The band will come on at eight.”
Symptoms got together for one night about 13 years ago for Pearson’s 40th birthday. But Reeb is looking forward to this concert even more.
“The good thing about the band is we were friends first. We never argued about music. We always worked things out together. It was always a friendly and enjoyable experience.”
The three had fun catching up with each other’s lives during recent rehearsals.
“But the most fun was to get out and play,” Reeb said. “It still is.
“We’re just three guys who should be out mowing the lawn. But here we go again.”
At a glance
Here’s what you need to know about Saturday’s concert.
- What: Symptoms reunion concert
- When: 8 p.m. Saturday
- Admission: No cover charge
- Where: Crehan’s Irish Pub, 5500 North Belt West, Belleville
- Extra: Steve Reeb will play an accoustic set at 7 p.m.
- For sale: Symptoms 2016 Reunion Tour T-shirts are $15 at the concert.