On Wednesday night, I ran from one lit-up Old Style marquee to the next: the Ez Inn afforded me a nice booth and beer before a night of standing and Red Bull concoctions at the Empty Bottle.
The Empty Bottle holds a special place in the hearts of many Chicagoans. The 350-person venue consists of a front room where a billiards table takes up most of the real estate alongside a photo booth and claw machine, the November 17 show also included a Red Bull booth supplying branded stickers and postcards, and a longer room featuring the bar and stage. Posters with the night’s line-up, Parquet Courts, Built to Spill, Meat Wave and Good Willsmith, hung in mobs around the bathrooms, adding to the thousands of other gig posters plastering the walls like an eclectic wallpaper.
Red Bull updated the bar and stage area of the venue as well, supplying luminous blue signs with hashtags and corporate reminders. The bar was offering themed drinks called American Specialty (whiskey, orange juice, amaretto, lemon juice and Red Bull Orange Edition) and The Brooklyn Bag (mezcal, ginger syrup, lime juice and Red Bull Yellow Edition served in a clear pouch with a zip-top — a great, spill-proof invention for a rock show where you plan to both mosh and sip mezcal, in my opinion).
The show featured local openers Good Willsmith and Meat Wave, alongside the surprise addition of famed 90s indie rock band Built to Spill, announced just a few days before the show. Built to Spill’s three-member showcase channeled their REM vibes for the older crowd and their Death Cab for Cutie vibes for the youngins — as such, their set was universally likable.
Parquet Courts’ eclectic personalities were on full display at the show: A. Savage wore a striped polo and jeans, Sean Yeaton embraced the dude-rock look in a black tee and a hairstyle that was put through the ringer throughout the show, Austin Brown wore a button-up under a sweater embracing Wes Anderson-twee and Max Savage wore an understated button-up behind his drum set.
The band embraced the night, alternating playing to the audience and to the amps — the feedback was roaring from both entities. Their set peaked as they played “Master of My Craft” into “Borrowed Time,” the first and second tracks off their debut album “Light Up Gold + Tally All The Things That You Broke”: the crowd moshed with a roaring sense of tumultuous testosterone fueled by taurine.
The band held conflicting opinions on the caffeine concoctions sponsoring the night: Savage decried its health-effects while Brown admitted to drinking it regularly. Ultimately Savage confessed to being on his third American Specialty of the night.
However, the band could cohesively denounce the person who stole 43 of the 50 LPs they brought to the show. They offered a 30 second judgement-free grace period for the thief to return the goods and warned the audience members to watch out for a lot of 43 Parquet Courts records on Discogs or Ebay. The joke ran throughout the night as a sort of melancholy stage banter.
Parquet Courts played through 12:45 a.m., a set lasting over an hour and a half (the longest of any 30 Days show I’ve seen) and treated fans who could afford the late night to “Berlin Got Blurry,” another highlight of the show. Luckily, Red Bull provided greasy-carb fodder on the way out — slices of Meat Wave-themed pizza sat inside branded boxes at the door. I entered my Uber with a slice in hand and the band’s bass-guided anthems sonorous in my ears.