Indie rock in the ‘90s involved a surprisingly large amount of exposed skin: near-topless performances; deep, deep V-neck shirts; tight jeans that magically did not rip when you jumped in the air. But hey, combined with beers for $1.50, bathroom graffiti, and crowd-surfing, wasn’t it great to be a musician in the pre-Spotify era?
The Empty Bottle Chicago, out June 14 from Curbside Splendor Publishing, aims to reignite nostalgia for sweaty dance floors. The Wicker Park bar Empty Bottle, a hole-in-the-wall that also doubles as one of Rolling Stone’s best rock clubs in America, has played host to rock bands like Flaming Lips, Interpol, OK Go, Arcade Fire, and many others.
“[The band’s facial expression] says, This is what I hoped it would feel like to play a show before I ever got the chance to play a show. You don’t see that look on every band’s face every night; sometimes you go to shows for months on end and never see it at all. When you catch a glimpse of it, you can’t miss it, because it’s a look that welcomes you into the music the same way the people who run and frequent the Empty Bottle welcome traveling musicians into their nightly haunt,” John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats writes in the books introduction. Click ahead to see the backbends, stuffed bunnies, and playing-card pasties.