THE EMPTY BOTTLE CHICAGO: 21+ YEARS MUSIC / FRIENDLY / DANCING
Edited by John E. Dugan
Foreword by John Darnielle
Cheap drinks, bathroom grafitti, 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.”
“The Empty Bottle has been a staple of the Chicago music scene for over two decades.”
“…Combined with beers for $1.50, bathroom graffiti, and crowd-surfing, wasn’t it great to be a musician in the pre-Spotify era? The Empty Bottle Chicago […] aims to reignite nostalgia for sweaty dance floors.”
—The Cut, New York Magazine
“[The Empty Bottle], for thousands of current and former Chicagoans of a certain age, is considered sacred ground. This owes mostly to the fact that the nightclub at that location is imbued with innumerable memories: of experiencing great bands on the verge of stardom, of youthful nights of drunken revelry, of endearingly bad plumbing.
“With its plain brick facade and Old Style sign hanging out front, the 20-year-old Empty Bottle looks more like a plain Chicago townie bar than the city’s most consistent punk-and-indie-rock club—not to mention the free jazz, skronky pop and other out-there genres it books. Chicago promoter Andy Cirzan calls the 400-capacity club “a kind of communal space for adventurous musicians and their fans.”
—Rolling Stone, “The Best Clubs in America”
“[The Empty Bottle] quickly became a hub in the ’90s when Chicago indie rock was exploding, and it continues to enjoy a reputation as one of the best-booked rooms in the city, embracing a spirit of experimentation to unite a wide range of genres … [The book includes] tons of great pictures from every era. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the history of a key Chicago venue or really indie music in general.”
“[The Empty Bottle] for thousands of current and former Chicagoans of a certain age, is considered sacred ground. This owes mostly to the fact that the nightclub … is imbued with innumerable memories: of experiencing great bands on the verge of stardom, of youthful nights of drunken revelry, of endearingly bad plumbing. Writer John E. Dugan spent the last two years recording many of those reminiscences … [and] compiled the best stories … into The Empty Bottle Chicago: 21+ Years of Music / Friendly / Dancing.
“During its first decade, Empty Bottle would become a magnet for underground rock, post-punk and experimental music. [The Empty Bottle Book is a] chronicle of some of its 23-year history and a collection of testimonies from the artists and fans who love it.”
ABOUT JOHN E. DUGAN:
Between touring as a rock drummer, stints as a graphic designer and human rights group organizer, John Dugan started his writing career as a reviewer for the Washington City Paper. He was the Senior Web Editor for Time Out Chicago, Web Editor/Informer Editor at Design Bureau magazine, and Editor for Pitchfork’s NothingMajor.com. As a freelance writer, his live reviews, music, arts, culture and science feature writing and blogging has appeared in the Economistonline, Spin.com, RollingStone.com, Billboard.com, the Chicago Reader, Time Out London, the Chicago Tribune, Time Out Bucharest, Maviology, LiveDaily, Michigan Avenue, and numerous other publications.
ABOUT JOHN DARNIELLE:
John Darnielle is a writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist for the band the Mountain Goats; he is widely considered one of the best lyricists of his generation. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and son.
Release date: June 2016