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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, November 29

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Feature Fri Aug 29 2008

Venue Profile: Bottom Lounge

The old Bottom Lounge on Wilton was a small space with a bar, music room (with poles to the side of the floor), and upstairs lounge. The new Bottom Lounge at 1375 W. Lake is a large space with a bar and restaurant, music room (with poles to the side of the floor), and upstairs lounge — and more. It may have taken a while for the new Bottom Lounge to open after CTA expansion forced the old one to close, but they really got it right, even down to being next to the El again. However, now it faces the tracks, which makes it just a little difficult to hear anything outside when a Green Line rumbles by.


Perhaps the first thing that everyone will notice about the Bottom Lounge is that it's huge. The front room with the bar and restaurant has high ceilings, lots of seating and open space. It's ideal for pre-show and even during one if, say, a certain opener isn't really having a good set. The bar has been expanded, as well. Clearly they are trying to draw a significant non-showgoing crowd.

But this is about a music venue. And this one's been put together very well. First of all, it's a large space that attributes itself well to even a small crowd. But being with a few hundred other fans doesn't make it terribly cramped either. And the A/C works like a charm. Even on a muggy summer evening it was comfortable. Sightlines are generally good from all over, as it has a setup similar to Metro, in which the low-lying stage is along the long side and the back wall isn't further than 40 feet from the stage. The room isn't as wide and there's no balcony, so the room isn't as large as Metro; it seems it'll accommodate bands who are between the Empty Bottle and Metro, popularity-wise. (Based on recent and future bookings, it appears it'll take over where Double Door once did.)


The sound is some of the best in town. It's mostly loud and crisp. Any band should sound decent through the massive system. The lighting rig on and around the stage looks like it should be in a much larger venue, but can work well for some flashy bands who need to distract the audience. Yet at the same time the room is dark. The walls are all black and, other than a hallway to the left, there is hardly any light away from the stage. (Speaking of that hallway, though, I was impressed with it as a bulletin board for upcoming shows. It's splattered with posters and flyers.) So far, the room doesn't have much character. It's still pretty clean, but that should work itself out in the next few months as they host some gritty acts that'll bring out their gritty fans.

Even being next to a train, it's still about three blocks from the Ashland station for Green and Pink lines. There is a parking lot next door, appropriate since the building was apparently a taxi repair shop in a former life. Street parking isn't particularly hard to find, especially north or south, like on Randolph. Unfortunately, bicycle parking is pretty much confined to metal fences along the sidewalk. When I was last there, that fence was full of locked bicycles for a quarter-block.

Overall, Bottom Lounge is shaping up to be a premier rock music venue in Chicago. With experienced management, talent booking and a good-looking and sounding room for shows, it won't be too long until you end up there. After a long wait, the finished product is definitely worthwhile.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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