Space Place

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MKB's SP membership card

Space Place was a popular punk venue from 1979 to 1983. It was located on 955 W. Fulton - 3 blks. west of Halsted, just north of Lake St. They played all-ages shows every Saturday, which was $3 for three bands and BYOB. It was also a place where bands could rehearse, record or rent out equipment. Space Place was a total community effort and was officially a non-profit organization. The biggest names to play Space Place were Bauhaus and Black Flag.

History as told by Rich Harrington

Space Place was located at 955 W. Fulton Market at Morgan on the Fulton fish market. Down the street, one of the meat packers had a warning sign over the sidewalk 'Watch Out For Swinging Beef'. We appropriated that both as a warning and a motto.

The joint was primarily organized by Rachael Cain (Screamin' Rachel of Screamin' Rachel & Remote) and my brother Mike Harrington who were dating at the time. Mike primarily handled booking the bands and shows. I lived in the joint to provide 24 hour security and 24 hour load in/out and ran the day to day operations. I also was the stage manager and ran sound for bands who didn't have their own sound man. John Connors, the guitarist for the Problem Dogs, was officially the Treasurer and also ran the lights. Of course, that only touches the tip of the surface as there were about a hundred people who had a major hand in, not counting the bands. I'll try to run a full name check in another post. Space Place became one of those fabulously synergistic things where everybody was working together to create something bigger than the parts could generate by themselves. Personally, I think the Space Place influence was felt far beyond the joint itself, and maybe it's just hubris but I think that that concentration of MADNESS & ENERGY (to quote Mark Mayer) was the driving force behind the explosion of the whole Chicago scene in 79 to 82.

Part of the building had been an old cold storage warehouse, some with foot thick insulated walls. We partitioned off a lot of the rooms so you could have 20 bands rehearsing at the same time without disturbing each other. Most bands rented private rooms by the month and could set them up the way they wanted and have their friends and fans hang out as needed. We also had a day room for spot rehearsals and bands could rent the show room to work out full blown staging with lights and PA and all.

Eventually, we started doing shows - usually on Saturday nights. We weren't in the liquor distribution business, so all shows were all ages. We had an excellent entertainment lawyer - Jay 'Sue The Bastards' Ross, and he got us legally organized as a 501c3 not-for profit corporation and private club. As a private club, members of legal age could bring their own refreshments. We may have sold pops or something. But basically we were able to do all ages shows and people could still get ripped if they needed to. In order to attend the show, you first had to become a member of the private club, which is why we issued the Membership card that MKB has posted elsewhere on this fabulous site. If you were over 21, we marked your card and you could bring liquor in. If you weren't, basically you found somebody else to bring it in for you (which is how it actually worked out).

We suffered a couple of minor busts, and then one huge one by the Department of Criminal Housing (they were expecting some sort of gang headquarters) that basically shut down the show room and forced us to start doing shows at 112 N. Green. All in all, and looking back from a more mature and responsible viewpoint, it was notihing short of a miracle that we didn't have a E2-type disaster at one of the shows. The concert room was on the third floor of the joint, accessible only by a single narrow winding stairway, and the fire escapes were working buit hideously out of repair. The freight elevator had previously been dismantled by scavengers and was stuck on the third flloor, so bands had to heft the gear up to the showroom and back. There were only 2 toilets in the joint, and we had to constantly patrol to make sure that they didn't revert to primitiveness. We reserved the nicer one on the first floor for the ladies.

When we had a particularly great show, you could feel the floor of the concert room start bouncing up and down - the joint was literally rocking. For the Bauhaus show, the place was hidously oversold and when they busted into 'Telegram Sam' I was sure that we were all going to wind up in a pile of bricks in the basement...

Notable Shows

Band and Show History

Space Place flyer for Black Flag

As told by Rich Harrington

Probably the most well-remembered shows we did were the Bauhaus show (3/7/81) and two Black Flag shows. We were punk in the sense that the whole thing was DIY and tended to be louder faster, but we featured all kinds of music at the shows. We had a lotta lotta punk shows, but we also had heavy metal, new wave, soul, blues, and plain crazy shit like ST2W or the Guyettes who had everybody dancing with an 'electric purse', or a wack band called 'Huh?' from Madison or Racine who came out dressed like cavemen (and cavelady) and did their first song just beating beating beating on big rocks. I don't know. We put on a 'New-wave musical,' Starstruck, and we hosted shows by Mike Flores and the Psychotronic Film society. Our normal presentation was to have a known, usually local opening act at 10, either one of the bigger local acts or a national act if we could book somebody interesting for the mainliner and then a closing act either a Space Place band (one of the bands that rehearsed there) or another band doing their first show or whatever to close out. Usually the shows would go to 3 am or so but many the times I remember rocking till dawn. Early raves if you will.

Holy moly. I finally had to pull out the 'Space Place Archives' to look up some of the bands and I have a lot more shit in there than I thought. For the purposes of this website, the most popular resident Space Place 'punk' bands were probably Direct Drive/Articles of Faith, DV8, and Meaty Buys. Other bands that were great and not necessarily punk and didn't get as much notice as they should of were ST2W (Save The Whole World), the '80s, the Marquis, the Problem Dogs, Doc Shock & The Jetsons, Recruit, Screamin' Rachel, and the swarm of Paul-Brodlo-Al-Kizys-centric bands like Sawdust Theory/Dystrophy Eaters/Phlegm Magnets/Underhell. Other S.P. bands included Warp 6 (fusion), The Majik Band (soul), Alphonso Surett (r & b), White Dwarf (Metal), Riley, the Men.

The first Space Place show featured Special Affect (pre- Al Jourgenson - Tom Hoffman was the guitarist) and the Ferraris. The drummer from the Ferraris, Bobby Strange, was tripping, had some domestic problem , and cut his wrists (superficially, thank jah) backstage during the third set. That was almost the end of the shows.

Punk bands that played S.P. besides Black Flag included Direct Drive (later AOF), the Effigies, Naked Raygun, Strike Under, the Subverts, Silver Abuse, Young Lions (canada), DA!, the Bag People, the Masterbeats (the totally loudest fukin band I ever heard), People's Temple, the C*nts (with the Meaty Buys in the Disturbing Records review), the Insect Surfers (Washington DC) /Corrosives / Spitballs/ the Mentally Ill, the Men, James Chance, Desmond, Negative Element, End Result, Amadots

Other not so punk bands included Epicycle, the Dancing Cigarettes (Bloomington), the Oil Tasters (Milwaukee), Big Daddy Sun & The Outer Planets, Amadots, the Guyettes, E-Space, Strange Circuits, Games (with Paul Suszynski - had a song 'Decorate in Red' that was just great!), Hoi Polloi, Painter band / Kate Fagan / the Toasters (with the Disturbing records revue), Poison Squirrel, DRATS!, the CIA, Klik & Swing, the Cult Heroes (Detroit), L7 (detroit), Figures on A Beach (Detroit), the Yard Apes (KC). I'm sure I'm leaving out dozens of names that should be mentioned...

External Links