Nestled on the corner of Cortez and Western in Chicago's up and coming Ukrainian Village neighborhood, The Empty Bottle isn't much to look at. However, like many great music venues, the bar's unremarkable exterior hides a well-kept Chicago secret. The truth is: The Empty Bottle was (and still is!) one of the most important music venues in the city. This rock club was the first stop for acts like the Flaming Lips, Wilco, and the White Stripes on their inaugural US tours. If Buddy Guy’s Legends and Kingston Mines are where you go to see blues, The Empty Bottle is where you go to see rock music.
From the brick walls to the Old Style sign hanging outside, The Empty Bottle is about as authentically Chicago as it gets. This is not a tourist trap, it’s where real Chicagoans go to see live music. Where many underground music venues can feel intimidating and cliquish, The Empty Bottle is welcoming and unpretentious. The Empty Bottle also doubles as a well-beloved neighborhood bar on weeknights. On weekends, however, the venue gets packed. The bar is the perfect place to start a night experiencing Chicago music.
Because of The Empty Bottle’s intimate size, informal “meet and greets” with the musicians are implicitly included in the price of admission (usually $5-$10). There’s even a convenient photo booth located in the bar, if you want to kidnap a band member and take some pictures with them. Bands like the Strokes and Vampire Weekend that played the club as opening bands have gone on to international success. The Empty Bottle is an chance to catch these acts (and maybe challenge them to a game of pool) before they blow up and become stadium-level acts.