Still riding the wave of its 30th anniversary, former Wax Trax! hub and venerated venue the Metro prides itself on the “little moments” in ‘90s rock history. The “in memoriam” reel of American rock venues is a drawn-out tearjerker. So many clubs that shaped the musical landscape of the ’70s, ’80s, and ‘90s ended up yanking out the mic cable and unplugging the smoke machine for good. Neighborhoods shift, new neighbors complain about the noise, and suddenly CBGB is a boutique selling $200 Italian-leather pants. This soggy burial is not what awaits the Metro. For more than 30 years, owner Joe Shanahan has had both the industry know-how and the passion to make the Metro flourish. He cares more about the music than the hype, and so does his familial staff of music-loving misfits. He’s kept the place independently managed and stuck to his club’s mission: to bring emerging artists from local, national, and international scenes to Chicago audiences. The Metro’s massive stage—big enough to fit three Polyphonic Sprees—remains the apex for most aspiring Chicago bands. Joe and his team treat all acts with the same respect, and that attitude has helped the Metro not only become integral to the Chicago music scene, but also a place to see bands on the brink of making their big break. In fact, it’s that particular role of the Metro that most endears it to publicist Jenny Lizak: “To me, the spirit of Metro is not in the major history-making shows with high-profile acts that everyone remembers ... [It] is all of those tiny moments that happened before the history-making ones. The first time the Pumpkins played to a tiny crowd, the first time Nirvana toured, all the tiny moments that happen at Metro before someone becomes huge and famous.” In 1982, the Metro started off as Smart Bar, which now resides in the building’s basement. As a dance club, it started drawing audiences to the DJ talents of Frankie Knuckles, and it was often privy to the latest works from industrial-metal band Ministry—before Al Jourgensen found his drill. The Metro’s famed “big room” went unused until Joe booked emerging rockers R.E.M. for a show that led to even bigger, more successful events. After the venue took over the big room for good, it was known as the Cabaret Metro and started attracting bands from across the pond, including New Order, OMD, and Depeche Mode. It also pulled in American-bred acts such as the Ramones, the Replacements, Butthole Surfers, and before long, James Brown. Although the Metro has offered its stage to plenty of out-of-towners, it has never lost its love for the hometown acts that made it famous. As gracious host to the artists of Chicago’s Wax Trax! Records, the Metro helped usher in industrial music, launching electro-throbbers such as Front 242 and Ministry. For Chicago natives, this is all old hat, but for others, it’s the stuff that wore out their Discmans.Read More
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Charter One Pavilion in Chicago offers flavorful eats and tasty desserts. Charter One Pavilion also features live music and dancing.
Festival season, also known as summer, is an exciting time—bands and fans come together to rock out in the sunshine or really, really unwelcome rain. To make it through the festivities with all your toes intact, here’s an abbreviated music festival survival guide.Stay hydrated. Beer doesn’t count.Drinking water beforehand is essential, but you should keep chugging (H2O, not booze!) during and after the festival too. And keep an eye out for the symptoms of dehydration: dizziness, heart palpitations, and little cartoon flames inside your eyes all indicate that something’s not right. You’ll want to get some shade, water, or help from a first-aid tent, lest you topple over onto someone else’s picnic blanket.Don’t be so quick to dismiss the value of steel-toe boots.If you’re lingering toward the back of the masses, it might be safe to wear flip-flops, but if your plan is to get up front, closed-toe shoes are the way to go. Hobbling to the medical tent is a lousy way to miss the encore.Keep your wits (and friends) about you.Remember to indulge with moderation, pace yourself, and have a blast, but not so much that you can’t make smart choices (or operate Instagram properly). Failing all else, use the buddy system: make sure you and a friend are keeping an eye on each other or sharing a pair of three-legged pants, and arrange for a place to meet up at the end of the evening in case you get separated.Trash cans are a hot spot for The Enemy. Bees love trash cans. They love trash cans, and they hate you. This cannot be overstated. Get in, deposit trash, get out.Illustration: Jess Snively, Groupon.Read More
The people at The Simple Good believe that enacting change in Chicago is, well, simple: art makes people feel better and helps them discover the beauty within themselves. The nonprofit organization adheres to this creed by curating public art projects and youth art programming. On Saturday, July 19, The Simple Good will take over The Chop Shop's 1st Ward space to unveil its latest project, City of Big Dreams. A self-described “pop-up showcase," the event will unite "five different mediums of art under a single inspiration, ‘the simple good of Chicago.’” While the evening will showcase a mural from international street artist Czr Prz, as well as a string quartet and opera chorus, the centerpiece is a brand-new poem from Grammy-winning spoken-word artist, musician, and South Side native Malik Yusef. “The poem is called ‘Nobody’s Smiling’ [and] sheds light on what I feel is an epidemic proportion of violence that’s happening in Chicago,” he said. “Not that we don’t live in a violent world, but the fact that it’s so centralized and concentrated in Chicago is really scary.” Yusef experienced this tumultuous environment firsthand growing up on Chicago’s South Side, specifically in the “Wild 100s” section of Roseland. According to him, the violence stems from an even bigger-picture issue than just gangs or drugs. “[It] has a lot to do with posttraumatic stress syndrome,” he explained. “Also pollution and toxicity levels. Our toxicity levels affect brain workings, and brain workings affect decisions that are being made, so [my] poem is trying to shed a little bit of light to that.” It’s a theme that’s been explored extensively in Windy City hip-hop, especially in the past decade. “Some of the music you hear coming from Chicago with Chief Keef and Lil Durk—that’s the sound of escaping from a burning building. That’s what poverty’s like. It’s like being in a burning building.” As grim as that sounds, the emphasis for Yusef is on the word “escape,” something he was able to do while still keeping his roots planted firmly in the place he grew up. “There’s another side of the hardship. There’s another side of the coin. There’s an alternate universe you can come through,” he said. “When I walk into a place and kids say, ‘Wow, this dude was gangbanging just like me. He struggled like I struggled. His father got laid off like mine got laid off. And despite those things, he made the decision to make it, then went about requiring the resources,’ which [are] mainly just people. Humans have always been humans’ greatest resource.” One resource early on for Yusef was fellow Chicago musician (and former GOOD Music labelmate) Common, who was featured on both of his solo albums. Yusef might be returning the favor by lending “Nobody’s Smiling” to Common’s upcoming record, the similarly titled Nobody Smiling. “I don’t know if it’s a go yet, but [Kanye West and Common] are talking about putting it on the album,” Yusef said. “The album comes out the 22nd and our event’s the 19th, so [City of Big Dreams] might be like a free preview. This will actually be the first time it’s performed in public.” City of Big Dreams takes place at 1st Ward Events at The Chop Shop (2033 W. North Ave.) in Wicker Park on Saturday, July 19, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here. Interested in doing good in Chicago? Check Groupon Grassroots for ways to get involved.Read More