Bottle Bites 05: King Buffalo Cheese Curds

Because we love food as much as we love music, we invite an Empty Bottle band to go toe-to-toe with Bite Café every month — the result is a one-night-only special item to be served on the night of their show.

This month, we invited the riff-huffing, psych-stoking gents of King Buffalo into our kitchen…and our hearts. Read on to learn what they’ve cooked up for ya. (And don’t forget to snag tickets to their September 27 EB gig.)

Tell us a bit about yourselves!
King Buffalo are a power-trio bonded by three forces: flow, space, and, of course, heaviness. Their pace is a smooth cadence and perpetual hypnotic groove — it’s deliberate, powerful, and always moving.

Space is prevalent and exudes the group’s blossoming confidence (and patience) — providing air for suspense, tension, and crescendoing releases.

With the added breathing room, the explosive parts build and powerfully bust through like a blues-tinged, psychedelic, kraut-rock-powered tsunami. Bear witness to King Buffalo’s journey as they cruise onward and upward, leaving behind an amazing soundtrack as they go.

Tell us why you chose these specific inspirations for your Bottle Bites dish.
We’re only 60 miles from Buffalo, NY, so the wing culture made its way over to Rochester.

If you could invite five people—living or dead—to your dream dinner party, who would be on the guest list? What would y’all eat?
Socrates, Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Di Vinci, David Bowie, and Jack White. We’d probably eat a 5-course meal including Greek and Italian dishes.

What’s your go-to tour meal?
Mexican and Pho are the go to’s, usually, or late-night pizza.

Try Bite Café’s King Buffalo Cheese Curds for yourself on Friday, September 27, in celebration of King Buffalo’s sonic assault upon Empty Bottle. Tickets are available here.

Posted September 26th, 2019

Categories Bottle Bites

Bottle Bites 04: Constructive (Summer) Catfish

Each month, a band on the EB calendar will be invited to curate their own Bite Café special to be served on the night of their show. This month, we invited barstool rock legends The Hold Steady to cook up somethin’ real nice for y’all. Let Steve Selvidge, The Hold Steady’s guitarist, tell you all about his BBQ-inspired Bottle Bite…

Tell us a little about yourself!
I am a musician, born and raised in the musical community in Memphis, TN.  

Tell us why you chose these specific inspirations for your Bottle Bites dish.
I was backstage at a gig in Memphis, and all of us musicians were talking about what local BBQ we loved and why. This led to a discussion of some of the favorite things that our moms made for us. Somewhere on that Venn Diagram we ended up here. 

If you could invite five people—living or dead—to your dream dinner party, who would be on the guest list? What would y’all eat?
Paul Stanley, Anthony Bourdain, Jimmy Page, Georgia O’Keeffe and my dad, Sid Selvidge. So many things. A lot of grilled steak with chimichurri, grilled green onions and tomatoes, really good crusty bread and some amazing wine that’s local to somewhere.

What’s your go-to tour meal?
Usually some sort of comforting pasta that I can eat some of before the gig and then finish later. Try and get a salad in as well.  

Try Bite Café’s Fried Catfish and Braised Greens for yourself on Friday, August 23, in celebration of The Hold Steady’s three-night Chicago takeover!

Posted August 16th, 2019

Categories Bottle Bites

Bottle Bites 03: 6.4 = A Dinner Out

Each month, a band on the EB calendar will be invited to curate their own Bite Café special to be served on the night of their show. This month, we invited proto-new wave legend Gary Wilson into our kitchen (and our hearts 🖤) . Read on to learn what he cooked up for y’all!

Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am Gary Wilson born in the town of Endicott, New York, in 1953. I self-recorded my album You Think You Really Know Me at my parents’ home in Endicott.  Composer John Cage invited me to his home in Haverstraw, New York, when I was 15 years old. We went over my avant garde classical scores. I was invited by Questlove of The Roots to appear on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and Earl Sweatshirt of Odd Future invited me to appear with him on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. I have released my last 6 albums on Cleopatra Records, with my latest called The King Of Endicott

Tell us about your Bottle Bites dish…
My mother was Italian and my father was English. My mother would have to strain her sauce for me. I’m sort of a plain guy — I don’t eat vegetables and fruits and very rarely drink regular water. I mostly drink a two-liter bottle of regular Coke every day. My sauce is basic but the secret is the sweet Italian sausage (not broken up) and letting it simmer for at least 3 to 4 hours. Plain cheese burgers are also my favorite food.  

If you could invite five people—living or dead—to your dream dinner party, who would be on the guest list? What would y’all eat? 
I would invite John Cage, Allen Ginsburg, Frank Zappa, Dion and Barbara Steele for dinner. We would have my cheese ravioli and sauce and plenty of cheese and soda pop with my favorite movie playing (A Summer Place with Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue).

What’s your go-to tour meal? 
My favorite place to stop on tour is McDonald’s for a few plain cheese burgers. I did two tours in Europe and McDonald’s saved me.   

Try Bite Café’s 6.4 = A Dinner Out (bucatini with veal meatballs, Sunday gravy, and grana padano) for yourself on Tuesday, July 30, in celebration of Part Time and Gary Wilson’s Bottle gig!

Posted July 30th, 2019

Categories Bottle Bites

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Bottle Bites 02: The Mystery Bowl

Y’all doubled down on last month’s Dehd Dawg, and we’re all about giving the people what they want, so…Bottle Bites* is back, babyyy!

*(A note for the uninitiated: Each month, a band on the EB calendar will be invited to curate their own Bite Café special to be served on the night of their show. Keep a lookout for dishes that’ll be equal parts daring and delicious, hungry hounds.)

Read on to get the whole scoop on The Mystery Lights‘ Bottle Bites installment…

Tell us a bit about yourselves!
We all need a drink and a shrink 🙂

Tell us about your Bottle Bites dish…
It all started with the noodle. Not a hot noodle as expected…this noodle is served cool like jazz and while yer at it, hold the gluten. 

If the chicken came before the egg, we’re glad it did because the chicken inspired the egg on our dish. Soft-boiled, because the yolk reminds us of summer sun and friendships that hold us together through the hard times.

Let’s not forget the kimchi because we like to put cute microorganisms into our bellies, where they can party on the inside while we humans party on the outside.

A little of this here and a pinch of that there and you got yerself a bingo  bango!

If you could invite five people—living or dead—to your dream dinner party, who would be on the guest list? What would y’all eat?
George Clinton (with Joseph Campbell as his +1), Harmony Korine, John Leguizamo as ‘The Pest’ (with Mason Ramsy as his +1), Snoop Dogg, Bette Davis.

What’s your go-to tour meal?
This tour has definitely been the Beyond / Impossible Burger tour so far.  

Try Bite Café’s Mystery Bowl (a Bibimbop Bowl with soba noodles, a soft egg, kimchi aioli, and seasonal vegetables) for yourself on Tuesday, June 25, in celebration of The Mystery Lights’ show at The Empty Bottle!

Oh, and we should mention that tickets are flyin’ for that one. Get yer paws on some now.

Posted June 17th, 2019

Categories Bottle Bites

Bottle Bites 01: The Dehd Dawg

DehdBottleBites

We here at ye olde Empty Bottle believe that, YES, we can have it all. That’s why we’re combining our two favorite things in the whole wide world—music and food. Cue: Bottle Bites.

Each month, a band on the EB calendar will be invited to curate their own Bite Café special to be served on the night of their show. Keep a lookout for dishes that’ll be equal parts daring and delicious, hungry hounds.

Read on to learn a little sumpin’ sumpin’ about hometown darlings Dehd and their Bottle Bites creation…

Tell us a bit about yourselves!
We are Emily Kempf, Eric McGrady and Jason Balla—otherwise known as Dehd. We love snacking on the road, bubbly water and playing at the Empty Bottle.

Tell us about your Bottle Bites dish…
We chose a fancy pants hot dog as our dish for Bite because on tour the gas station dogs always let us down, so we wanted to be able to come home and have a proper dog. Also, since we call Chicago home it just seemed right. AND it rhymes. Dehd Dawg!

If you could invite five people—living or dead—to your dream dinner party, who would be on the guest list? What would y’all eat?
It’d be a pretty wild bunch. Britney Spears, Marcel Duchamp, Kendrick Lamar, the Kardashians and Stanley Kubrick. Eric would cook his specialty feast of potatoes.

What’s your go-to tour meal?
Sad to say it’s Subway. Veggie delight footlong, light mayo and spicy mustard.

Try Bite Café’s Dehd Dawg (an andouille pork corndog with honey butter dijon) for yourself on Friday, May 10 in celebration of Dehd’s record release show at The Empty Bottle!

Oh, and we should mention that tickets are flyin’ fast for that one. Get yer paws on some now.

Behold, the Dehd Dawg.

Posted May 6th, 2019

Categories Bottle Bites

Bottle Recap: Low & IN / VIA 11.12

The Empty Bottle works with a wide variety of venues for their Presents shows, but perhaps none of them are as intimate and stunning as their Rockefeller Chapel concerts. For EBP this past Friday, Low took to the stage with opener IN / VIA. Both groups used the space to their advantage, crafting stark, emotionally wrought songs that were mollified by the Chapel’s acoustics.

IN / VIA, the solo synth project of Nona Invie, was an apt way to set the tone for Low. With swirling and twirling synth lines that were as mesmerizing as the vocals, IN / VIA created structured soundscapes that moved freely. Synth sounds warm and cool basked in the Chapel’s openness providing a lush backdrop for somber, heartfelt lyricism.

While Low didn’t use synths (their consistent instrumentation is guitar, bass, drums, and vocals), their set followed IN / VIA’s smoothly, with poise and admiration—for their opener, the Chapel, and the listeners. The fact that it was an EBP production was particularly resonant for them, as their first show in Chicago was at The Bottle about 25 winters ago.

Despite it being just the beginning of the cold months, the harmonies of Alan Sparkhawk and Mimi Parker (the group’s core members who are also married) instantly instilled the imagery and feeling of the last bit of snow and ice melting at the end of winter. Their haunting vocals are what really set Low apart, and experiencing these voices live—attached to their sincere sources and heard in the reverberant space—was a highlight of the show.

“It’s such a beautiful space, I can’t say anything to ruin it,” Sparkhawk said simply of the Chapel.

Much of its beauty was manifested in its sonic qualities, but both these and the visual aspects were only accentuated by the lighting that accompanied Low. Frequent collaborator and engineer/producer Tom Herbers (who has also worked with Andrew Bird, Why?, and many others) instead focused on the lightboard, controlling three panels of lights that reacted to the sounds with abstract textures and other visuals. The lighting echoed the evocative, solemn music well, playing a much larger role than lighting usual does at a concert.

About half of Low’s set was made up of their recent album, Septembers’ Double Negative. Sonically, the record is a huge shift from previous records, with different production and recording approaches greatly molding their sound.

But their Rockefeller Chapel concert showed that their distinct songwriting and minimal compositions were still at the heart of this new sound. Sounding more like previous records rather than Double Negative, Low’s feeling and energy is what is most important about their music, and the fact that they can convey that purely no matter the sonic approach is a testament to their genuinity and emotional sentiment.

*A review by Izzy Yellen

*Photos by @bblane_photography

Posted December 13th, 2018

Categories EBP, Review, Uncategorized

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Bottle Recap: Thurston Moore Group / Krista Franklin 11.12

Photo by Mike Bieniek

This past Monday, the Thurston Moore Group and poet Krista Franklin shared new work at the Art Institute, and the two contrasting performances filled the sold-out room with rejuvenating and motivating power amidst the the Chicago snowfall and nation’s ever-present negativity. While Franklin conjured up these powers with weighted words, Moore’s band instead premiered a lengthy instrumental piece.

Franklin shared three poems to open up the event, each with a distinct style. The third led into the Thurston Moore Group perfectly. The poem was explicitly a call to action and reflection, and Moore’s new composition certainly allowed inward-looking and was rooted in activism.

The piece was entitled “Alice Moki Jayne,” after its three inspirations—musician Alice Coltrane, visual artist Moki Cherry, and poet Jayne Cortez—all key figures in the sixties due to art and activism. While Moore is known for his heavily improvised noise jams in his group and Sonic Youth, “Alice Moki Jayne” was much more restrained and conceptual, allowing him to explore his instrumental compositional voice and the sound of the 12-string electric guitar.

Joined by guitarist James Sedwards, bassist Debbie Googe, and drummer Steve Shelley (also a Sonic Youth alum), Moore “conducted” the group minimally, signaling new sections, segueing and stitching together the ambient and heavy seamlessly.

Opening with a minimal, reverb-drenched section, the group played to the room with no problem whatsoever. This elastic moment was disrupted by a strum of gravitas from Moore, moving the quartet into the second part.

Photo by Neil Rigler

The lush ringing the 12-strings brought to the palette were particularly accentuated by the venue—the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room—a boxy, resonant location.

The piece was a journey through many sections—some short soundscapes, some longer fuzzy jams—each one unpredictable yet satisfying. There was direction that came from its structure, but the variety of the sections kept the work snaking and hard to pin down. Not only that, but the maintained cohesiveness was even more impressive thanks to mixed bag.

With all the false endings from the movements, the actual end took the audience by surprise, and after awe and applause, Moore leaned into the mic for his only words—sharing the basis for the piece and his gratitude to Franklin “for sharing what’s on her mind” as well as the concert-goers. The Thurston Moore Group has performed “Alice Moki Jayne” a few times, so if a studio recording happens, you’d better keep your ears open.

*A review by Izzy Yellen

Posted December 13th, 2018

Categories EBP, Review, Uncategorized

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Empty Exchange: SERENGETI

About a month ago, rapper Serengeti completed his Kenny Dennis saga, comprised of eight releases and “Dennehy,” the infamous song that started it all. Serengeti first rapped as Kenny back in 2006, creating a light-hearted single song about a simple guy who enjoys kicking back, watching some Chicago sports, and eating brats. But Serengeti’s inventive personality and own life began shaping this Chicagoan stereotype even more and more, and there are many points in all the releases where it’s clear Kenny isn’t just a character. He is more than that—a way for Serengeti to get through his own life, Dennis 6e being particularly connected to its creator.

Courtesy of the artist

After an enjoyable conversation with Serengeti (who’s a down-to-earth, genuine dude named Dave Cohen), it was clear that the depth of Kenny goes beyond speculation. While he may have started as a fun, humorous character, he grew beyond that, a self-prescribed therapy of sorts. Serengeti has done other cathartic music, but it was Kenny that he found to be distinctly freeing.

“I do all these records to get myself out of it,”

referring to his sadness. While he makes the art for everyone to hear, it is first and foremost for him. With Kenny, Cohen shared, he can distance himself from the situations and emotions and make breakthroughs. But as much as he separates his life from Kenny’s, the two never fail to mesh together, informing each other more and more.

In the case of the final album, the intertwined lives both have closure. When I asked Cohen about how he feels now that the last chapter has been told, his response was of contentedness and acceptance:

“Now I see the whole thing for what it is.”

He’s happy with what he created in all its intricate, detail-oriented, emotionally-driven, funny glory—and more than that, its creation seems to have had a lasting effect on his well being.

So what’s next for Serengeti? He may be retiring Kenny Dennis but he’s certainly not slowing down—it’s not in his nature (he’s released nearly thirty albums and over ten EPs since 2003, damn). But he is approaching music in a different way than he has during his productive career, focusing more on short, physical releases. He’s also completed a full-length script for a Kenny Dennis movie, telling the stories the music did in a more literal way and filling in the gaps. He explained to me the desire of making the movie came from the distinction of what each means of storytelling does—the music told it in an impressionistic way, but he wants the movie to be more literal—

“really clear and really funny and also sort of sad.”

Serengeti will be performing at The Empty Bottle on October 11, in support of Air Credits and Sims. You can follow his many endeavors on his Instagram and Twitter under the handle of @serengetidave.

Posted October 10th, 2018

Categories Empty Exchange

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Bottle Recap: TV On The Radio @ 312 Block Party 9.21

“Shit is fuckin’ weird right now. Be nice to people you know, be nice to people you don’t know…Lance that boil, pop that zit. Here’s another song.”

Lead vocalist Tunde Adebimpe expressed these sentiments and similar ones through his quips between songs and overall performance, and the rest of the band backed him up throughout their set that closed out the first day of Goose Island’s 312 Block Party. The show had a perfect balance of being about the turmoil going on right now and simply dancing away that negativity, the music cathartic and enjoyable in nature.


Photo by Danny O’Donnell, @Do312

What makes TV On The Radio special is their extreme eclecticism—they’re primarily a rock band, yes, but they pull from many sub-genres (including but not limited to punk and synth) as well as a multitude of other styles and traditions. And they do this with an energy that boils and melts it all together into a fine hodge-podge of sounds, in the studio—and as exemplified by their September 21 show—on the stage.

In all honesty, I was a bit nervous to hear how they would sound live—their records are so well-produced, countless layers interacting but never getting in the way of each other, pristine vocal tracks and their harmonies shining. Throughout the concert, there were great moments where each musician’s zeal was supremely prominent—a trombone and guitar rhythmically spitting back and forth, subtly and minimally used vocal effects resulting in controlled feedback atop everything else before being buried, unrelenting drums holding it all together.


Photo by Danny O’Donnell, @Do312

A high point in the show came after the aforementioned quote, with the moving chorus of “Trouble,” from 2014’s Seeds. Adebimpe—and the many fans singing along—belted out “‘Everything’s gonna be okay’ / Oh, I keep telling myself / ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ / Oh, you keep telling yourself” and following its introduction, the song that preceded recent events had a new meaning, one that evoked both a longing acceptance and bitter sarcasm, depending on how you heard and processed it. In a time when it seems every artist has to acknowledge the current climate, TV On The Radio navigated that well, not disregarding the immense power music has to deal with heavy subjects in abstract ways, nor the ability it has to—at the very least—help masses put their worries somewhere else and just dance and sing.

*A review by Izzy Yellen

Posted October 9th, 2018

Categories Blog, EBP

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Beyond The Gate feat. Grouper, Mute Duo Ensemble, & Hilary Woods 9.23

It’s not often you get to see a well-programmed concert at a cemetery on the Fall Equinox. And under the Harvest Moon. But Empty Bottle Presents’ Beyond The Gate was exactly that.


Photo by Danny O’Donnell, @312

Right off the bat, the setting was beautiful—blue lights illuminating the building behind, branches and handmade lit-up orbs adorning the stage, blankets and chairs packed into the lawn with bundled up fans.


Photo by Danny O’Donnell, @312

Once the crowd and the sun’s light settled, Hilary Woods began, twangy guitar accompanying her wispy but resonant voice. The atmosphere she created, especially in the cemetery, was reminiscent of Angelo Badalamenti’s music for Twin Peaks—thick, muddy voicings on a keyboard and 50s-sounding guitar (she switched between the two) created structured songs that still allowed there to be an atmospheric, open quality.


Photo by Danny O’Donnell, @312

Mute Duo is Sam Wagster on pedal steel and Skyler Rowe on drums/percussion, but for this special concert, they were the Mute Duo Ensemble, joined by six others. An instrumental group (aside from wordless vocals from Bottle staple Bruce “Hesh” Lamont, who also played tenor sax), the collection of musicians played without breaks, going from unified drones to solos to prickly durations of time that had the many voices peeking out of the combined voice with their idiosyncrasies.


Photo by Danny O’Donnell, @312

Grouper was—in terms of the whole bill—a synthesis of her openers, bringing together chaos and stark songwriting. The fact that it was just a sole musician (Liz Harris) didn’t stop there from being layers and layers of sound enveloping the audience. Grouper’s outside music surrounded and comforted me, the powerful moments—emotionally and sonically—making the near silent moments even more silent, and the silent moments making the powerful even more powerful. The dynamic and emotional range of her performance was flooring, and this was only accentuated by its setting.

While the space and her interaction with it was an instrument itself, it would not have functioned as such without the sources—her elaborate but well-controlled setup of piano, guitar, affected vocals, and samples, all through a mixer she intently controlled. Melting and shifting together, these different instruments often took on similar forms in context of her larger work.

Hilary Woods, Mute Duo Ensemble, and Grouper evoked an unsettling creepiness at their concert space without forcing it at all, their music finding a home at Bohemian National Cemetery and, ultimately, being more moving thanks to the environment. I’m already excited to hear more bands find a home for their music at the cemetery next year.

*A review by Izzy Yellen

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