The best charity to young Chicago nighthawks during this depressing economic downturn? Free Mondays at the Empty Bottle.
No cover charge, a Monday night, three bands you’ve hardly heard of, and the room is packed wall to wall, winter coats bulging, shaggy beards sprawling. Only a few stools at the back of the bar, where one man says “I’m too old for this, I just want to sit down.”
A Monday night. Anyone will do anything for free stuff, or at least a $1.50 PBR. A hyper-punk trip called Running grunts and yelps. It’s loud, but not that loud. The music writer from The Reader is here; so is one of the redheads from The 1900s. And an artist, from a long past 2nd Fridays night in Pilsen, with whom drunken stumbling led to a throwaway makeout at the bar in Skylark. She seems to be everywhere these days.
Overheard: “Maybe I’ll meet the man of my dreams, right after I take this shit”; “When I know I’m gonna fuck a guy, I just fuck him, I don’t wait. What’s the point?” “You’re a slut.” “I know.”; and then, finally, in the disintegrating bathroom, “This toilet is being dramatic.”
The band Moonrises takes the stage inside with vengeance, but it’s time to leave. At the outside smoker’s lounge on Western Avenue, the frigid wind interrupts all conversations. A Monday night and the street is full. A homeless man bounces around to each huddled group, speaking what can only be French. (Tom Lynch)