High school: “Is it safe where you’re driving?” ‘Yes, mom. I’ve been there a bunch of times…it’s in a good neighborhood.’
Insert busted out car windows and our protagonist passes the threshold into a dingy, darkly lit building. Ceiling tiles are not crumbling, but punched out. Stains of all shapes, varieties and colors litter places where stains should never have formed. The bathroom puts the third world to shame, but is the mecca for stickers and scribblings. No one sat, everyone was forced to stand. And to the crowd’s right is a decrepit wasteland of a rarely used bowling alley, post-apocalypse. Welcome to my heaven. Welcome back to the Fireside Bowl.
The Fireside saw the cradle to the grave of hundreds of bands in its lifespan, many of which are still kicking today: Rise Against, The Tossers, Alkaline Trio… You went there out of blind faith that every night of the week-and never was disappointed. In 2004, the owners changed heart and reverted the revered venue back into a bowling alley for family fun. It decimated the punk scene in the city, particularly with the impending closure of Belmont & Clark’s The Bottom Lounge (reopened later in another part of the city).
It’s with much high school happiness that I help spread the gospel that the Fireside is back doing shows again. It may not be as dirt-covered as before, but Chicago just got its home back.