WBEZ | Smart Bar http://www.wbez.org/tags/smart-bar Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en EDM after the drop: What a wounded corporate giant means for dance music culture http://www.wbez.org/news/music/edm-after-drop-what-wounded-corporate-giant-means-dance-music-culture-113209 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Festivalgoers at TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in 2013..jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res445043110"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Festivalgoers at TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in 2013." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/01/gettyimages-182603438_wide-cbe1cf96bfd6238dd03c6091799431e3a2fce61b-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 343px; width: 610px;" title="Festivalgoers at TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in 2013. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Mud has a way of capturing the popular memory of a music festival. After stormy weather hit this year&#39;s massive TomorrowWorld, an electronic dance music gathering held in Chattahoochee Hillso, Georgia on September 25-27, images circulated online of self-identified festival goers sleeping, stranded, on the soggy ground. Organizers of the event, which last year drew 160,000 people, ultimately closed off the final day to anyone not among the estimated 40,000 on-site campers.</p></div></div></div><p>TomorrowWorld has promised refunds, and a festival spokesperson told NPR in a statement, &quot;The safety of our attendees is our top priority.&quot; But the public-relations disaster came at a curious time for the fest&#39;s parent company, SFX Entertainment, and the world of EDM as a whole.</p><p>On October 14, SFX faces a self-imposed deadline for considering offers to buy all or part of the EDM-focused conglomerate. SFX&#39;s D-Day arrives after multiple postponements, and after its colorful chief executive, the veteran radio and live music impresario Robert F.X. Sillerman, scrapped an offer to buy the roughly 60% of the business he didn&#39;t already own. The backdrop is a precipitous fall in SFX&#39;s market value, from more than $1 billion when it went public in October 2013 to around $70 million as of October 5. With so much money in flux, what happens to SFX can&#39;t help but reflect on the broader culture of dance music, which goes back more than four decades, to the worlds of rave, techno, house and disco. In 2015, that mud is big business.</p><div id="res445046423"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Robert F.X. Sillerman, CEO of SFX." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/01/gettyimages-184435502_sq-8e39f0d6a15e79b70a170137d0651f03b1f4c771-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Robert F.X. Sillerman, CEO of SFX. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Sillerman, in a nearly 40-minute interview with NPR just hours before the photos from Georgia began surfacing, acknowledged his business failings while describing his attraction to EDM culture as sociological more than aesthetic. &quot;There are things I&#39;ve done terribly and I deserve to be faulted for them,&quot; the 67-year-old Bronx native says from a home in the Hamptons, his voice raspy following successful tongue cancer treatment in 2001. Of EDM&#39;s young fans and any connection they might feel with the scene that existed before them, he tells NPR: &quot;I don&#39;t think they want to discover the past. I think they want to invent the future.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>The genesis of SFX was a little bit of both. In 2000, Sillerman sold the first version of SFX Entertainment, a patchwork of live-music companies that is now Live Nation Entertainment, to Clear Channel for $4.4 billion. He founded the current SFX in 2012 with a plan to spend $1 billion buying up EDM businesses. In effect, he was looking to repeat his past deal-making success with the music he now saw as the future. Among SFX&#39;s high-profile acquisitions have been the European festival promoters ID&amp;T, American festivals such as New York&#39;s Electric Zoo and the genre&#39;s top digital music retailer, Beatport.</p><p>SFX positioned itself as the face of EDM but never laid claim to the tradition that gave rise to it. &quot;From a personal point of view, I&#39;ve always loved to dance, but that&#39;s not why we got into this,&quot; Sillerman says. &quot;The appeal was pure and simply to be attached to a generational movement.&quot;</p><p>Nor does Sillerman profess to bring anything new to the culture. &quot;If there was a contribution we&#39;ve made, it&#39;s to make it easier for fans and DJs and producers around the world to access it.&quot;</p><p>But despite SFX&#39;s partnerships with established promoters, the company&#39;s connection to the culture it markets is subject to debate. &quot;That genre is evolving,&quot; says a former SFX executive who asked not to be named, citing obligations to a current employer. &quot;When I was at SFX, we didn&#39;t tell the proper story about the culture and the evolution of the actual genre. It&#39;s ever-changing. We used it as a static point in time, and that&#39;s not what that genre&#39;s about.&quot;</p><p>A weakened SFX, then, doesn&#39;t necessarily mean weakness for the hodgepodge of styles that might be loosely lumped together as EDM.</p><p>In fact, few acts today stand with one foot in SFX&#39;s world and another in the underground, says Marea Stamper, who DJs and produces music as the Black Madonna and works as a creative director and talent buyer at Chicago club Smart Bar. &quot;It&#39;s like comparing Kiss to the Clash,&quot; she observes. &quot;They&#39;re just not related.&quot;</p><p>Electronic dance music actually has multiple cultures running in parallel, and none are going away anytime soon, says Philip Sherburne, a contributing editor at Pitchfork (and former Beatport news blog editor). That&#39;s not to say mainstream culture hasn&#39;t changed. Sherburne traces a shift to around 2008, when longtime club-goers who followed dance music traditions gave way to a younger, bigger crop of fans that were learning about the music through modern channels.</p><div id="res445045252"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Avicii performs during the KROQ Weenie Roast at Verizon Wireless Music Center on May 31, 2014 in Irvine, California." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/01/gettyimages-494974919_wide-90e8617be33d12c64a7f41cb3b1ce094c843e3e0-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="Avicii performs during the KROQ Weenie Roast at Verizon Wireless Music Center on May 31, 2014 in Irvine, California. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)" /></div><div><p>Sherburne agrees with Stamper&#39;s comparison between SFX-scale acts and vintage pop-metal bands. &quot;Just sonically, Avicii or mainstream EDM sounds to me like Van Halen&#39;s &#39;Jump,&#39;&quot; Sherburne says. &quot;It&#39;s the same synthesizers; it&#39;s the same pleasure centers. You could say that Alesso is Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi took metal or hard rock and aimed it squarely at a very mainstream, middle-American public. That&#39;s exactly the same thing: These artists have taken what was once a subculture and redesigned it along a pop format. I don&#39;t know the economics of hair metal, but it seems to me pretty clear that [with EDM] we&#39;re in the era of the Wingers and the Whitesnakes.&quot;</p></div></div><p>Fittingly, the neon and glow-stick set has climbed up the pop charts. In July, &quot;Where Are Ü Now,&quot; a tender electronic-pop ballad by Jack Ü, the joint venture of producers Diplo and Skrillex, and featuring Justin Bieber on vocals, cracked the top 10 of&nbsp;Billboard&#39;s Hot 100.&nbsp;The New York Times&nbsp;documented the making of the song in a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/25/arts/music/justin-bieber-diplo-skrillex-make-a-hit-song.html?_r=1">video</a>, rebutting the idea of EDM-pop as just empty calories.</p><p>Ali Shirazinia, who won a Grammy in 2002 with progressive house duo Deep Dish and now performs minimal house and techno as Dubfire, has seen EDM from various sides, finding value in each.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t have time for nostalgia or boohooing about the way things used to be,&quot; Shirazinia tells NPR in an emailed statement. &quot;What defines me as a DJ is being steeped in the tradition of the art form, and I am grateful and very fortunate to have had that education. It makes me a more skilled, fully formed DJ. But it is not essential.&quot;</p><p>If dance music has avoided artistic bankruptcy, SFX recently raised concerns it might be headed toward the more traditional kind.</p><p>On August 10, SFX reported that despite a 48% rise in second-quarter revenue, it lost a net $48 million. Four days later, the company revealed Sillerman was rescinding his offer to take it private, reopening the bidding until October 2. SFX said it had received an unnamed &quot;indication of interest at a price lower than the $5.25 per share offered by Sillerman.&quot;</p><p>On September 17, the company announced $90 million in new financing. Rich Tullo, director of research at the financial services organization&nbsp;Albert Fried &amp; Company, tells NPR the financing &quot;takes bankruptcy off the table.&quot; Ratings agency Moody&#39;s called the move &quot;credit positive&quot; and SFX poised to stay afloat. Yet on October 1, SFX once again postponed the cut-off for bids, saying offers to buy all or part of the company would now be due October 14.</p><p>Speaking before the extension, Sillerman told NPR he plans to submit a revised bid, without further details. Asked whether he plans to sell a part of the business, such as Beatport, he says: &quot;No,&quot; though he immediately adds, &quot;I know that whenever I&#39;ve made a definitive statement like that it always turns out not to be true ... but we&#39;ve been pretty careful assembling only parts of the business that genuinely make sense.&quot;</p><p>The realm of quarterly earnings reports and corporate mergers is absurdly far removed from the early days of raving in the United States.</p><p>Drew Daniel, a member of experimental electronic duo Matmos who also records as Soft Pink Truth, remembers his experience with dance-music subculture began at free, illegal parties &mdash; the type that would be powered with a generator under a freeway overpass.</p><p>&quot;There were always limits and doubts that I had about the utopian ambitions of the rave era, but there was still a feeling that raving could mean cutting ties to business as usual,&quot; Daniel says. &quot;It&#39;s epitomized in that kind of hilarious gatefold drawing inside one of those early Prodigy LPs.&quot;</p><p>The artwork for the 1994 album&nbsp;Music for the Jilted Generationshows a long-haired raver cutting a bridge that connects the toxic, heavily policed city to an idyllic meadow.</p><p>&quot;That exemplifies this idea that radical forms of dance music could also lead to radical forms of creating community,&quot; Daniel says. &quot;There&#39;s always been a spectrum, so I don&#39;t want to say there used to be a good thing and now there&#39;s a terrible thing &mdash; that&#39;s overly simplified.&quot;</p><p>SFX confronts different sorts of battles. A class-action lawsuit claims Sillerman&#39;s buyout offer was a &quot;sham process.&quot; Another suit, which a federal court judge in Los Angeles ruled may proceed, is from three men who allege they co-founded SFX with Sillerman. Asked about the cases, Sillerman tells NPR, &quot;Without being disrespectful, look at the people who filed them.&quot;</p><p>SFX-owned Beatport came under fire in early August, when it told some artists and labels via email that their royalties were &quot;trapped&quot; in connection with Sillerman&#39;s buy-out deal proposal. Within a week, Beatport reversed course and issued a contrite statement. &quot;I did not pound the table,&quot; acknowledges Sillerman. &quot;I should have and I finally did.&quot;</p><p>SFX has a reputation as particularly business-minded even in the realm of corporate EDM.</p><p>Jason Huvaere and Sam Fotias, co-founders of Paxahau, the production and promotion team behind Detroit&#39;s Movement Electronic Music Festival, differentiate SFX from Live Nation, which signed deals with the likes of Los Angeles promoters Insomniac and HARD.</p><p>&quot;When SFX came in, they had promoters lined up down the block because they were openly selling it as a financial gain,&quot; Huvaere recalls. &quot;That was the big pitch. I got a text once that said, &#39;Do you like money,&#39; question mark.&quot;</p><p>Shirazinia, aka Dubfire, concurs, &quot;Everyone had a price, and Sillerman took advantage of that.&quot;</p><p>Meanwhile, some indicators for the EDM business are less glowing than they once were.</p><p>The global EDM business took in $6.2 billion in revenue in 2014, according to the latest&nbsp;<a href="http://www.internationalmusicsummit.com/img/stand_alone_files/file/original/ims-business-report-2015-na-edition-vfinal-14.pdf">IMS Business Report</a>, growing at a 12% pace compared with 37% in 2013.</p><div id="res445044873"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in September 2013." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/01/gettyimages-182603664_wide-ccbd12772bb47593630d6f911f508303f60932a4-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 337px; width: 600px;" title="TomorrowWorld Electronic Music Festival in September 2013. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>More anecdotally, the EDM-themed Zac Efron vehicle&nbsp;We Are Your Friends&nbsp;opened August 28 for a first-weekend gross of only $1.8 million, one of the worst ever for a wide-release movie.</p></div></div></div><p>And though a slimmed-down iteration of SFX-owned Electric Zoo boasted attendance of 80,000 over Labor Day weekend, the company canceled its planned September 25-26 One Tribe Festival, set to take place outside Los Angeles, citing disappointing sales. Add to that the debacle at TomorrowWorld, which the local authorities have pledged to investigate. The review process will probably start this week, Chattahoochee Hills Mayor Tom Reed says in an email to NPR, &quot;We&#39;ve been focused on first getting everybody out safely, and then cleanup.&quot;</p><p>Another risk factor for SFX in particular and EDM in general is its perceived link with drug use. SFX acquired Electric Zoo in November 2013, just two months after the deaths of two fans and hospitalizations of three others led the event on New York City&#39;s Randall&#39;s Island to close a day early.</p><p>The correlation between EDM and health problems is overstated, suggests Albert &amp; Fried&#39;s Tullo. &quot;Where the industry needs to be vigilant is making sure there&#39;s proper emergency medical attention and security at these festivals to keep everybody safe,&quot; he says.</p><p>Because the EDM business is tailored toward the idea of taking part in an experience rather than watching a performance, it doesn&#39;t necessarily lend itself to the kind of growth needed for SFX to be profitable. &quot;Scaling an experience is difficult to do,&quot; says Brandon Clark, an entertainment lawyer at McKee, Voorhees &amp; Sease who has handled A&amp;R for a small EDM imprint. &quot;That&#39;s almost in the DNA of the experience.&quot;</p><p>As Sillerman explains it, his business strategy for SFX is rooted in sociological theory about the millennial generation. In the rock era, he says, with the dawn of singers writing their own songs, &quot;What you had was a seismic shift where music became an expression and not a reflection.&quot; But &quot;the digital generation,&quot; born in the &#39;90s, &quot;decided to not reflect but to interpret,&quot; which they did through creating &quot;digital music.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We know that the generation today, thankfully, likes to make up its own mind. They don&#39;t make decisions based on movie reviews or restaurant reviews. It&#39;s peer to peer.</p><p>&quot;If you&#39;ve been to an electronic music festival, you&#39;ll see 50,000 kids smiling, dancing, each one telling their own story and interpreting what it means, not being told what they&#39;re listening to. When you think of peer to peer and you think of digital and the freedom that that gives, the cultural impact of the music is unstoppable. And it&#39;s why Justin Bieber and everyone else are asking in, not the other way around.&quot;</p><p>The gravitational pull of a once-$1 billion company is inherently wide. Still, there seems to be broad agreement that dance music&#39;s parallel cultures can find a way to coexist.</p><p>&quot;Dance music will always happen and even have mainstream popularity,&quot; says Smart Bar&#39;s Stamper. &quot;It&#39;s just not going to look the way [SFX] thought.&quot;</p><p>The arrival of big money players hasn&#39;t hurt &quot;the underground culture,&quot; says Paxahau&#39;s Fotias. &quot;It&#39;s almost done more to bring more people to it.&quot;</p><p>Daniel, of Soft Pink Truth and Matmos, says, &quot;There are still plenty of ways that this music can circulate where it&#39;s not tethered to money, whether it&#39;s a SoundCloud culture of people making and sharing weird forms, or whether it&#39;s house parties that are literally house parties, where you aren&#39;t paying to get in the door.&quot;</p><p>He&#39;s careful to note that how much money changes hands doesn&#39;t correlate neatly with the quality of music. But doing events above a certain scale often leads to &quot;increasingly cumbersome and increasingly compromised relationships, and the result is something vulgar and crappy,&quot; Daniel says with a laugh.</p><p>Paxahua&#39;s Huvaere says he can&#39;t take issue with any publicly traded company for seeing an opportunity in the growing dance-music space, though his own business has remained independent. &quot;He&#39;s almost just part of nature,&quot; Huvaere says of Sillerman. In other words, where there&#39;s a chance to make money, someone will take it; whatever can&#39;t be valued in dollar terms is practically beside the point.</p><p>It&#39;s easy to see a disconnect between SFX and the extant culture of dance music. More immediately relevant than any cultural changes embodied by the EDM generation, though, might be the commercial ones. And by any account, SFX has made mistakes of management.</p><p>The former SFX executive contacted by NPR says the company was concentrating on increasingly outmoded ways of marketing. &quot;[There&#39;s] a business shift that goes along with that generational shift,&quot; the executive says. &quot;You don&#39;t centralize the sponsorship anymore. You do more native advertising now. There are just fundamental ways of monetizing the business &mdash; [SFX] are not building the business around that.&quot;</p><p>All signs point to plenty more years ahead for electronic music that people dance to. And it&#39;s too soon to count out SFX, though the company may take on a different form. If and when the results of the bidding process emerge with the October 14 deadline, the future of Sillerman&#39;s empire &mdash; and the living, breathing culture that continues to progress in its shadow &mdash; may soon become clearer than Georgia mud.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/10/06/445039871/edm-after-the-drop-what-a-wounded-corporate-giant-means-for-dance-music-culture"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 15:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/music/edm-after-drop-what-wounded-corporate-giant-means-dance-music-culture-113209 Love in this club: An etiquette guide to Chicago nightlife http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-08/love-club-etiquette-guide-chicago-nightlife-108447 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/deadmau5%20at%20Studio%20Paris%20Chicago.jpg" style="height: 399px; width: 620px; " title="DJ deadmau5 performs at Studio Paris, summer 2012. (Flick/Ross Images)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">At the risk of sounding like <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIkaBwR8W14" target="_blank">Stefon</a>, Chicago&#39;s hottest club is...someplace unexpected. Maybe you&#39;re not a &quot;club person,&quot; but serendipitously find yourself dancing the night away at Danny&#39;s and having the time of your life. Perhaps your loyalty lies with Enclave or The Apartment, but a <a href="http://community-bar.com/?s=secret+disco" target="_blank">&quot;Secret Disco&quot;</a> DJ set at Maria&#39;s Packaged Goods &amp; Community Bar takes you by surprise.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>Of course, the options for dance-y bars and clubs in Chicago are seemingly endless&mdash;Smart Bar, The Mid, Roscoe&#39;s, Studio Paris, Neo, Berlin, Spy Bar, Rainbo Club,&nbsp;Late Bar, Club Foot, The Shrine, Beauty Bar, etc.&mdash;and the crowds differ in personality from one neighborhood to the next. But whether you&#39;re out in Bridgeport or Boystown, River North or Ukranian Village, objectives stabilize at a universal constant: drink, dance like there&#39;s no tomorrow, and find somebody with which to do both of these things in very close proximity (and then some).&nbsp;</p><p>I&#39;ve seen the heady combination of alcohol, dubstep and strobe lights bring out the worst in people; but regardless of whatever form your music-and-dancing adventure may take, the experience doesn&#39;t have to be a painful one. In fact, grooving to Prince or Avicii in the blast of expertly-timed lazers and fog machines could become your new favorite way to spend an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/everybody-gets-down-sustaining-appeal-smart-bar-105676" target="_blank">anything goes</a>&nbsp;kind of night.&nbsp;</p><p>So, for those wanting to make the most of Chicago&#39;s vibrant and eclectic club scene, here&#39;s some tips for enjoying your night out while also a) respecting the people around you, and b) creating a safety zone of guilt-free escapism for youself:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Be nice to the bouncers.</strong></p><p>The Golden Rule is a great life philosophy in general; but if applied to bouncers, could produce some immediate karmic wins. When told to form a line, agree with a smile. Cutting to the front or loudly complaining about the wait will not get you anywhere; in fact, behaving like an arrogant jerk could get you thrown out or even blacklisted (trust me: they <em>will</em> remember you for making a scene). Remember that bouncers have a job to do; and if you make that job easier for them, then you will be rewarded.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Tip well.</strong></p><p>I get the impression that bouncers, bartenders, and other bar staff are not particularly thrilled about serving hundreds of drunk clubgoers at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning, so above-average tips often go a long way. Other simple courtesies, like knowing which shots you would like to order&nbsp;<em>before</em>&nbsp;flagging down a bartender, could result in both quicker service and stiffer drinks.&nbsp;</p><p><b>Respect personal space.</b></p><p>Obviously, staying out of personal &quot;bubbles&quot; can be bit difficult in a packed crowd with little room to breathe, let alone maintain a modest distance.&nbsp;Most club layouts are also specifically designed to squeeze as many sweaty, lustful people together as possible, whether they be out on the dance floor or waiting in the halls. Still, no matter how uncomfortably close you are to the people around you, there is no excuse for being the <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Grind" target="_blank">phantom grinder</a>: the person who creeps up behind an unsuspecting stranger and starts grinding without their permission. If you want to dance with someone, <em>ask</em>&mdash;or at least make some &quot;How about it?&quot; eye contact.&nbsp;If someone is grinding up against you without your consent, either turn around and call them out for being creepy or casually shuffle away.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Wear your dancing shoes.</strong></p><p>Some people can dance all night in high heels without tripping constantly, and that&#39;s awesome. If you are not one of those people, swallow your pride and wear flats. And if you don&#39;t want to be mercilessly stabbed by stilettos on the dance floor, make sure that those flats are closed-toed.</p><p><b>Find the best fit for you, and embrace it.&nbsp;</b></p><p>Do you enjoy EDM (house music, techno, trance, hardstyle, etc.) or would you rather dance to cheesy throwbacks like Madonna and Depeche Mode? Perhaps you prefer mosh-dancing to punk shows at the Empty Bottle, or hanging out in dive bars with no dancing at all.&nbsp;Not everyone enjoys busting a move on the dance floor; but if you&#39;ve never experienced the diversity that Chicago&#39;s club scene has to offer, then what&#39;s the harm in finding a slice of nightlife that works for you? Be a friend to whichever bar or dance club you choose, and the magical nights will follow.</p><p>What is your favorite place for music and dancing in Chicago?&nbsp;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a>&nbsp;a podcast about the future of television. Follow Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 20 Aug 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-08/love-club-etiquette-guide-chicago-nightlife-108447 Everybody gets down: On the sustaining appeal of Smart Bar http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/everybody-gets-down-sustaining-appeal-smart-bar-105676 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/138427143_2dc1c3e82c_z.jpg" title="(Flickr/Chad Magiera)" /></p><p>I was born five years after <a href="http://smartbarchicago.com/"><strong>Smart Bar</strong></a>. I say this not to elicit shock, but to point out this Chicago establishment&#39;s success. Situated underneath the Metro, Smart Bar opened in 1982 and just recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. But to me, Smart Bar will always be a newly minted 21-year-old, all bright-eyed and energetic. It&rsquo;ll always be there for a good time &ndash; or a weird time. And even if you, too, are no longer as young as you feel, Smart Bar will welcome you with no judgment. Truly great places always do.</p><p>This late-night venue, open until 5 a.m. on the weekends, is an institution. It is important for what it has provided in the past &ndash; the bands, the DJ sets &ndash; but also for what it continues to provide right now. I didn&rsquo;t think I would ever hear Joy O, one of my favorite young producers, in Chicago. And then he came here, and he played at Smart Bar. Because of course he did.</p><p>As a genre, electronic music continues to grow. And while Smart Bar stays focused on its core genres (house, techno, drum &amp; bass), it also acts as an outlet for progressive and experimental sounds, music the venue describes as, &ldquo;that future-bassy-techy stuff that can&#39;t really be classified.&rdquo; Smart Bar&#39;s Facebook page proclaims, &ldquo;Whoever is DJing is pretty important. You should find out who they are if you don&#39;t already know.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Smart Bar survives and still feels fresh. Or rather, it never seemed &ldquo;un-fresh&rdquo; to me. Smart Bar gave &ndash; and gives &ndash;&nbsp;names for new and old fans of the venue, never seeming contrite, always getting &ldquo;it&rdquo; (the sounds, the movements, the genres, the passions) right.</p><p>It&#39;s not just that Smart Bar is dark and loud. There are a lot of places that fit that criteria. Sometimes the crowd itself is hit or miss. No, Smart Bar&rsquo;s appeal lies in what it can provide for each patron: sensory overdrive. It is everything all at once. And it is everything with the knowledge that very few places in the city can provide this &nbsp;time and time again.&nbsp;</p><p>I live miles away and yet I&rsquo;ve spent more time at Smart Bar in recent weeks than I have in bars just down the block from my apartment. I&rsquo;ve seen the doormen and the bartenders more times than I have the women who are supposed to be my closest friends. A few weeks ago, I went to the bar to hear a set from Montreal-based producer Jacques Greene. I attended the set with some friends, but we lost each other for large swaths of time and more often than not, I was alone in a sea of bodies there to hear and experience something special.</p><p>I stood again on the dance floor a week later for another set. It was a Thursday evening and I had work the next day, but that mattered little to me. A night out at Smart Bar is not merely a choice of staying out late. It is a choice to be around like-minded souls eager to lose themselves in the freedom of the dance floor. If a dance club is an escape from the outside world, then Smart Bar is the best, providing sounds that are both unique and homegrown, weird and classic, feral and soothing.</p><p>If Chicago is the city that works, then what works here is the filling of the void. We need Smart Bar as much as Smart Bar needs us. Without this relationship, it&#39;s unlikely the venue would survive as it has, and appeal to generations young and old as it has.&nbsp;</p><p>In volume one of literary journal <a href="http://motherwelljournal.org/index.html"><em>Motherwell</em></a>, artist Karthik Pandian wrote an essay on the appeal &ndash; the necessity, even &ndash; of the dance floor. He wrote:</p><blockquote><p><em>Precisely because it is a milieu in which aesthetic, political and sexual relationships are enacted by a mass of subjects and not simply theorized, the club is a microcosm of society. And yet, because these social bodies assemble into a dynamic visual, musical, spatial, kinetic and even poetic montage, the club is a kind of living, total work of art in its own right. Far from eternal, it is a necessarily temporary unity itself composed of countless unpredictable aesthetic and bodily unities and dispersions.</em></p></blockquote><p>Places like Smart Bar provide a necessary escape from the world. This escape is not a means to ignore the reality of the world, with all of its hardships and frustrations. Rather, it&#39;s an outlet for self-care and emotional preservation. It&#39;s a necessary break, one in which the euphoria of the dance floor and the driving rhythms and deep bass mimic the beating of one&rsquo;s heart. Smart Bar &ndash; and the dance floor by extension &ndash; is a place that feels real and necessary. Pandian writes, &ldquo;it is almost as if, in the production of new times, the nightclub incidentally and fleetingly burns off the old.&rdquo; It is a temporary place for the individual, a communal space of like-minded souls in need of everything it can provide: heart, hope, and healing.&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 22 Feb 2013 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-02/everybody-gets-down-sustaining-appeal-smart-bar-105676 Chicagoans search the dial for alternative music as Q101 goes to talk http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-01/chicagoans-search-dial-alternative-music-q101-goes-talk-89899 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-01/Q101.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago has been a significant breeding ground for all kinds of music, from gospel to improvised jazz--and so it was with alternative rock. The genre was huge in Chicago and the FM radio station <a href="http://q101.com/" target="_blank">Q101</a> was at the epicenter. But now, almost 20 years since the alternative rock explosion, record sales are down and alternative is no longer the relevant cultural or artistic category.</p><p>Sunday, Q101, "Chicago’s alternative," officially changed to an all-news format. That switch came after former <a href="http://www.tribune.com/" target="_blank">Tribune Company</a> executive <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/chicago-media-blog/14821755/q101-loop-deal-blows-randy-michaels-back-into-radio-busines" target="_blank">Randy Michaels</a> purchased the station in June. Brooke Hunter, a DJ at the station during its alternative-rock heyday, and Joe Shanahan, owner of <a href="http://metrochicago.com/" target="_blank">Metro</a> and <a href="http://www.smartbarchicago.com/" target="_blank">Smart Bar</a> in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood, joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to talk about the glory days of Q101 and the future of alternative music.</p></p> Mon, 01 Aug 2011 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-01/chicagoans-search-dial-alternative-music-q101-goes-talk-89899 DJ Series: DJ Nate Manic brings his mix out of Smart Bar http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-13/dj-series-dj-nate-manic-brings-his-mix-out-smart-bar-86500 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-13/nate_manic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Nate Seider goes by <a href="http://www.smartbarchicago.com/residents/index.html#nate" target="_blank">Nate Manic</a> when he’s at the turntables. In addition to his own mixes, he’s also the person that selects the DJs who spin at one of Chicago’s long-standing dance clubs: <a href="http://www.smartbarchicago.com/" target="_blank">Smart Bar</a>. He’s also the Talent Buyer and Music Director for the club. He performed in studio for <em>Eight Forty-Eight's</em> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/DJ" target="_blank"><em>DJ Series: A Spinning Season</em></a>.<br> <br> On Saturday, May 14, he'll host a birthday bash at Smart Bar that will feature special guest DJs Lady Foursquare, Mazi and Derrick Carter.</p></p> Fri, 13 May 2011 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-13/dj-series-dj-nate-manic-brings-his-mix-out-smart-bar-86500 DJ Series: Lady Foursquare emerges from underground http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-25/dj-series-lady-foursquare-emerges-underground-82971 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Picture 059.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Marea Stamper has been involved in the Midwest&rsquo;s underground rave and dance scene since her early teens. That&rsquo;s a world that kind of skirts around the edges of the law. Though ravers face unsympathetic legislators and police, Stamper says she&rsquo;ll continue to fight &ndash; and spin &ndash; for your right and hers &ndash; to party! Plus to dance and to play great music!<br /><br />She often DJs under the moniker <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lady-Foursquare/44074067061" target="_blank">Lady Foursquare</a>. Saturday,&nbsp;Feb. 26 she&rsquo;ll throw down a <em>legal </em>set at <a href="http://www.smartbarchicago.com/index.html" target="_blank">Smart Bar</a> in Chicago. She spun for <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> all hour long, helping the show get its rave on and she joined host Alison Cuddy to share a little more about her story and her music.<br /><br />Underground artist Lady Foursquare and her <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Trustus/198426373491" target="_blank">Trustus crew</a> play Thursday nights at <a href="http://www.downtownbarandlounge.com/" target="_blank">Downtown Bar and Lounge</a> on N. State St. in Chicago. Stamper produces her original compositions under the moniker, <a href="http://soundcloud.com/theblackmadonna" target="_blank">The Black Madonna</a>.</p><p><strong>Lady Foursquare's Mini-Set:</strong><br />Roy Davis Jr. &amp; Thomas Bangalter, &quot;Rock Shock&quot; (Thomas Bangalter remix), Rock Shock 12&quot;<br />Thomas Bangalter, &quot;Spinal Beats&quot;, Spinal Scratch 12&quot;<br />The Black Madonna, &quot;From the Narrow Between&quot;, unreleased<br />The Black Madonna, &quot;We Can Never Be Apart&quot;, unreleased</p></p> Fri, 25 Feb 2011 14:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-25/dj-series-lady-foursquare-emerges-underground-82971 DJ Series: DJ and producer Ron Trent brings the beats http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-04/dj-series-dj-and-producer-ron-trent-brings-beats-81772 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Picture 039.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Music courses through <a href="http://www.rontrent.com/" target="_blank">Ron Trent&rsquo;s</a> body like blood through veins. His father was a DJ so it&rsquo;s not surprising that he grew up to be a DJ and music producer himself. Ron was still in his teens when he cut what became his first club hit, &quot;Altered States.&quot; Ever since he&rsquo;s been a mainstay of the music world.<br /><br />DJ Ron Trent provided the sounds for <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> all hour long as part of the DJ Series, and he joined host Alison Cuddy for a sit-down to dig a little deeper into his personal history and art.&nbsp;</p><p>Trent spins at <a href="http://www.smartbarchicago.com/index.html" target="_blank">Smart Bar</a> in Wrigleyville on the first Wednesday of every month and at the <a href="http://www.crocodilechicago.com/" target="_blank">Crocodile Lounge</a> in Wicker Park every second and fourth Thursday of the month.</p><p><strong>DJ Ron Trent's Mini-Set:</strong><br />Erykah Badu, &quot;Honey&quot;, <em>New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War</em> (Motown)<br />Chaz Jankel, &quot;Glad To Know You&quot;, <br />Ron Trent, &quot;Hooked On Your Love&quot;, <em>Dance Classic</em> (Prescription Records)<br />Tamara Wellons, &quot;Smells Like Teen Spirit&quot;, <em>Life Is</em> (Ocha Records)</p></p> Fri, 04 Feb 2011 14:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-04/dj-series-dj-and-producer-ron-trent-brings-beats-81772 DJ Series: Chris Widman brings future music to the masses http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/dj-series-chris-widman-brings-future-music-masses <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Picture 009_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Finding a host to turn the tables in this week's <a href="http://www.wbez.org/DJ"><em>DJ Series</em></a> wasn't all that hard. Chris Widman&rsquo;s just down the radio dial at WBEZ's former sister station, <a href="http://www.wluw.org">WLUW</a>. There he co-hosts <a href="http://abstractscience.net/" target="_blank"><em>Abstract Science</em></a>, a weekly blend of electronic music he describes as &quot;future music.&quot; When he's not behind the community radio microphone, he's out in the clubs - either hovering over a turntable or a computer. His music tastes range far and wide, but he told <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> about his taste for glitch and dub step.<br /><br /><em>Abstract Science</em> airs Thursday nights on WLUW at 10.</p><p>Saturday, Widman will spin at <a href="http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/calendar/index.html#printpalooza" target="_blank">Printapalooza</a> which will take place at the Block Museum at Northwestern University.</p><p>His next regular Subfix residency is Thursday, Feb 10 at <a href="http://www.smartbarchicago.com/" target="_blank">Smart Bar</a>.&nbsp; He's also one half of the electronic group, <a href="http://quadraticmusic.net/" target="_blank">Quadratic</a>.<br /><br /><strong>DJ Chris Widman's Mini-Set:</strong><br />Bill Murray, &quot;Dali Lama caddy monolog&quot;<br />Reso, &quot;Identity&quot; (Civil Music)<br />Matt U, &quot;Compass&quot; (Biscuit Factory)<br />Luke Vibert, &quot;Swet&quot;, Chicago, Detroit, Redruth (Planet Mu)<br />Quadratic, &quot;Padded Life&quot; (unreleased)<br /><em><br /></em></p></p> Fri, 28 Jan 2011 16:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/dj-series-chris-widman-brings-future-music-masses