This week’s fantasy gig comes to the Reader from local artist Daniel Williams and takes us to a long-shuttered venue in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.
Williams created a gig poster for an imaginary concert at the Peoples Theatre, which once stood at 1620 W. 47th. The Peoples Theatre opened in 1919 and hosted vaudeville and musical acts. The theater later added movie screenings to its mix of entertainment, and it continued to operate until 1989. The building, near the corner of 47th and Ashland, was demolished in 2001, and a Walgreens took over the site a few years later.
The artist imagines a Patti Smith concert at the Peoples Theatre, taking place in perhaps the late 1970s or 1980. “Being in quarantine in Chicago had me thinking about artists, landmarks, things that have vanished, history, and the stories we tell,” says Williams. “Plus it’s Patti Smith performing on the south side.” Though she actually made her Chicago debut at the Park West in April 1978, it’s easy to imagine a young, punk Patti Smith commanding a stage in the shadow of the stockyards, bringing her sonic poetry to life for the neighborhood.
The Reader continues to accept submissions of fantasy gig posters to be featured in this column. To participate, please e-mail email@example.com with your name, contact information, and your original design or drawing (you can attach a JPG or PNG file or provide a download link). We won’t be able to publish every submission, but we’ll feature as many as possible while the pandemic continues. Your submission can also include a nonprofit, fundraiser, or action campaign that you’d like to bring to the attention of our readers.
Not everybody can make a fantasy gig poster, of course, but it’s simple and free to take action through the website of the National Independent Venue Association—click here to tell your representatives to save our homegrown music ecosystems. And anybody with a few bucks to spare can support the out-of-work staffers at Chicago’s venues—here’s our list of fundraisers. Lastly, don’t forget record stores! The Reader has published a list of local stores that will let you shop remotely.
ARTIST: Daniel Williams
FANTASY GIG: Patti Smith at the Peoples Theatre on Friday, June 20, 1980
ARTIST INFO: cargocollective.com/djw
NPO TO KNOW: Williams would like you to learn about and donate to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS).