[chicago: may 2005]

Heyas. Sorry I was so slow with my review of the Chicago trip. I had a lot of details I wanted to remember and try to describe. I thought I would make this review in web form so you could more easily skip over the parts that don't interest you and also so I could integrate some links/pics.

05/02/05: Monday: Me and Tom drove to CHI from STL in about 5 hours. Weather was very nice with blue skies and some scattered clouds. Arrived and checked into our usual cheap motel. The room didn't seem as scary as in past visits. Maybe I was just more prepared knowing what to expect. At any rate, it was fine though by no means luxurious.


Drove to Gino's Pizzeria on Rush St. to meet up with Kurt, Cathy & Todd. To sum up the experience, the service was horrid but the pizza was quite good. Maybe they should consider being a carry-out or delivery only type of establishment. It was "Chicago style pizza" only it looked nothing like Giordano's. The crust was fat and yummy tho. Our waiter was incredibly rude and unhelpful. He would take plates/beers away that we were still working on. Also the beers (domestic bottles) were $5 each. We were slightly in awe when the bill came. However, the food was normally priced. Here is a pic of us at Gino's.

After dinner we decided we had time for one drink so we walked down the street. I took a pic of some building. Then I saw Cru, the wine bar Stephanie had mentioned to me the week before. We peeked in and had a look at it and it looked cute inside but a lil too mellow for us to start the evening with so we continued on. (Also a Michelle Pffeifer looking-woman looked at us with disdain when we walked in.) So we left there and ended up at a fancyish bar called Jilly's. It appeared to be dedicated to the Sinatra "Rat Pack" and had pics of them around and they sold cigars and fancy drinks. I had a yummy raspberry flavored shot involving chambord and then a beer. Then we had to dash out to make it to our concert so we said bye to Cathy, Kurt and Todd.


Rasputina: We walked the mile or so to House Of Blues. The walk made us very sweaty even though it was very cold outside. We arrived just in time for Rasputina to take the stage. We had missed the opening band, the Hazard County Girls. Ah well. The venue was very cute and clean and we had a fine view of the band and we could be very close to the stage without feeling cramped.

Melora was wearing two big indian feathers in her hair and some indian style fringey boots. I couldn't have been more pleased, as they played about a million of my most fave songs. Here is the setlist as I remember it, though not in order. Afterward I bought a glow in the dark sticker and their live cd "A Radical Recital" at the merch table and we hung around for about 30 minutes hoping they'd come out. The girls never did, though the drummer Jonathan came out and was signing some things. I overheard him tell someone that Diamond Mind was not planned and that she had just thrown it in on the spot. Fun stuff.

[bar hopping]

Afterward, we had a drink at the House of Blues bar. It had a strange TGIF vibe to me, only with a live blues band and a reek of cigars. We didn't stay long.

We started walking back to the car but then noticed an Adult Bookstore in the distance. We went in for awhile and laughed at all the pr0n. At some point Tom accidentally made eye contact with an middle aged man who was getting change for the video booths. eek.

We continued walking back towards where my car was parked and decided to just stop in at any bars along the way that looked interesting. First stop was one called Howl At The Moon which turned out to be a duelling piano bar with 2 pianos and a live band. We stayed for a few drinks and watched as they sang several songs including Great Balls of Fire and a rousing jazzy rendition of I Like Big Butts. Thus, making it the second time in about 2 hours we had heard that song performed live in Chicago. (why??) There were many grandma and grandpa looking people in there singing their hearts out.

Next we went in some Irishy named bar across the street. Name escapes me. Had a big long bar which we sat at and drank some Guinness and other things. Best part was what Tom saw in the bathroom. On the hand dryer, next to the familiar illustration, someone had written in further instructions: "Press Button, Receive Bacon." This made us laugh for a long while.

Next we went in some big cheesy club called Excalibur. According to their website the building is old and haunted. It had several levels. They had many beer taps but apparently nothing whatsoever on draught. Weird? Anyway there were many desparate looking men standing around by the bar sort of watching a couple girls dance out on the dance floor to Z107.7 type songs by Lil John and others. We went exploring and found another level with video games and pool tables. I kicked Tom's butt at Tekken and then we played pool for awhile. We left there and continued walking.

Some guy on the street attacked Tom's shoes with some "shoe shining liquid" because he accidentally paused when he came up to us. The guy proceeded to buff and brush his shoes till they were shiny, babbling on the entire time about how he was "a good Christian man with a wife and kids." Afterward, Tom tried to give him a couple bucks but the man insisted this shoe shine cost $20. So Tom got scammed outta $20 cuz after about 10 min the shoes had miraculously returned to their original state of unpolishedness. After that, we went back to the car and called it a night.


05/03/05: Tuesday: Slept late and then went and ate brekkie/lunch at Clarke's on Belmont. I had remembered their cheesy potatoes from last time and vowed to return asap. We had some lovely coffee and then delish foods. Tom had some massive cheesy-eggs-with-meats over potatoes thing and I had cheesy potatoes and a BLT. I heard a Jem song while we were eating and that made me happy.

Saw a Heineken truck by my car. Mmm beer.


We drove to the Museum of Science and Industry but got lost on the way and took some pics by the lake near the Aquarium. Me, and Tom.

We were originally going to go to the Museum of Science and Industry just to see the Bodyworlds Exhibit again since we had seen it a few years ago in London and been pretty interested in it. However, Kurt had also mentioned the day before that there was also a Game On video game retrospective exhibit going on so we ended up going to both.

Game On!: With over 100 games you could play, we clearly needed more time than the 2 hours we ended up spending there. If you plan to go, go early in the day to get the most out of your $5. Worth checking out. I mainly played Dig-Dug but that was fun for nostalgia's sake.

Bodyworlds: This was freaky as before. There were a few new items too like a cross section of an overweight person next to one of a skinny person.

Afterward we went back to the motel and dropped off our car. Turned out the New Order venue The Aragon Ballroom was only a mile from the motel. We walked up there and saw the massive line of ppl snaking around the building and decided to go get some food first. We ate noodles at a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant called Dong Ky that was attached to an Asian Grocery store. The food was good and super cheap. $12 for 2 big entrees and an appetizer.

[new order]

New Order: We arrived at Aragon Ballroom and it was packed. The show was sold out and the people were pouring in. We found out the only alcohol available was small cups of Miller Lite or MGD which were $6 each. Cash only, mind you. You could also get a tiny cup of water for $3. Isn't that a great deal? The place was pretty large and had several levels. The main floor was long but not slanted at all and reminded me of a big gymnasium. There were upper balconies also. I bought a cool blue t-shirt from the merch booth that has a yellow leaf on it from the True Faith video and says True Faith on the sleeve and New Order on the back in white. We tried to find Kurt, Cathy & Todd in the crowd but were unsuccessful.

The opening band were called The Assassins and they were ok. A girl sang some of the songs and a guy sang some. Some were better than others. I'd have to hear more to make a good assessment. If you have some mp3s of theirs, hook me up pls.

Finally, New Order came on. We were sort of in the middle of the massive main floor. Which is to say sort of halfway back and to the right. It was my first time seeing Barney, Hooky and Stephen in the flesh so that was cool. If only Gillian had been there!

It was super super super hot and crowded. People were trying to dance but for the most part they were not playing their danciest songs. Here is the setlist. I was very disappointed there was nothing played from Technique. At least they avoided the bombs from the last album. The stuff they played from the new album was fine though probly the best trax in my opinion were Love Vigilantes (yay!) and Crystal. They added some random synthy bits to True Faith that made it a bit cheesey. Please, do not mess with perfection! And the version of Blue Monday they played had the Kylie bits mixed in which surprised me greatly. I can understand the mix as a funny novelty thing but not for when they are playing their first live show in eons...

Towards the end of the show we went up on one of of the top levels where there was much more cool air and slightly more space though pretty much no view of the stage and just danced around.

Barney kept talking to the crowd between songs and no matter what he said, afterward he would pause and say "that was a joke." Which ended up being our catch-phrase of the next few days.

To summarize, I was really glad I got to see them play live once before I die though I would have had a better time if I had been closer to the stage and less hot and if they had played something from Technique. Also those drink prices were insane. I would think hard before returning to this venue.

[bar hopping, continued]

Afterward, we finally found Kurt, Cathy and Todd and we went in search of the official afterparty at Neo. We arrived and found it to be at max capacity and they weren't letting anyone else in. We left and went to a cool gay bar called Berlin instead. Sat around chatting and drinking. Also around this time I started developing the killer sore throat from hell.

After awhile, Cathy, Todd and Kurt left and me and Tom continued on to a bar next door called Big City Tap. This place ended up being pretty cool cuz all their draughts were $2 each and they were still serving food and had a large menu (I think it was about 2am). We ate some tater tots with cheese dipping sauce and had several more beers. At some point we started chatting with a drunk guy next to us at the bar. He told us he was from Columbus, OH and is in a band called Thee Invaders. He was going on and on about how cool Chicago is and how he wants to move there. He was impressed that I knew of the club called The Outland in Columbus where I had once seen Xymox with my friend Dave. He said that club was now closed but that he had once played there also. Around 3:15am we got a cab back home. zzzzzz.

[pizza, more]

05/04/05: Wednesday: I awoke feeling achey and slightly fevery like I had a cold or flu thing coming on. We checked out of the motel and went in search of food. I decided I needed Chicago pizza one more time so we went to Giordano's. Turned out there was one not far from our motel on Sheridan that we never knew about. To get there we drove through Loyola campus. I hadn't realized we were so close to that either. I guess we should drive around unknown areas more often. ;) It was a harsh contrast to Gino's in that the service was excellent. I had hot tea and we also split a fabby greek salad (recommended!) The pizza arrived lava-hot with gooey cheese and hefty red tomato awesomeness. Due to my fever and chillsness I could only eat one piece so we saved the rest for later. We walked by a place I wanna check out later called Panini Panini.

Then we hit the road and drove home! I made Tom drive most of the way cuz I was illin. Props to Tom. Overall it was a fun, fun time. No rain or icy spinouts to report this time, thankfully. :)

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