The Empty Bottle
Normally we aren’t a fan of facelifts (Bruce Jenner, anyone?) but in the case of Empty Bottle, the veteran venue’s brand spankin’ new floors and bathrooms fared well from a spit shine earlier this year that made the physical appearance match up to the beauty of their booking. In 2011, Empty Bottle Presents brought us Jane Birkin for chrissakes, plus Tortoise, the HoZac Blackout Fest, the Neon Marshmallow Fest, trivia nights and a Handmade Market. Next year we might just bring our sleeping bag and start camping out.
The Empty Bottle
1035 North Western
Best of Chicago 2011
Radley, the Empty Bottle house cat
Seventeen years ago, a black kitten with the word “mice” inked in his ear was abandoned at the Empty Bottle; there he remained, nipping sips from shots at the bar or curling up for a nap in a drum kit. A stray who belonged to no one, Radley’s death touched everyone to ever play a set in his house. “I got drunk many-a-time with that cat,” recalls patron Jonathan Jarrow. Michael Castelle writes, “I never got to apologize for that time I tried to bring him into the photo booth.” On August 25, when Radley passed away due to liver failure, Bottle proprietor Bruce Finkelman delivered the sad news: “Radley finally succumbed to the ills of the hard rockin’ lifestyle he lived.” Local media all ran stories eulogizing the passing of Radley, a cat who oversaw two decades of independent music and whose cremated ashes are forever enshrined in an urn behind the bar.
Best of Chicago 2009
Epiphany Episcopal Church
It’s Friday night and all the hipsters are going to…church? In a partnership with Empty Bottle Presents, Epiphany opened its doors to the rock community in mid-September with acts like Low, Jenny Lewis and the wacky Dan Deacon performing shows. At first it might seem daunting to attend a rock concert in such a sanctified place, but the crisp and booming acoustics simply put Aragon to shame. The absence of pews combined with flowing Goose Island beer and beautiful lit-up murals transforms the church into a full-fledged rock hall with an inkling of godliness.
201 S. Ashland
Best of Chicago 2008
The Empty Bottle functions as Chicago’s lifeline to underground music, the place to go when you want to see acts on their way to the top or just struggling to get across the country. Owner Bruce Finkleman does his best to ensure that, within a span of seven days, you can catch garage or indie rock, free jazz, laptop-playing knob twiddlers and hip hop-in fact, it’s hard to find a seven-day span when you can’t see all of the above. And in the tradition of old-school rock venues, the Bottle keeps it cheap, from the more-than-fair cover charges to bottles of Huber Bock for just a buck. (Big spenders can plop down a dollar more for the good stuff, the Pabst and the Old Style). For more than ten years the Bottle has been at the pulse of Chicago’s diehard music scene; here’s to the next ten.
1035 North Western (773)276-3600
Best of Chicago 2002