It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of a Chicago institution. The Fireside Bowl. They no longer will be doing shows. For those not aware, The Fireside was an old, run-down bowling alley on the northwest side of town. The lanes were tired and worn, but not nearly as bad as the rest of the place. Someone had the bright idea to book some punk shows there many years ago and a legend was born. Countless bands played there, they had a show nearly every nite. They long since stopped the bowling (in the early days you could bowl during the show) and it was soley a punk rock venue for a good number of years, along with a bar with affordable beer.
I could not tell you how many shows I saw at the place, it was too many to count. I can tell you that every time I saw a show there, it was a good experience. It was at the Fireside that I bowled during a Bollweevils show and tried to get youngdave drunk for the first time but was boozeblocked by his sister, Alison. It was at the Firesdie that I got super drunk and tried to pick up some girl I met, much to the entertainment of my fellow friends (and no, I did not succeed in charming said girl into a date). It was at the Fireside Bowl that I got so drunk at a show that Bob had to drive my car home because I was in no shape to drive and I grabbed his then-girlfriend’s knee while I was “looking for my phone”. It was at the Fireside that I interviewed 7 Seconds, DI, and JFA (whom I had been such a huge fan of for years, and it was that show that was responsible fro me putting out 2 of their records) among others, and it was at the Fireside Bowl that I discovered so many good newer bands and saw friends’ bands play.
When I was at the place a month ago to see Since By Man and These Arms Are Snakes, the place was under construction. They were resurfacing the lanes, they put up a coat of paint on the wall, and they were putting in computer scoring gimmicks and going all out. I knew then that there was no way when it was done that they were going to continue to do shows there. Why invest all that money in a place only to have a bunch of filthy punks trash it?
Much like Lounge Ax, The Fireside was one of my all time favorite places to attend a show. Sure, it was a dump, but it was “our dump”, a place for the punks and fans of good music. The bathrooms were disgusting, so much so that you didn’t even want to take a leak in them. The place had terrible ventilation, so if it was a really crowded show, you’d be dying from the second hand smoke and/or heat. The place had a good sound system and a good atmosphere though. I am really gonna miss that shithole. Goodbye Fireside Bowl, and thank you for the many years of good times. You had a really good run and I’m sorry to see it end.