Looking for the rockingest places in Chicago
June 11, 2014 7:50 PM   Subscribe

I'll be heading to Chicago this weekend for a vacationy weekend in a new city. I've got an armload of plans for various things to see and do (including the Wax Trax popup shop), but I also wouldn't mind doing some shopping while I'm down there. Suggestions for an alt-culture excursion?

What is Chicago's analog of Carytown in Richmond, or South Street in Philly, or St. Marks Place in NYC? Basically, where are the punk and metalhead record shops and divey bars? I see 'The Alley' is on North Clark, but I'm not sure if that's a standalone place or in the heart of a similar stretch of surrounding shops. Who's got suggestions for a good neighborhood to do some gothy shopping?
posted by FatherDagon to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
That area around the Alley still has some remnants of that sort of thing but it's been super gentrified for quite a while. The L&L is a (the only?) good dive bar around there. Unfortunately Metal Haven closed down years ago. There's Bucket O' Blood in Logan Square but there isn't much else around there that fits the goth/punk/metalhead thing. If indie record stores in general will do there's a couple others in Logan, and there's definitely some divey bars around as well.
posted by evisceratordeath at 8:41 PM on June 11, 2014

Also this IRL might be of interest.
posted by evisceratordeath at 8:53 PM on June 11, 2014

There are a bunch of shops up and down Clark St. geared towards the younger crowd. Lots of smoke shops and tie-dyed clothing, but also Chicago Comics, one of the best comics shops anywhere. Ragstock and Belmont Army Vintage are nearby on Belmont. The neighborhood is not what it used to be. Luckily, the Cubs will be out of town this weekend, so traffic will be bad but not horrendous.

Nearby on Halsted there is or was the 99th Floor. I can't tell online if they're open or not. It'd be worth a call.

Wicker Park was the hip neighborhood for a good stretch of the 90s, and it still has a lot of remnants. It's worth heading down there for Reckless Records and Quimby's (same owners as Chicago Comics). The Beechwood Inn is nearby if you're looking for a bar.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:54 PM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Check out Kuma's Corner. Listen to metal, drink craft beer, and get a band-themed burger (PDF menu).
posted by Boxenmacher at 9:35 PM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

There's still some good stuff in Bucktown/Wicker. Will you be around for any shows at the Empty Bottle?

(I'd investigate but I'm on mobile right now)
posted by a halcyon day at 12:05 AM on June 12, 2014

Response by poster: Kuma's is definitely on the list to check out. I checked around and it looked like the couple shows I wanted to see were through the week before I got up there - Those Poor Bastards, etc.. ah well. Wicker looks like the area to check out tho - is there a good starting spot to wander it end to end?
posted by FatherDagon at 6:03 AM on June 12, 2014

Neo is a club you might want to check out. They cater to the goth/metal/new-wave/post-punk crowds. They also have "brit pop" nights sometimes, so it's a good idea to check their calendar before going if you want to know what you're in for. Here's a way you could make a day of my neighborhood. From the Alley, to ragstock/belmont surplus/hollywood mirror, to Reckless records, Kumas, and Neo.

Other places include:
Cobra Lounge
Exit (I've never been, and some recent yelp reviews say it's fallen off, but who reads yelp reviews?)
Delilah's. My Favorite punk-metal whiskey bar. My wife once asked if they had any Rye, and the bartender replied, "only about 14 kinds right now."

If you're checking out Wicker park, a good starting place is the North/Damen/Milwaukee intersection.
posted by onehalfjunco at 7:33 AM on June 12, 2014

music venues: Reggies, Double Door, Schubas, Metro, Aragon, the vic, the riviera--look em up--someone you might like will be in town maybe! Late bar is also decent and 4am.

Also I recommend the L&L right near the Alley. It was frequented by Gacy & Dahmer and has the best jukebox. The area around the Alley used to be the punk rock hood but now it's pretty widely distributed.
posted by jennybento at 7:55 AM on June 12, 2014

It's very much more on the lofi garage end of things as far as punk goes, but local record store Bric-a-Brac is having a one-year anniversary party in the store on Saturday starting at noon (punk rock time, so the first band will probably start around 12:30-12:45). There's a liquor store kitty-corner and it's BYOB and there will be free pizza and a bunch of bands, but if you're going to be disappointed if there's no dudes in forty pounds of spikes piercing their face on stage and spitting blood or whatever it might not be your scene.

You might wanna check out Bric-a-Brac anyway; it's walking distance from the Kedzie Blue Line stop (which drops you off in the heart of Logan Square so there's a bunch of other touristy stuff around) and it only stocks garage, old school punk, etc so there's some cool 70s reissues and tapes and stuff to flip through. It's less "we have everything!" than Reckless, more "we have very specific taste that you may share."

Seconding Bucket of Blood, Cobra Lounge, and the fact that Wicker Park is basically Hipster Disneyland.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2014

I've been to a few ear-spliting punk shows at The Mutiny (Western half block north of Fullerton in Logan Square). It definitely qualifies as a dive bar. It's a few blocks north of the Western El stop, but if you tire of Wicker Park (which is becoming the territory of the Upright Stroller Brigade), you're only a bit away from that. Quencher's across the street from it has live music and a great beer selection as well.
posted by moitz at 9:46 AM on June 12, 2014

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