Monday, August 23, 2010

Chicagoist Previews Mopery Show

Mopery Closing Its Doors

Tiger Hatchery at the Mopery. Image via Tiger Hatchery's site.

It’s been a tough summer for Chicago’s underground music venues. The Bakery in Pilsen stopped holding shows in June and reverted back to being just a plain old residence. The Box Social, Congress Theater’s secretive box office-turned-performance space, closed down suddenly just two weeks ago and canceled a full calendar of shows. And now the Mopery, a hidden gem among Logan Square’s bustling music scene, announced that it will close its doors Aug 28.

A DIY venue since summer 2008, the Mopery is a collaborative effort run by Jason Comacho and Mike Hart of Lechuguillas and Mike Forbes and Andrew Young of Tiger Hatchery, all longtime friends hailing from Denton, TX. But, as Comacho tells us, these guys didn’t relocate to Chicago intending to start up an underground venue. Looking for a place suitable as both a residence and practice space, they made their home in the huge converted warehouse that is now known as the Mopery. They’d often invite friends over for jam sessions, and when more and more people started showing up it just eventually blossomed into the notable underground venue it is now.

In its two years, the Mopery has served as a haven (though maybe a dank and dirty one) for little-known local noise and experimental acts. As have so many DIY venues before, it’s closing due to the landlord’s request and fear of legal repercussions of operating without a Public Place of Amusement license, which is required for all entertainment establishments in Chicago. Unlike commercial venues that benefit from exposure, underground performance spaces are adversely affected, as growing popularity puts them at greater risk of being discovered and shut down by the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing. Many unlicensed venues try to avoid this by simply not publicizing the venue or promoting shows, but this often leads to a fizzling out when they simply can’t bring in enough funds to stay open.

As sad as it is to watch the underdog lose, maybe these types of venues are better off short-lived. After all, if a particular space were allowed to become too popular, it would lose its inherent intimacy and exclusivity and draw in a broader audience that might not embrace the creative freedom of experimental music. And besides, it seems that when one venue closes in this city another is discreetly opening its doors. Comacho tells us that the guys behind the Mopery have no intention of starting up another performance space in the future, not because of the legal hoopla, but rather because they don’t want to force it - after all, the Mopery came about by happenstance. And when asked to recommend another DIY venue, Comacho declined because he didn’t want to expose an unlicensed space, and instead simply said, “They’ll know how to find it if they want to find it.”

If you want to experience the Mopery before it’s gone for good, check out their final show Saturday, Aug 28. But be aware that this hidden gem is quite literally hidden. Nestled between a grocery store and a Pearle Vision, the entrance to the Mopery has no sign, just a steel slab door that leads you up a stairwell and into the converted warehouse. It’s BYOB, but you can walk a block south to Red Star Liquors and choose your beverage of choice. Make sure you pick up plenty, because with its 12-band line-up, this show is sure to run late into the night. Full line-up after the jump.

The Mopery’s final show is Saturday, August 28 at 7 p.m., Suggested Donation, All Ages

Mopery Final Show Line-up

Loose Dudes

Paper Mice

Bad Drugs
Unmanned Ship

Sun Splitter


Mark Solotroff

Jason Soliday

Tiger Hatchery