Linksomania: Replacing the Congress and emergency planning for Lollapalooza

Also: Live Nation trumpets local food sourcing

July 25, 2013

Following the hubbub of the Pitchfork Music Festival, there were a couple of music news items worth noting in recent days, starting with the announcement of a new music venue in Wicker Park/Logan Square that may put the final nail in the coffin of the troubled Congress Theater.

My Sound Opinions foil Greg Kot got the scoop for The Chicago Tribune on the Concord Music Hall, opening in a 20,000-square foot space at 2047 N. Milwaukee Ave. that formerly housed a Latin music club. The official announcement followed today, and the new club is expected to accommodate between 700 and 1,600 fans, depending on whether the balconies are open.

The sad news here for the Congress, which had another court hearing today on building code issues and still is appealing the revocation of its liquor license, is that the Concord is a joint venture between some of the promoters that gave Erineo “Eddie” Carranza’s older and larger theater its best bookings: electronic dance music promoters React Presents and Silver Wrapper and punk-rock promoters Riot Fest.

Carranza on July 11 told the judge overseeing the building code case that the Congress would have a new operator “in two days,” as reported by DNAinfo. That didn’t happen, and at today’s hearing, his attorney now predicted that something would happen “by October,” according to The Chicago Sun-Times. The Congress remains closed until the next hearing in the fall.

Meanwhile, north and west on Milwaukee Avenue at Six Corners, Carranza told DNAinfo that he’s contracted with a real estate development firm to find a “independent movie and live music entertainment promoter/operator” to run his second historic but problematic venue, the Portage Theater, as well as a “big” music promoter to save the Congress.

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The Tribune also has an update on emergency evacuation planning for Lollapalooza, courtesy of investigative entertainment reporter Heather Gillers.

The issue of where tens of thousands of people go when bad weather strikes an outdoor music festival became a serious concern when a violent thunderstorm struck Lollapalooza last August, and when bad weather forced the evacuation of Union Park during Pitchfork, Wrigley Field during a Pearl Jam concert, and Live Nation’s expanded venue on Northerly Island during the Phish show last Friday.

The city’s new plan deals only with Lollapalooza, and it’s not a great one: Concertgoers all will be herded into the underground parking garages at the northern end of Grant Park, a far walk indeed from the main stage in the south at Hutchinson Field. But at least the city’s Office of Emergency Management finally has provided an answer after years of ignoring the question from reporters.

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Finally, speaking of Live Nation, its Northerly Island and Tinley Park concert venues may have poor sound and sight lines, relentless marketing, overpriced tickets, egregious ticket fees, bogus parking charges, and relentlessly corporate and soulless vibes, but they now also have “locally grown produce, meat products certified under animal welfare programs recognized by the Humane Society,” and a veggie burger concocted by celebrity Chef Hugh Acheson, he of unibrow judging fame on Top Chef.

Read about it here. Now doesn’t that make you feel better about the Evil Empire?

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