Lounge Ax, Chicago IL

Lounge Ax

(R.I.P. 1987-2000)

The birthplace of great Chicago bands such as Urge Overkill, Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt and Liz Phair, Lounge Ax closed its doors on January 15th 2000. The bar was still very popular and sits on prime real estate in the heart of Lincoln Park/DePaul University neighborhood. However, noise complaints from a nearby neighbor eventually forced its closing.

It wasn't the best place to see a band, but it was the best club in Chicago to hear outstanding alternative rock and country. Lounge Ax was a typical narrow Chicago style storefront. Standing by the bar area, you might catch a glimpse of musician's heads and the tops of their instruments. Nevertheless, the bar attracted both loyal customers who came for the beer on non-show nights and alternative music fans.

Liz Phair at Lounge Ax, before she went glam

The list of well-known alternative and alt-country bands that played at Lounge Ax is long and distinguished:

Every Monday night, regional entertainer Pat McCurdy would play to adoring fans. The regular crowd shouted out requests and sang-along to Pat's improvisational lyrics. Pat now plays at Chicago's Beat Kitchen.

In 1995, Tweedy married Lounge Ax co-owner Sue Miller. Occasionally, Wilco's Jeff would play a solo show at Lounge Ax. In addition to Wilco songs, Jeff would play some very inspired covers. I seem to remember two shows in the late 90's, one where he played Blondie's Dreaming and another where he played the Kink's Oklahoma USA. Tweedy may have been inspired by the Yo La Tengo version from 1990.

January 15th was the last date played at Lounge Ax and I believe that the 17th was moving day. It was a sad day for Chicago.


Chicago Bar Project: Lounge Ax Tribute Site
Lounge Ax: The Official Site

Photo Credits

Sean Parnell: author of the Chicago Bar Project

  • Stephan@RacingSquirrel.com
  • 2004-2005, Stephan Lau-- Chicago Illinois USA