The landscape of Chicago club life is changing, especially with the recent shuttering of Sonotheque and the re-branding of Lava. Smart Bar’s aiming for a little consistency in a business that’s anything but and just announced plans for a new Tuesday
night series, titled Chilled, to be launched February 9. “Basically it’s gonna be a weekly downtempo night. We realized that, first off, there are not any good downtempo nights in the city, and secondly, there are a lot less options these days of things to do on Tuesday nights,” Nate Seider, Smart Bar’s talent buyer, says. “We just really want to do something laidback, more low-key, so the crowd can sit around and not feel so motivated to get up and rage and dance.” Seider used to run his own Tuesday night downtempo series at Moonshine, and picked DJ John Simmons to lead the charge on this new venture. He cites swanky joints Violet Hour and Rodan as models, as the evening intends to draw in the “martini crowd.” “I guess,” Seider says. “We definitely try not to be stuffy, but we just want people more in tune for a nice night out, to sit around and hang with friends and not worry about having to yell over the sound system.” (Tom Lynch)
By Tom Lynch
Here’s an example of how much can change over the course of ten years—Lincoln Park’s Lounge Ax, the premier indie-rock venue in the city, which even had a cameo in the Chicago-shot “High Fidelity,” took its final bow on January 15, 2000, just two weeks into the new decade. By now, it’s unlikely the majority of those who frequently attend rock shows at places like Empty Bottle, Schubas or Hideout were old enough to have ever gone there.
When considering changes and adjustments in all mediums over the last ten years, music offers the most significant transformation, not only here in Chicago but across the globe. Moving into 2010 we’re heavily entrenched in the digital age, as it took iTunes, introduced by Apple in January of 2001, and the iPod, which came in October of the same year, a relatively short amount of time to make over the record industry and put the future of record stores, independent and corporate, in limbo. Goodbye Virgin. Goodbye Tower. It was sort-of nice knowing you. Read the rest of this entry »
As of Saturday, December 19, Wicker Park’s Lava will close down, and reopen in mid-to-late January with a completely new concept. “We’ve kind of reached a point in our lives where we just want to do something different,” says co-owner Phil MacFarland. “We’ve been doing the DJ thing for a long time now, since we were 18. It’s become something where we’re more interested in craft cocktails and mixology.” MacFarland and co-owner Ty Fujimura will be working on a new cocktail menu with master mixologist Peter Vestinos. They’re also making expansions to the craft beer list, in addition to adding more seating room. “We’re going to keep the DJ booth, but it’s only going to be two to three nights a week, and instead of rowdy electronica it will probably be more background music,” MacFarland says. “Our new name is The Exchange, which refers back to this time in the mid 1800s when bartenders were just starting to get into mixology.”
A longtime Chicago favorite behind the decks, Michael Serafini is capable of a frenzied dance floor or a relaxed lounge affair, sometimes in the same evening. As honcho at Gramaphone and a resident at the legendary Boom Boom Room event, there’s little question of his ear for quality house music. Julio Bishop developed his sound over years as a DJ with Chicago’s venerable Soul Foundation crew and now applies his able ear as co-owner of RealDEEP Recordings. His sets blend stomping kickdrums, vibrant basslines and sultry vocal samples. Supported by Droopy’s tech-house skills, this Detox session at Lava looks like a winner. (John Alex Colon)
October 25 at Lava, 1270 N. Milwaukee, (773)342-5282, at 9pm.
The soulful, dance-floor-aimed style of funky house DJ Lady D meets the industrial-minded techno prowess of Gabriel Palomo as Detox embraces the autumnal season. Palomo is no slouch behind the decks, co-founding the sorely-missed 773 techno events and performing/producing as one-third of Kill Memory Crash (Ghostly International). Lady D helms the reborn Chicago house imprint D’lectable and regularly steals the show, most recently dropping science on Bruno Pronsato fans at Sonotheque. DEKKO adds his blend of driving tech-house to the menu, supported by resident DJ Droopy. You’ve waited all month for the free, fourth-Sunday get-down that invites you to “get the weekend out of your system.” (John Alex Colon)
Lady D, Gabriel Palomo and more perform September 27 at Lava, 1270 N. Milwaukee, at 9pm.
Detox is the curious name of the new, no-cover monthly at Lava, which encourages attendees to get the weekend out of their systems before heading back to the grind on Monday. Resident DJ Droopy is joined every fourth Sunday by a team of talented local DJs and special guests, delivering a hefty dose of techno, house and drink specials. The inaugural show includes the tech-house rhythms of local favorite, James Lauer, and a return to the mixer by Chicago house veteran, Chris Gin. DEKKO’s minimal techno weapons will balance the sounds of this relaxed and budget-friendly Sunday affair. (John Alex Colon)
June 28 at Lava, 1270 N. Milwaukee, (773)342-5282.
Blues, Chicago Artists, Classical, Country, Electronic/Dance, Festivals, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Music 45, Pop, Rock, World Music
It’s the economy, stupid.
Not only has the music industry had to adapt to the growth of digital technology and file-sharing, now everyone’s broke and on the brink of fighting for food. This century has not been kind to record labels, record stores and record manufacturers, not to mention the promoters and venues who’ve seen some declines in business due to—you guessed it—the elevating economic crisis. Top that off with the threat of a Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger and a citywide Promoter’s Ordinance, and the fear is very much real. No matter how good the intentions are of all parties, there may not be enough room for the little guy for much longer.
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Most club-goers familiar with Meiotic Promotions’ events have come to expect the most cutting-edge electronic-music artists from around the world performing for a crowd full of techno and house music enthusiasts. This Friday, Meiotic will throw its final monthly Jackson event at Lava before it moves to third Fridays at Sonotheque. One of Meiotic’s resident DJs, the venerable Matthew Martin, will celebrate his engagement, while also contributing a long-awaited DJ set. The crew is hosting a Chicago-centric showcase with sets from local legend DJ Deeon and John “BID” Simmons—two of Martin’s musical influences. DJ Deeon, who is based on Chicago’s South Side, is widely considered the godfather of ghetto house. DJ Deeon has released the freakiest of raunchy, booty-shaking house and juke joints on Chicago’s own Dancemania and Detroit’s Databass. Local favorite John Simmons is one of the hardest working DJs. He maintains residencies all over the city where he excels at performing in a variety of genres such as deep house, techno, nu-jazz, downtempo and more. Expect him to throw down an energetic set of jackin house and techno cuts for this edition of Jackson. (Elly Rifkin)
November 21 at Lava, 1270 N. Milwaukee, (773)342-5282
Nashville may rank among the least likely places where you might expect to find one of techno’s rising stars, yet from the town that brought us the Grand Old Opry comes Oliver Dodd. With a music career spanning the better part of a decade, Dodd has established himself as one of America’s hottest producers. His track “Elevators and Escalators,” released on Deitrich Schonemann’s AddOn Records, has been featured on a number of high-profile DJ mixes by such notables as Richie Hawtin and MSTRKRFT. Dodd’s music takes on a decidedly minimal sensibility without the usual pretensions associated with the genre, delving into electro and techno while maintaining dance-floor credibility in a party-rockin’ atmosphere. Dodd performs alongside Chicago mainstay Frankie Vega and Klectic label guru Jason Patrick, a relatively recent techno transplant from Detroit who has continued to build on his reputation as a top quality DJ and producer in his own right. (Andrew Lochhead)
September 27 at Lava
The promotion heads behind Lava and its monthly house party, Grizzled, are hoping to keep the momentum going from last month’s largely successful West Fest event on Chicago Avenue. The headlining house antics Derrick Carter and The Sound Republic were enough to remind everyone that house music is alive and well in Chicago, even as the summer winds down its joyful, sunny ride. This month, its Belgium’s Massimo DaCosta bringing back the funky, feel-good bass that has shied from the spotlight in recent months. As one half of production duo Vernon & DaCosta, the DJ/producer has bumped his way onto esteemed labels including Aroma, Amenti and OM, to name a few. With his slow smile and composed demeanor on the decks, DaCosta is the kind of performer they never see coming. Before they know what drops, house heads and partygoers alike realize that he’s the kind of DJ who can work a room into a frenzy without ever playing hard. DaCosta’s return appearance to Chicago marks the last Grizzled party at Lava before the night changes its formatting to showcase resident DJs The Sound Republic and Karl Almaria on the first Saturdays of each month. It also marks the last show charging a $5 cover charge. (Jenn Danko)