Over the past few years, Chicago clubbing institution Smart Bar has responded to the wave of EDM madness by digging its heels deeper into the underground. This attitude, sparked by music director Maria Stamper, has focused on building a deep bench of resident DJs whose talent often outmatches that of the big-name guest artists that the competition has to rely on to fill their venues. No wonder the club's official 2016 resident roster, which was announced today, is full of whose popularity is hitting critical mass both within Chicago and on the global stage. That's not to say Smart Bar doesn't offer a welcoming home to traveling talent when it hits Chicago. It's just that anyone added to a bill with these residents is icing on the cake.
Topping the list of residents is Stamper herself, who had a breakout year in 2015 DJing and producing as The Black Madonna. The only jock to have clocked more miles in the past 12 months is Derrick Carter, the Chicago house legend whose Sunday night Queen! party at Smart Bar with fellow residents Garrett David and Michael Serafini, gives Windy City residents a much needed place to wild out before starting the work week. Another self-contained squad within the larger line-up is Hugo Ball, made up of Senior Smart Bar Resident Justin Long, as well as Sevron, Nathan Drew Larsen, and SOLD. Rounding out the roster is encyclopedic jock Chrissy, techno specialist Jeff Derringer, party hosts Olin (Slack) and Sassmouth (Planet Chicago), Phillip Stone and Jason Kendig, 1/4th of San Francisco's queer DJ collective Honey Soundsystem, who became a full-time Chicagoan just before the new year.
Smart Bar also announced a series of partnerships with likeminded promoters across the country, including SF mainstays As You Like It, NYC female crew Discwoman, Pittsburgh's kings of the queer underground Honcho and Detroit's Interdimensional Transmissions, whose own No Way Back series of events inspired by the halcyon days of the Detroit rave scene has become a crucial part of the nation's techno calendar.
The end result of all this cooperation is a supportive network of underground parties and performers that is nurturing the next generation of stars, outside the well-established European house and techno networks—a throwback to earlier eras of U.S. dance music, with Chicago once again as a critical axis.
For the complete Smart Bar events listings, hit up smartbarchicago.com