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Bridgeport DIY showspace Go-Go Town officially called it quits last week. Though the converted storefront had only been hosting music since the fall, it had already booked a wide variety of local and national acts, from local student bands to New York hipster darlings.
DIY spaces in Chicago are frequently done in by their own success. As they put on bigger and better shows and attract more attention, they inevitably draw they eye of city authorities and police, who have little sympathy for the people who run these spaces (generally as labors of love); one person's priceless contribution to Chicago's cultural vitality is another's fly-by-night firetrap. Whatever the city's motivation--whether it's actually concerned with public safety, proper permitting, and enforcing building codes or whether it just wants a cut of the action and knows it won't get it from spaces that rarely charge admission beyond an optional donation--it's hounded plenty of DIY venues out of existence.
None of those factors is to blame in Go-Go Town's case, though. The occupants were on good terms with their landlord, the city had largely left them alone, there were no significant conflicts with neighbors over noise--even the brazen pot smoking in the front room during shows escaped scrutiny. Instead it was internal conflicts that brought the venue down.
Since admission to shows was usually a suggested donation, and on most nights nobody bothered asking for it anymore once the first band started playing and everyone started drinking, the space depended on its four permanent occupants to stay afloat--they had to be able to make the rent themselves, without much (if any) help from show income. As emotional MySpace blog postings and between-band show announcements attest, the departure of two of the occupants, along with theft of $176 from Go-Go Town's collective cash reserves, put an unbearable strain on the resources of the remaining two and left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.
While it's unclear why the remaining Go-Go Town residents couldn't find replacements for their former housemates--surely somewhere in Chicagoland there are two more punk kids who'd jump at the chance to clean spilled beer and cigarette butts off their own floor five nights a week--they've made it clear that they're moving on. All the shows they'd booked for the next two months are cancelled, and it's unclear whether the touring bands will be able to reschedule elsewhere or whether they'll just skip Chicago; few remaining DIY spaces put on shows as frequently as Go-Go Town did, and legit venues are likely to be booked up for much of that stretch already.
But don't count the Go-Go Town guys out yet--they're promising that if no one steps up to start a new space and take over where they left off, they'll eventually find a place to start booking shows again.