• Nathan Schenck
  • Milwaukee’s Temple performing at Arby’s

If you’ve lived in Chicago for more than a few years and go to DIY shows with any regularity there’s a good chance you’ve seen at least a few venues close up shop just as quickly as they popped up. This weekend another underground space is shuttering—Arby’s in Rogers Park. The venue has been hosting shows for close to a year and on Saturday night it’ll host its last, with Anthony Sanders, Churchkey, Marcy, Flesh Seeds, Hot Bagels, and Philadelphia’s Mike Bell & the Movies helping say good-bye. Churchkey’s Tim Curley is one of the people behind Arby’s, and he’s been pretty happy with his brief time running the space.

“Ever since I learned about the DIY community I knew that at one point and time I’d really want to run a house,” Curley says. He’d been attending Loyola around the time he found the house that became Arby’s. “Me and one of the other roommates, we took a tour of the place and we saw that it had a basement,” Curley says. “We just realized it was ideal as possible.” Curley and his roommates moved in last May and they started hosting shows in June. Curley had heard of a DIY space in Philly called IHOP, and he decided to riff on it and name his space Arby’s.

Curley says he and his roommates never ran into any trouble hosting shows, partially because there aren’t too many other houses near it—except for their landlord’s place, though Curley’s never heard any complaints. “Some actually parked in the landlord’s parking spot one time while we were loading in for a show and nothing happened,” he says. You have to walk through two doors to get to the actual space where Curley and his roommates hosted shows, and that helped keep any loud noises from leaking out of their basement.

Arby’s hosted mostly punk acts, but “punk” in the broadest sense of the word. “One of my favorite shows we did was my new band’s [Churchkey’s] first show and there was a band from Tennessee—a performance act from Tennessee—called Cigarette Trees,” Curley says. “This guy he had this podium thing with wheels built into it and there was a saw on the end that he was bending to make noise and there was a keyboard in it with a drum machine—he wanted to make us a ‘musical cake.'”

Still, I’ll remember Arby’s as a place that helped the local emo scene continue to evolve and expand—I remember seeing plenty of show lineups at the space featuring new fourth-wave acts. Churchkey is one of those bands, and Curley and his bandmates recorded their recent debut EP, The Great American Challenge, at Arby’s. (Emo microlabel Sorry Girls Records is releasing the cassette version of the EP soon.) Arby’s has been an informal headquarters for Churchkey, which also practiced in that basement.

Churchkey will inevitably find another place to practice and record as Curley and his roommates are moving out. Curley is moving further south—he’s transferring to the University of Illinois Chicago, and he hopes to start another DIY space in his new neighborhood. It’ll certainly be closer to where many of the people who attend Arby’s shows live. Curley says a lot of people came to Rogers Park from Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square, and even though the long trek might’ve seemed discouraging, people still showed up. Tomorrow night’s the last chance to check out a show at Arby’s; for more information e-mail Curley at tcurley93@gmail.com.

Annabel – “Young Americans” live at Arby’s 2/8/2014 from bottomfeeder on Vimeo.