When Slicks Lounge closed in 2005, it took its weekly Thursday night house event “Wish You Were Here” with it. Since then, some Chicago promoters say the scene’s heady vibe has never been the same.
“Since Slicks closed, I haven’t felt the same kind of excitement of house music in general,” says Hiroki, who helmed the night as resident DJ alongside Diz during its three-year run.
But if the 2005 closure of Slicks left a weekly hole in the underground scene, Hiroki intends to fill it. Partnering with DJ/producer John Mork of new-school house battery The Sound Republic, the two look to bring back the bumping vibe that once gave local Chicago house its swagger. Their platform? “Live Fast, Die Young,” a new Tuesday night weekly that kicks off on April 15 in the muted digs of Empire Liquors.
“I wanted to start a night where the sound of house is brought to light again because I really think it’s lacking in this city,” Hiroki says. “We’re looking to throw a fun party without pretension.”
Classic label founder Derrick Carter ushers in the new night, which includes a branding campaign with the acronym LFDY—echoing back to the “Wish You Were Here” heyday through a series of flyers, designed as vintage Chicago postcards.
“The reference isn’t meant to be an overt one, but we think some people will get it,” says Mork, who designed the promotion concept.
Hiroki says that the Chicago messaging ties into the night’s goal to keep the spotlight focused on local talent. “Someone like John, he gets to play out of town, but never gets to play here,” Hiroki says. “There are really no avenues for underground house to get play on a consistent basis, so we would like to keep it local.”
While LFDY marks the first time Hiroki and Mork partner professionally, the two have ties to the underground house scene that run deep. In addition to his three-year residency at Slicks, Hiroki’s visible presence as a working Chicago DJ has kept him in the mix with underground heads from a crosscut of decades. As an innovator of the new-school house scene, Mork bridges a quirky, funkier style to the scene.
Empire Liquors’ dark, no-frills interior melds it all together. “The venue is suited, the sound is great—there’s the right amount of space to dance and sit down and have conversation,” Hiroki says. “And it’s right in the heart of Wicker Park.” (Jenn Danko)
Hiroki celebrates his birthday at the launch of Live Fast, Die Young, with special guest Derrick Carter and resident The Sound Republic at Empire Liquors, 1566 North Milwaukee, (773)278-1600, on April 15, 10pm-2am. No cover.