Once upon a time, many, many years ago, I moved to Chicago from New Orleans. The very first thing on my "to-do" list was to buy a winter coat and some second-hand sweaters (my first-hand wardrobe was nearly 100% T-shirts). Next on my list was to find out where all the great local rock bands were playing. It didn't take me long to see the glass half full at The Empty Bottle.
The weekly newspapers are full of information about various clubs, but Chicago's so venue-heavy that the search for that "perfect spot" can be overwhelming. It took some serious trial and error to develop my shortlist of venues. Eventually, I found a few places that have grown to become as comfortable to me as my own living room.
This blog series is meant to save our scene's newcomers some time and effort. But it comes with a warning: These haunts can be quite addictive. Rock on at your own risk!
The Empty Bottle is the cornerstone of the Chicago rock scene. It features the best edgy and progressive bands in Chicago and many nationally touring acts. Nearly every notable indie rock/punk band of the last two decades has played this club on their way to superstardom.
It is hard not to make parallels between Chicago's "the Bottle" and New York's infamous CBGB's. Any night of the week, you can usually find throngs of the cities most tasteful hipsters lining up under the Empty Bottle's black awning touting the mantra of "Music. Friendly. Dancing." CBGB's was famous for beckoning the same flock of tend-setting youth.
Upcoming, Must-See Shows
Outer Minds is a Chicago-based, 5-Piece featuring the apathetically enchanting front man Zach Medearis. Their 60s style garage rock (complete with 12-string guitar) delivers a Mick Jagger charm and Rolling Stone's attitude. If you like them, you'll love the other acts on their loacal recrord label, Hozac Records.
This year, Outer Minds made a successful trip to Austin for SXSW and played the much-heralded Pitchfork Music Festival this summer, one of the few local bands.
They play an AIDS benefit at the Empty Bottle on Sunday September 23rd at 9:00pm. An amazing trio, The Runnies, featuring Mary McKane (organist for Outerminds) opens the show.
The past three years of Chicago music might as well be summed up as "The Psych Years." Psych or psychedelic rock is known for its loud pulsing rhythms, meandering song structures and heavily delayed vocals (sorry you won't be able to hear many of the lyrics, grandma). When it is done right, it feels less like a rock concert and more like a tribal "vision quest" experience.
One of the best bands in this sub-genre is called Verma. Their Empty Bottle show later this month may be one of their last shows and one of your last chances to see this kind of music done right.
If you want an rock expeirnce like none other, don' miss Verma on September 28th.