Rolling Stones to play a secret show in Chicago?
The Rolling Stones have been playing arenas since the band members were twentysomethings. But occasionally, Mick, Keef and company like to pretend they're a shaggy juke-joint act. With the Stones rolling into town for a whole week to play three concerts at the United Center, including tonight's performance, could the band have a secret club show up its sleeve?
The Stones have a history of playing surprise gigs in intimate settings; the band kicked off its 50 & Counting tour in late April with a 90-minute set at L.A.'s 700 capacity EchoPlex, a $20-per-ticket show announced day-of on Twitter via @RollingStones. Last October, the band sold 350 tickets at 20 bucks a pop for Le Trabendo, another 700-person venue. Again, the show was publicized on Twitter.
Another line of reasoning: The Stones seem to have a particular affection for hush-hush shows in Chicago. During a three-night stand at the Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) in November 1981 on the Tattoo You tour, Mick, Keith and Ronnie Wood dropped by the old Checkerboard Lounge to jam with Muddy Waters and a host of other local bluesmen, including Buddy Guy. (I wouldn't be surprised to see Guy taking a solo on "Midnight Rambler" at the United Center. Chicago harmonica master Sugar Blue, whose playing can be heard on "Miss You," should also get an invite.)
Perhaps the most vivid Stones memory for Chicagoans: In '97, days before kicking off the Bridges to Babylon tour at Soldier Field, the Stones played a last-minute gig at Double Door for about 400 lucky fans and music industry folk, including Billy Corgan and Liz Phair. (Video below.) A wristband, which granted its wearer entry to the club, was $7.
Could history repeat? Double Door's lineup for the week the Stones are in town is curious: nothing booked Saturday or Sunday. Reached by phone today, a venue employee said a "private event" is booked for Saturday. (A 50th bandiversary party? I wondered.) The person assured me the event isn't Stones related.
If not Double Door, then where? Capacity-wise, a good bet is Bottom Lounge. A stone's throw from the United Center, it holds 700, same as the venues of the L.A. and Paris club gigs. It also has gaps in its schedule over the next week. In any case, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled to the Stones' Twitter feed.