Tonight local promotion company Phantom Note kicks off the three-day Phantom Note Phinale at Quenchers Saloon
. Cofounders Sam Edgin and Josh Hastert launched Phantom Note five years ago, and eventually found a home base at Quenchers. They decided to throw in the towel in November. "The production business is a very hard one to maintain and make money," Edgin says. For Edgin it's a big change. "It's hard," he says. "I've been booking at this point longer than I haven't, and it's the main thing I've known."
Edgin, 29, grew up in the southwest suburb of Mokena, and at age 16 he convinced the owner of a rehearsal studio called Soundlab to let him and his friends throw shows in the space. "When I was 17 [the owner] was like, ''Do you want to just take over shows?'" Edgin says. "I got my foot in the door for learning how shit works." At one point he booked 20 shows a month, and he did most of the work himself—he divvied up money for the musicians at the end of the night, of course, but he also ran the lights.
Edgin came to Chicago to study at Columbia College and began finding his way into the local live-promotion business, taking jobs with House Call Entertainment and MP Presents
. He had seven years of experience by the time he launched Phantom Note with Hastert in 2010, though they faced some difficulties getting established. "I started my company when I was 24," Edgin says. "It's been challenging in the sense of going to these bars and pitching my ideas to bar owners, and they're like, 'You're so young.'"
Phantom Note soon settled in at Quenchers, which also hired Edgin as a bar manager in August 2014. At the company's peak it hosted 30 or more shows per month at Quenchers, plus less frequent events at the Fireside Bowl
and the occasional date at Beat Kitchen
. The stress of running so many shows wore Edgin down, and he says that he and Hastert had started talking about dissolving Phantom Note well before arriving at their decision.
To add to their pains, Edgin says, he and Hastert frequently gave bands money that was technically due to Phantom Note, just so they'd walk away with something at the end of the night. Edgin plays bass in instrumental math-rock duo Space Blood, which is part of the reason he's keen on getting local bands paid.
Edgin and Hastert announced Phantom Note's impending demise at the end of November, just as Edgin quit his job at Quenchers. MP Presents is taking over the bar's events calendar, and during the transition its stage will only be empty for a few nights. If you go to all three nights of the Phantom Note Phinale, you'll need a break anyway.
The mini fest features many of Edgin's favorite local acts, plus a couple out-of-towners on Saturday—grungy Minneapolis group Buildings and math-rock band Crttrz from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
With Phantom Note on the way out, Edgin has started working part-time for Malört; he says he made Quenchers one of Chicago's top sellers of Malört during his stint as bar manager, and the company even released a special Space Blood bottle. Edgin has also accepted freelance offers to book part-time at other venues, including the Burlington
in Logan Square and Emporium
in Wicker Park. "It's really hard to just give up booking entirely," he says. "I'll be in the game for awhile."
The Phantom Note Phinale costs $8 for Friday or Sunday and $10 for Saturday; a weekend pass is $20. Here's the full lineup:
Friday, January 8:
Rad Payoff, Velocicopter, Bow & Spear, Secret Science, Blizzard Babies, Propane Propane
Music at 8:30 PM
Saturday, January 9:
Boss Fight, Droughts, Buildings, Space Blood, Crttrz, Snort, Enhasa, Blue Steel, Game Genie, Runaway Five, Jacob Horn Trio
Music at 5 PM
Sunday, January 10:
Dog & Wolf, Turnspit, Flips, Otto Mann, Rapids, Sincere Engineer
Music at 7:30 PM