By Jenn Danko
Forget bottle service—Chicago is digging deep into the underground music roots that gave it its famed swagger. The reopening of two of the city’s most respected underground music clubs signifies much more than the second coming in chi-chi night clubbing. In fact, the only designer labels guests are likely to find at these spots include names like Classic, Large and Fetish.
Look for the former Red Dog to reopen its doors under the new moniker, Ohm, on November 17. A revamp-in-progress for more than a year, the new space keeps the same company above Tavern (formerly Borderline) at 1958 West North. This time, the lounge gets a double-decker billing, incorporating two rooms of sound with an industrial, Chicago flair.
“We’ve redone the place to give it a classic Chicago look,” says Arman Razavi, Ohm marketing manager.
Razavi also acknowledges the historical significance of the defunct Red Dog, which closed its doors in 2004. For years, the space was home to some of the best house nights in the city, showcasing living legends like Chicago-native-turned-Om Records-artist, Johnny Fiasco.
Still operating under its original owners, Razavi says guests will have more music options than before, thanks to an additional third level. While house music may remain the centerpiece in the main room, the third level will feature DJs spinning everything from minimal and micro house to techno and drum ‘n’ bass.
“We wanted to reinvent the concept of the space but still keep its musical integrity,” Razavi adds.
Through his Music 101 promotions juggernaut, Razavi & Co. has successfully hosted underground electronic events across the city for years, including famed nights at Le Passage, Crobar and—most notably—Monday night’s Boom Boom Room at Green Dolphin Street. He hopes to carry the vibe into the new space. On the decks, Chicago’s classic sound gets prime billing with rotations by Brian Gardner, Jesse De La Pena, Uncle Milty and Mark Grant, to name a few. Look for Ohm to also showcase the bumpier styles of Chicago’s new school jack movement. “We’re open to a lot of different sounds,” Razavi says.
Ohm hosts its grand-opening party on November 17. Call (773)278-5138 for details or visit www.ohmnightlife.com.
Wicker Park’s Lava has been another progressively forward music mecca since the 1990s. When it closed in spring 2006, co-owner Phil McFarland knew he was going to reopen the space—he just didn’t know when.
Now the new Lava is setting up shop at 1270 North Milwaukee and will open sometime between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, McFarland says.
Formerly located at 859 North Damen, the forthcoming, 1,700-square-foot space is newly built from the ground up. No longer split into two separate rooms, Lava will be reborn as a one-room club dotted with modular furniture.
“We can make it a more intimate space with seating and tables or open the floor for a bigger event,” McFarland says.
While the space may be brand new, the gritty charm of the old Lava will remain intact. Cement bar tops and minimal color keep clubby aesthetics at a minimum. “We have been careful not to make it too fancy,” McFarland assures.
The music that gave Lava its artistic teeth also remains the same. Lava music director Brian Sarpalius (aka Phantom 45) says some of the club’s resident nights will return, including Wednesday night drum ‘n’ bass (The Seminar) and The Sound Republic’s Saturday house monthly (Grizzled). Resident DJs John Simmons and Frankie Vega’s BOTS will also return.
“The layout should be very user friendly,” McFarland says. “We will have a lot more AC and a lot more bathrooms.”