As if there weren’t enough going on next weekend, July 15 is the last gig at HotHouse as we know it. The headliner? The audaciously named Zohar, the world-beat, pan-Middle-Eastern, “fusion science” project of Erran Baron Cohen (yes, Borat’s brother—he scored the music for the film).
The Chi-Improv mailing list has had a fascinating ongoing discussion about progressive music venues and the best way to keep them going, and one point that keeps coming up is a culture clash involving low expectations. It’s made me think about how I expect so many of the shows I see as a matter of course to take place in small, dark, dingy rooms with nowhere to sit and minimal, if any, pay for the musicians. The South Loop incarnation of HotHouse had a way of making me feel broke and underdressed—but that’s not the venue’s fault, now is it? Nor is it the fault of other, lower-budget venues so accustomed to making do with very little that they’ve lost a certain level of ambition.
Marguerite Horberg made an interesting point about how unwilling Chicago audiences are to travel to different neighborhoods, especially compared to audiences in New York City. Jason Guthartz pointed out that New York has a much better mass-transit system than Chicago, which of course makes a big difference to the carless. (Location, location, location!) But HotHouse, whether in its Wicker Park or South Loop location, has always been one of the easiest major venues in Chicago to reach by CTA. You can’t fault them for that.
So if you’re not going to Pitchfork next weekend (raise your hand if you’re already sick of hearing about it) or get bored and leave early on Sunday, head over to the HotHouse and dance goodbye.