INDIE | A benefit for hail-battered Garfield Park Conservatory
Last year Sybris drummer Eric Mahle quit to front a new group, Sunken Ships. "I was thinking about the kind of band we wanted it to be," he says. "I thought that we'd be the kind of band where if we were asked to do a benefit, we'd be down." So when Mahle heard that the Garfield Park Conservatory—which he calls "one of my favorite places"—had been severely damaged in the June 30 hailstorm, he didn't wait for somebody else to put together a benefit. "It gave me the idea to just do it myself."
Hail broke much of the glass in three of the conservatory's public rooms and all ten of its production greenhouses. Eunita Rushing, president of the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, estimates in an open letter that repairs will cost millions, and that exposure to the elements could kill more than half the plants—including cycads in the Fern Room estimated to be hundreds of years old.
Mahle has made lots of connections in the Chicago music scene, both in the hard-gigging Sybris and as a sound engineer (these days most often at Subterranean and Beat Kitchen), and he's assembled a solid lineup—Sunken Ships are playing, of course, and Bobby Conn, Del Rey, Big Science, Bare Mutants, and DJ Scary Lady Sarah fill out the bill. The show's at 8 PM at Lincoln Hall on Thu 8/18, and it costs $20.
There's also a raffle with prizes from dozens of independent Chicago businesses and a silent auction that includes collectibles from LCD Soundsystem, Alkaline Trio, Cap'n Jazz, the Smoking Popes, Pelican, and scene stalwarts like poster artist Jay Ryan, journalist Jim DeRogatis, and photographer Jim Newberry.
Part of the credit for the preponderance of big names goes to Mahle's unlikely Facebook friendship with Jesus Lizard front man David Yow. "I realized that he was into Scrabble, so we started playing Scrabble together," Mahle says. "I had the idea to ask him if he wanted to donate artwork, because he's a really talented painter. He actually suggested that he had this out-of-print, rare Jesus Lizard seven-inch box set that he'd autograph and send. And once I had a couple of people who gave me donations, it gave me the courage to ask everyone. I just shot the moon."—Miles Raymer