Ready to Rock: Reggie’s Live gives the South Side a new place to party

The music scene on the South Side is finally receiving a huge boost with the opening of Reggie’s Live, just three blocks from the Cermak-Chinatown stop on the Red Line. When owner and founder Robby Glick was asked how he chose the name for Reggie’s, he replied that it was a combination of “having a cool inner-city name to give it a little shadiness” and a demonstration of appreciation for his favorite baseball player, Reggie Jackson. Reggie’s is really three parts in one: “The Music Joint,” complete with a bar and a twenty-one and over restaurant, “The Rock Club” music venue with a capacity of about 400, and “Record Breakers,” the record shop on the second floor. Reggie’s was originally founded in 1988 in the northwest suburb of Hoffman Estates, but last year Glick decided to go for “bigger and better” and make the move to the big city. After a wide search all over the city, he chose the new location in an old auto repair shop in the South Side. Although it has only been open about a month and a half, Reggie’s is clearly a mix of everything–interesting and eclectic with the great potential of becoming a new arts haven for the South Side.

Everything about the space is creative and thoughtful with special attention to detail, from the basic design of the stage and balcony in the Rock Club to the tables decorated with records and aged tickets from past World Series and a ’77 Led Zeppelin concert to the A-tracks hanging above the bathrooms in the Music Joint. The store, Record Breakers, is decorated from floor to ceiling with band posters and rows of vinyl and CDs with a separate collectors’ section in the back. Go down the stairs and you will descend into a hallway that connects the main stage and the Music Joint covered with t-shirts and band merchandise on the walls and counter. “[Reggie’s] came out a little nicer than I wanted it to,” says Glick, referring to how the place was supposed to be casual and a little grungy, but never fear–with the plywood floors, cinderblock-and-chain furniture, and the exposed pipes and wires in the unfinished ceiling, the place retains an edgy, raw feel even with the comforting knowledge of new plumbing and electrical renovations.

Reggie’s “official” bus is one thing Glick is very excited about. It is an old ’73 school bus that has been completely morphed into a sweet form of transportation–black, decorated with red and green gremlins, fierce and eye-catching. The bus is driven by an earring-studded guy named Gino and the plan is to take groups to White Sox and Bears games and to different music venues around the city, making the journey as fun as the destination. Glick wants to initiate a “college route” where the bus drives around and picks students up in Hyde Park, at the Superdorm, UIC, DePaul, and other student hot spots and takes them to Reggie’s and music venues all over the city.

According to Glick, the response from the neighborhood has been positive as people have been “dying for a nightlife and everyone loves live music.” There are shows six to seven nights a week in the Music Joint, ranging from jazz, blues, reggae, acoustic, and rock. It’s a chill place to come listen to music with cheap beer, good food and TVs flashing sports games. The Rock Club focuses mainly on rock, punk and metal and its biggest show, Death by Metal, had over 200 people. By spring, Glick wants the shows to have at least 200 college kids a night but “we just need to get the word out” to let them know that they have good bands and a unique setting.

At Reggie’s Music Joint, the past and the present merge: between the rows of vinyl and CDs, the VHSs and DVDs, and the tattered tickets memorializing Glick’s life of concerts and sports games contrasting with the new tickets being sold for current groups and singers hosted by the venue. And with all of this happening in a recently renovated factory, there is a new life and hope for the continued growth of the South Side music scene.

Reggie’s Live. 2105 S. State St. Sunday-Friday, 11am-2am; Saturday, 11am-3am. (312)949-0120. www.reggieslive.com