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The Empty Bottle
Live Music Venue
Today 5:00 pm – 2:00 am
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1035 N Western Ave Chicago, IL 60622
1035 North Western AvenueUSIllinoisChicago60622
Live Music Venue, BarToday 5:00 pm – 2:00 am
Monday 5:00 pm – 2:00 amTuesday 5:00 pm – 2:00 amWednesday 5:00 pm – 2:00 amThursday 3:00 pm – 2:00 amFriday 3:00 pm – 2:00 amSaturday 11:00 am – 3:00 amSunday 11:00 am – 2:00 am
Est. 1992
Music, Friendly, Dancing
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Review Summary
96 reviews
5 star
51 reviews
4 star
34 reviews
3 star
8 reviews
2 star
1 review
1 star
2 reviews
Indie music venue & bar hosting alternative bands in a somewhat small space with cheap drinks.- Google
"The offer a variety of daily drink specials, centering on shots of cheap booze."
"The venue is interesting, very much a dive bar."
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Jeb Hagan
a month ago
Enough has been said about the gritty, divey feel of the place and the good selection of cheap beers (and a few middlebrow ones). Service is fine too, no problem there. The big problem with Empty Bottle is the sound. I've been to three different shows in the last couple of months. The first time I went was to see Hide, Gel Set, Hogg, and Spa Moans. I hadn't heard any of them before, but it was a free show, so I went to check it out. I stayed for the first two artists and then left, it was such a terrible show. Both of them just sounded like a muddy mess, nothing like the experimental, ethereal electronic sound described in the promo material. I chalked it up to it being a free Monday show. A few weeks later I went there for Le Tour, Absolutely Not, and Swimsuit Addition. A friend whose taste I trust said it would be a good lineup. I found Swimsuit Addition to be barely listenable, and the others just sounded like an amateurish, thrashy, screaming mess. But I came back to Empty Bottle one more time though because Colleen Green was headlining. I really like her sparse guitar sound and laid-back vocals. My friend was there again, and assured me that one of the openers, Jaill, was really great. I suffered through Jaill's performance, where every song sounded the same: like some brain-damaged butt rock played by 5 guitars at once with the gain on 11. But by this time, I was beginning to catch on that something was wrong with the sound. When I went up near the stage to hear Colleen Green, my suspicion was confirmed--the sound in the bar sounded only a little like Green's recordings, her voice was entirely drowned out by the mix. No one could make out a word she was saying. I went home and got online, looked up the Soundcloud page for Spa Moans--haunting, dreamy, and atmospheric, none of which came through live. I looked up Jaill on Spotify, and it wasn't butt rock at all, it was smart jangle pop with keyboards, tambourine, backing vocals, and melodic riffs, all of which got complete brickwalled by EB's sound engineering. Finally, I looked up Swimsuit Addition's Bandcamp page, and they have some loud punky songs, but also some delicately layered and arranged songs with sugar-sweet vocals, none of which I would know if I had only heard them getting steamrolled by the loudness war at Empty Bottle. The sign behind the bar says it's loud. The problem isn't the volume, though, it's loudness in the sense of too much dynamic range compression. I'm guessing that what's happening is the music is mixed so guitar and drum drown out everything else, the whole thing is squished flat, and then cranked up again so every song by every artist just sounds like you're being beaten over the head by a 2x4 made of distortion. What a shame.
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Aimee Dewante's profile photo
Aimee Dewante
4 months ago
Classic Chicago music venue with plenty of standing room, a good beer list with plenty on tap, and pool tables. Supports new bands, but established groups come back to play here too. Also, right next door to a great restaurant if you get hungry (or vice versa - in the restaurant you can order drinks from the Empty Bottle).
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Claudia Herrera
10 months ago
The perfect place to see up and coming acts, or see an established artist in a cozier space. There is ample floor space, and if you're there for the bar you won't be suffocated by the people there for the live music. There is also a back room, complete with pool table and some arcade games, where you can see what's happening onstage via live feed on a monitor in the room. It's a cool, authentic venue, the type where you'll find the bathrooms decked out in graffiti, and the walls full of old and new show posters. Check it out any night of the week!
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Sean Boyle
a year ago
I came here for a concert that I had won a couple of tickets to. The venue is interesting, very much a dive bar. They have a surprisingly decent beer list, some of which is on tap. The drink specials were good, but this place is all about the music. The band I went to see didn't end up going on until about 2 and a half hours after the "start" time of the concert. The opening acts were alright, but mostly just wasted time before the main performance. This place is loud! They even sell earplugs at the bar, which might be necessary if you get up close and personal to the performance. The bathroom was a bit dirty, which is not particularly surprising.
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Justin Lee
3 months ago
This gem falls in the smaller sized venue range, similar to Schubas. Has a lovely divey feel to it in an up and coming neighborhood. My personal highlight was catching Benjamin Booker for a hosted party before he blew up and toured with Jack White.
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Richard Foulkes
7 months ago
Live music rules! Yet another cheap place to get you music heard! Plus a great eaterie next door. Small and volume is always the drummers fault! Does every drummer have to slam it like John Bonham? This kind of place is why Chicago can grow and support some great bands!
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Aleksey Ivanuk
10 months ago
Basically a dive bar with live music. Was strange not ordering a PBR. it felt like I was the only one not drinking one. I get this is a cool and hip place but does it really have to look like a shit hole inside. 5 stars since I guess its seems like the perfect place for the crowd that shows up.
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Dylan C
a year ago
I've been right next to this place numerous times because I always visit Bite Cafe when I'm in Chicago. Finally had a chance to check out the venue and overall it was great. The place gives off a very intimate underground vibe. There's a pool table and a couch in the front room, an arcade corner, and the walls are lined with band posters. The stage is right next to the bar and fairly small but good sound quality. My only issue is that sometimes the speakers are way too loud. I've been to many concerts, standing near massive speaker systems, but this was so bad that I had to put in ear plugs (was lucky enough to bring someone along who had some). I felt like my ear drums were punctured even with them in and had to leave towards the end of the set with a headache.
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