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The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing

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Cheap drinks, bathroom grafiti, and formidable performances have ruled for nearly a quarter of a century at Chicago’s Empty Bottle. From this collection of photographs, interviews, and essays culled from a community of music fans, bartenders, booking agents, bouncers, and underground musicians emerges a kaleidoscopic history of this influential hole-in-the-wall rock venue, Cheap drinks, bathroom grafiti, and formidable performances have ruled for nearly a quarter of a century at Chicago’s Empty Bottle. From this collection of photographs, interviews, and essays culled from a community of music fans, bartenders, booking agents, bouncers, and underground musicians emerges a kaleidoscopic history of this influential hole-in-the-wall rock venue, named one of "The Best Rock Clubs in America" by Rolling Stone. Featuring a foreword by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats and first hand interviews with members of The Flaming Lips, Interpol, Low, OK Go, Vandermark Five, Girl Talk, The Rapture, Red Red Meat, The Sea and Cake, and more, as well as rarely-seen, full-color photographs and reproductions of original silkscreen gig posters, this collection is the tell-all confessional from a bar with countless stories to share. Each anecdote is an opportunity to relive experiences that seem conceivable only at the Bottle: watching The Flaming Lips play for a capacity crowd; shooting pool with Krist Novoselic of Nirvana; standing ten feet away from Arcade Fire as they perform a show that could be best described as a “spiritual tent revival for secular indie rock fans.” Those who choose to read the book cover to cover will find that many of the stories intersect and mutate, remarking on the complexities of memory, giving in to the growing older, and what it means to look back on a particular time in your life and realize you were part of something bigger than yourself. As musician and contributor Bobby Conn remarked, "It's not really the place. It's everyone making it happen there."


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Cheap drinks, bathroom grafiti, and formidable performances have ruled for nearly a quarter of a century at Chicago’s Empty Bottle. From this collection of photographs, interviews, and essays culled from a community of music fans, bartenders, booking agents, bouncers, and underground musicians emerges a kaleidoscopic history of this influential hole-in-the-wall rock venue, Cheap drinks, bathroom grafiti, and formidable performances have ruled for nearly a quarter of a century at Chicago’s Empty Bottle. From this collection of photographs, interviews, and essays culled from a community of music fans, bartenders, booking agents, bouncers, and underground musicians emerges a kaleidoscopic history of this influential hole-in-the-wall rock venue, named one of "The Best Rock Clubs in America" by Rolling Stone. Featuring a foreword by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats and first hand interviews with members of The Flaming Lips, Interpol, Low, OK Go, Vandermark Five, Girl Talk, The Rapture, Red Red Meat, The Sea and Cake, and more, as well as rarely-seen, full-color photographs and reproductions of original silkscreen gig posters, this collection is the tell-all confessional from a bar with countless stories to share. Each anecdote is an opportunity to relive experiences that seem conceivable only at the Bottle: watching The Flaming Lips play for a capacity crowd; shooting pool with Krist Novoselic of Nirvana; standing ten feet away from Arcade Fire as they perform a show that could be best described as a “spiritual tent revival for secular indie rock fans.” Those who choose to read the book cover to cover will find that many of the stories intersect and mutate, remarking on the complexities of memory, giving in to the growing older, and what it means to look back on a particular time in your life and realize you were part of something bigger than yourself. As musician and contributor Bobby Conn remarked, "It's not really the place. It's everyone making it happen there."

30 review for The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing

  1. 4 out of 5

    Victor Giron

    Amazing

  2. 5 out of 5

    Adam Parrilli

    According to my rather meticulous record keeping, I’ve been to the Bottle 48 times. What stands out is the diversity of those acts, and how a great many of the headliners I saw were female. Courtney Barnett, Wild Flag, Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, Jessica Lee Mayfield, Ex Hex, Speedy Ortiz...I think that says a lot about the venue. It was also loud, usually crowded (except for that Damon & Naomi show), and the beer was always cold. This book is awesome as it has loads of mini-essays by artists tha According to my rather meticulous record keeping, I’ve been to the Bottle 48 times. What stands out is the diversity of those acts, and how a great many of the headliners I saw were female. Courtney Barnett, Wild Flag, Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, Jessica Lee Mayfield, Ex Hex, Speedy Ortiz...I think that says a lot about the venue. It was also loud, usually crowded (except for that Damon & Naomi show), and the beer was always cold. This book is awesome as it has loads of mini-essays by artists that played there, EB employees, visual artists, the owner. They end up being interesting love letters to a place where all are welcome. The book really makes me miss live shows. I’m excited to see who EB books once we can all be closer together again.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    An essential resource for music nerds and Chicagoans! I wish such a book existed for every club in the city. And can I just offer my admiration, as an editor, for the fact that this book happened at all? Dozens of interviews and essays, hundreds of photos, and, running in tiny type on each recto page throughout, a chronological list of every single show at the Bottle through 2015. Imagine all the fact checking and proofreading alone! Astonishing! Kudos to John E. Dugan for wrangling all these pu An essential resource for music nerds and Chicagoans! I wish such a book existed for every club in the city. And can I just offer my admiration, as an editor, for the fact that this book happened at all? Dozens of interviews and essays, hundreds of photos, and, running in tiny type on each recto page throughout, a chronological list of every single show at the Bottle through 2015. Imagine all the fact checking and proofreading alone! Astonishing! Kudos to John E. Dugan for wrangling all these punk-ass cats (and RIP to Radley)!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tom Donaghey

    THE EMPTY BOTTLE: 21 Years of Music/Friendly/Dancing is edited by John Dugan. It is actually written by hundreds of loving contributors through transcribed interviews. The Empty Bottle is actually a bar that acts like it is a small music venue as well as the local watering hole, gathering place, site for meeting, greeting, entertaining, being entertained, falling in love, fighting, toss in some fornicating and many other things that do not even begin to tell the whole story and you start to un THE EMPTY BOTTLE: 21 Years of Music/Friendly/Dancing is edited by John Dugan. It is actually written by hundreds of loving contributors through transcribed interviews. The Empty Bottle is actually a bar that acts like it is a small music venue as well as the local watering hole, gathering place, site for meeting, greeting, entertaining, being entertained, falling in love, fighting, toss in some fornicating and many other things that do not even begin to tell the whole story and you start to understand what this Chicago staple is, at least a little. It is like thousands of other bar/clubs while being like no other. I think the best way to describe this book is to call it a love letter, written large and colorfully, to a neighborhood place that also happens to be one of "The Best Rock Clubs In America" according to Rolling Stone. In it's 250 pages there are dozens and dozens of stories about the place, the owners, the bands and the people. And there are seemingly hundreds of splashy photographs of and by the people who lived through it all, be it working, playing, drinking or all of it. Also included is a complete list of the bands that played there over the twenty one years captured by this book. The vast majority are local groups that were together long enough to do a show or two here, some were true rising stars while others flamed out, sometimes during the show. No matter, the Empty Bottle provided a showcase for lots of acts going up, down or sideways. So you can either read about this house of music or stop in at 1035 N. Western Ave next time you're in Chi-town. Maybe you'll be in the next love letter. I won this book through Good Reads.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peggah Ghoreishi

    MUSIC -- FRIENDLY -- DANCING The Empty Bottle is one of my favorite venues in Chicago and I love having this little tangible part of its history. I really enjoyed reading the book and learning about its rise to one of the best venues in Chicago. The stories are compiled in a somewhat chronological order, with paragraphs from the owner, Bruce, current and former employees, and plenty of musicians who graced the stage. There are great pictures of bands playing at the Empty Bottle, as well as concer MUSIC -- FRIENDLY -- DANCING The Empty Bottle is one of my favorite venues in Chicago and I love having this little tangible part of its history. I really enjoyed reading the book and learning about its rise to one of the best venues in Chicago. The stories are compiled in a somewhat chronological order, with paragraphs from the owner, Bruce, current and former employees, and plenty of musicians who graced the stage. There are great pictures of bands playing at the Empty Bottle, as well as concert posters. The outer margins of the pages contain a list of all the events held at the Empty Bottle. It was fun to see which I had attended, and I was sad to notice how many shows I didn't attend. There aren't as many stories from the average Empty Bottle attendee, though it seems like most regulars get hired one way or another. I had considered writing up something to contribute to the book, but I had no real qualifications to do so. There's a lot of insight on the creation of the venue, but the musicians' input all feels pretty similar. My favorite pieces were definitely from John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats (who wrote the foreward), Damian Kulash of OKGO, Tim Kinsella of Joan of Arc (etc.), and Bruce's statement about Radley, the beloved venue cat. I won a copy of this through a giveaway... after I bought it from amazon. Luckily, the book is filled with Chicago music memories and beautiful pictures, making it easy to give as a gift. Overall this book made me wish I was cooler and older, and also made me wonder if my life would have been any different if I had moved to Chicago sooner. Maybe I would've tried to get a fake ID to sneak into the Empty Bottle.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anne Marie

    Wonderful pictures! Took me back in time!!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve.

  8. 5 out of 5

    CBSD Library

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter Beckway

  10. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Eves

  11. 5 out of 5

    Henry Bianco

  12. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Doyle

  13. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scott Mason

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Bohnsack

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  17. 5 out of 5

    Meg

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dan Hogan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matt Williams

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gabi Mészáros

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mctsonic

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steve Davidson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sam McKinney

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  26. 4 out of 5

    Curbside Splendor

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Carvajal

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ted

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andy Frye

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katherine McDonagh

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