Independent Venue Week is a national celebration of live music to benefit the country’s independent music venues, many of which have been shuttered since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic—and many of which will close permanently if help doesn’t arrive soon.
The folks who organize IVW also helped pull together the National Association of Independent Venues (NIVA) as it launched in March—you can learn more about the organization’s relationship with Chicago venues from Sleeping Village’s Billy Helmkamp.
Originally planned for July, this year’s Independent Venue Week runs from Saturday, October 24, through Friday, October 30. IVW is presenting concerts at more than 100 venues across the country, including four in Chicago: Detroit glam-punk mainstay Ricky Rat playing (and streaming) a free afternoon gig on the rooftop deck at Reggies’ (Saturday, October 24), an album-release livestream for local polymath Sen Morimoto at Lincoln Hall (Saturday, October 24), the rootsy, subversive rock of Califone with multidisciplinary dance company Robyn Mineko Williams & Artists, also livestreaming from Lincoln Hall (Tuesday, October 27), and the Afro Fusion Halloween party at the Promontory, which requires patrons to reserve a private, socially distanced section of the indoor venue (two sessions on Friday, October 30).
In addition to livestreamed and distanced in-person shows, IVW includes daytime industry panels, a memorabilia auction, and a full day of programming called Get Schooled on October 29 that’s aimed at students interested in entering the music business (details will be shared on IVW’s website as they are announced). Proceeds from the events benefit NIVA’s Emergency Relief Fund, which provides assistance to venues and promoters.
In honor of the occasion—and of all Chicago’s independent music venues—we’ve dug around in the Reader archives to present these stories about some of the city’s most beloved live music spots, past and present.