Metro Chicago

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This page is about the concert hall; for the metro region surrounding Chicago, see Chicago metropolitan area.

Former names Cabaret Metro
Address 3730 N. Clark Street
Location Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates 41°57′0″N 87°39′31″W / 41.95000°N 87.65861°W / 41.95000; -87.65861Coordinates: 41°57′0″N 87°39′31″W / 41.95000°N 87.65861°W / 41.95000; -87.65861
Owner Joe Shanahan
Built 1927
Opened July 1982 (1982-07)

Metro (formerly Cabaret Metro) is a concert hall at 3730 N. Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois that plays host to a variety of local, regional and national emerging bands and musicians. The Metro was first opened in 1982. The capacity is 1100, divided between the main floor and the balcony. The building housing Metro also houses Smart Bar underneath the main venue.


In the late 1970s, owner Joe Shanahan left his hometown of Chicago for New York City to live in the midst of the developing art, music and dance culture. One year later, he returned to Chicago with the thought of creating a club tied to the artistic scene of Chicago. [1]

After the parties he was throwing outgrew his apartment, Shanahan was directed to the Northside Auditorium Building. The building was originally built in 1927 as a Swedish Community Center.[2] When Shanahan came across it, it was home to a jazz/folk club, Stages.

Shanahan opened Smart Bar in July 1982. A dance club mixing a variety of the new genres of the time, Smart Bar was located on the fourth floor of the building, which now houses the offices of the Metro staff. Groundbreaking DJs Frankie Knuckles and Joe Smooth would spin regularly. Bands like Ministry showcased their new "industrial" music by playing tapes of freshly recorded tracks for the crowd.

In August 1982, Shanahan had the opportunity to promote a show in "the big room" with a then little known band he met in New York. Using the name of his production company, Latest Creations, he placed his first advertisement in the Chicago Reader, and drew posters and flyers. For a five dollar cover charge, Chicago saw this show featuring a little-known band from Athens, Georgia - R.E.M. The show was a success and Shanahan began booking the club's weekend slots, gradually taking over the main floor of Stages. After taking over, he moved Smart Bar from the fourth floor to the basement of the building. Metro, then called Cabaret Metro, was re-opened as a live music venue in its current space.

Metro began paving its path with local bands like Naked Raygun and Big Black. Soon, the club looked to other cities to achieve its goal. New York for Sonic Youth and the Ramones. Athens for R.E.M. and Pylon. Minneapolis for The Replacements, Hüsker Dü and Soul Asylum. Texas for the Butthole Surfers, and California for X and The Bangles. In Metro's first year of business, it hosted future music heavyweights New Order, Depeche Mode, Killing Joke, Billy Idol and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Metro opened doors not only for artists but also for new genres of music - the club figured heavily in the early industrial explosion, welcoming artists such as Cabaret Voltaire, KMFDM, and Einstürzende Neubauten.

During this time, Metro began a long-standing relationship with Chicago's own Jam Productions. This symbiotic relationship with one of the country's last independent concert promoters has helped Metro remain true to its own independent entrepreneurial roots. It allows Metro to take its promotional sensibility outside its four walls to continue working with artists as they move to larger venues.

The 1990s brought the rise of grunge and alternative music. The Smashing Pumpkins, Urge Overkill, Liz Phair and Veruca Salt began their careers in Metro's backyard. From Seattle came Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney. Los Angeles brought Jane's Addiction and a relationship with Perry Farrell that continues to this day. Many bands from Britain, such as Oasis (band) and the Manic Street Preachers played their early gigs at the Metro in an attempt to break America. The Metro is one of the most important locations in the history of native Smashing Pumpkins, who played their first and last gig, before their reunification seven years later, at the Metro. The Metro also hosted one of the last Blind Melon shows with Shannon Hoon on September 27, 1995. Hoon would die of a drug overdose less than a month later. Additionally, Jeff Buckley filmed his only concert DVD at the Metro before dying.

Metro is also a place that celebrates the American and British roots of rock and roll. Legendary artists including James Brown, Iggy Pop, George Clinton, Joe Strummer and Prince have all performed for the Metro crowd. Shanahan names as a career highlight when Bob Dylan performed two shows at Metro to celebrate the club's 15th Anniversary.

Some of today's prominent music makers have also cut their teeth at Metro. The White Stripes, Alkaline Trio, The Killers, No Doubt, Disturbed, Chevelle, Travis, Jimmy Eat World, Interpol, The Frames, Jack Johnson, Kanye West, Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, Moby, The Faint, Fatboy Slim, Arctic Monkeys, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Academy Is..., Chance the Rapper, Fall Out Boy, Kill Hannah, and many more. Local bands can get booked at Metro through the same method used in the club's earliest days, sending a demo. [3]

25th Anniversary Year[edit]

On July 22, 2007, Metro celebrated its 25th Anniversary. The 25th anniversary year kicked off with a free public concert at Millennium Park's Pritkzer Pavilion with the Decemberists backed by the Grant Park Orchestra.[4] On July 21, 2007, Metro held an employee reunion and public party to count down the hours to the official anniversary at midnight on July 22, 2007.[5]

On October 11, 2007, Metro's owner Joe Shanahan was awarded a Recording Academy Honors from the Chicago Chapter of The Recording Academy in recognition of Metro's 25 years in the Chicago music community. [6]


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  4. ^ "". Daily Herald (Arlington Heights). 2007-08-19.  External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ "". 2007-08-19.  External link in |title= (help)
  6. ^ ",WKP-News-out05iNorth.article". Chicago Sun-Times. 2007-10-16.  External link in |title= (help)

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