The club was opened on April 3, 1968 as the Electric Theater by Aaron Russo and was located at 4812 N. Clark Street (NW corner of Clark and Lawrence). The building was constructed in 1928 and at one time included a dance hall, entertainment center, and ice and roller skating rinks, all known as Rainbo Gardens.
Russo was sued by the owners of the Electric Circus in New York, and changed the club's name a few months after the Chicago club's opening, just prior to the performance of Nova Express and Little Boy Blues on August 9–11, 1968.
The club became a driving force in the music business, hosting famous rock bands and musicians such as The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Byrds, Janis Joplin, Coven, The Mothers of Invention, The Grateful Dead, Joe Cocker, Jeff Beck Group, Eric Burdon, The Small Faces, MC5, Jethro Tull, Deep Purple, Iron Butterfly, Buffy Saint Marie, Fleetwood Mac, Rotary Connection, Savoy Brown, Vanilla Fudge, Muddy Waters, and Jefferson Airplane.
The interior of the venue was featured in the film Medium Cool (1969). The movie was filmed on location during the 1968 Democratic Convention and many members of the Playground crew were hired as extras.
Iron Butterfly, Poco, and King Crimson had been booked for a three-night gig at the Kinetic Playground on November 7, 8, and 9, 1969, but a small fire took place in the venue after the November 7 performance. The remaining dates for this line-up were cancelled. The Kinetic Playground later reopened, without the elaborate light show of its earlier incarnation, in late December, 1972, but closed in June, 1973 due to neighbors' complaints about the behavior of concertgoers as well as code compliance issues. In 1975 it planned to reopen as the Emerald Isle Discotheque, but apparently never opened its doors again.
The building was demolished for condominiums in 2003. There is no relationship between the 1968-69 Kinetic Playground and the venue by the same name that operated until 2011 at 1113 W. Lawrence in Chicago, not far from the original.
- "Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL 4812 N. Clark Street: Performance List 1968-69". Retrieved 2011-11-22.
- "The Rainbo Gardens Building, 4812-36 N. Clark St., Chicago". Retrieved 2011-11-22.
- Baker, Robb (August 7, 1968). "The Sound: Music and radio: for young listeners". Chicago Tribune. p. B25. From ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849-1987). (Document ID: 586770362)
- "Historic Interview with Aaron Russo, Fighting Cancer and the New World Order". Retrieved August 2007.
- Electric Theater Concert Archive (April 3, 1968 – July 31, 1968).
- Kinetic Playground Concert Archive (August 9, 1968 – November 7, 1969).
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