Let’s talk bars for a moment. I admit it’s hard for me to give a damn about what the newest hot venue is. I’m a history geek and I feel way more comfortable in the oldest ones. I insist on stamped-tin ceilings. I like 40s pictures with 50s nicotine stains and 70s drink prices. I like lingering grumpy old men who can make me feel like a fashionista by comparison (if they cared, which they don’t).
I like Cal’s, which dates to 1947. I love its testimonials page (though the guy who said they’ve got the “worst bathrooms I’ve ever seen” needs to get out more—they’re pretty bad, but nothing compared to the Porta Johns you find at, say, Burning-Man). And I love their annual Cal’s Fest, the best weekend-long rock ‘n’ roll party you’ll find in the Loop. So I was very distressed to hear that, due to condo construction blocking the alley, this year’s fest will have to be indoors. Yeah. In this weather. And “new condo next door” is rarely long-term good news for a rock venue, for that matter. But the lineup is good: highlights include the Dials, the Mannequin Men, Dorian Taj, the Getouts, Wax Museums, Headache City, and a “once-in-a-lifetime” Phenoms reunion. Andrea Jablonski, currently of Rabid Rabbit, tells me that her band would like to borrow a flatbed truck and a semi-sober driver, if one is out there.