Recently I saw the art-metal band “Pelican” at the Bottom Lounge on Lake Street in the West Loop. It was a Thursday night and I just took a cab over there by myself. Pelican is one of my favorite bands – they play metal in a major key with no solos or lyrics (OK, they did have one song with lyrics). It sounds boring, but definitely isn’t (to me at least). Recently they had a switch out of some key players but since I hadn’t seen them before I couldn’t tell the difference and they sounded fine. Here is a brief movie of them playing “Lost in the Headlights” which is the first song from them that I heard that I really liked.
I was a bit leery of just heading out by myself late at night to a random metal concert but it turned out to be totally misplaced. They had very nicely priced beer ($4!) and the crowd was into the music but almost polite to a fault. Most were dressed in black with a few flannel ones thrown in the mix. The Bottom Lounge also seemed to be a good place to see a show the acoustics seemed OK and they had a good drink selection (and even food, but I didn’t try that). To get a cab I walked a block south down to Randolph street (there are a million restaurants and clubs there) and caught one after a few blocks.
It is pretty sobering how small the crowds are for these various bands. I saw Soundgarden and they sold out the Riviera but that is a small place. While one of the electronic shows can draw 100,000 / day to a racetrack in Chicago rock bands struggle to get anyone to show up. Rock is a niche product now, like jazz used to be when I was growing up (there are exceptions, but not as many new bands as you’d think, and the big ones like Nickleback and Muse are not exactly critical darlings).
Cross posted at LITGM