Today, the Fireside Bowl is a decent dive for friends to gather and play some retro tenpin in Logan Square. But less than a decade ago, as any alternative music fan at the time remembers, this place was a punk rock mecca.
From 1994 to 2004, Fireside was the equivalent of CBGB in New York: an underground music club of epic debauchery and delirium. Rats scurried out of the speakers and nights usually culminated at 4 a.m. in a mess of drunken, moshing bodies. Alkaline Trio, Shellac, Ted Leo, Fall Out Boy, Sleater-Kinney, Tortoise and the Dismemberment Plan all played there — and rocked so hard, in fact, that the doors fell off the men’s bathroom and the walls caved in.
The building faced eminent domain in the late ‘90s, and in the summer of 2004, Fireside shut down the music stage. While the establishment remained open to bowlers, the nights of hardcore punk were over. Interestingly, the Fireside Bowl website makes no mention of this hard-partying era, saying only, “Logan Square became a bit unruly.”
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