Lincoln Park’s new rock lounge may not be authentic, but it sure is pretty
Amp Rock Lounge 1909 N. Lincoln Ave. amprocklounge.com
Rock-’n’-roll bars are as common these days as reunion tours, but how hard-rock can a bar be that doesn’t host a lick of live music? Think of the new Amp Rock Lounge, a subterra-nean space last occupied by Katacomb, as the Ashlee Simpson of rock bars: There’s no live music, but when it looks this good, do other details really matter?
The cavernlike space is a stunner: pitch-black walls scrawled with song lyrics (Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” Mötley Crüe’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room”), liquor shelves carved out of amplifiers, drums for cocktail tables, and photos of rock titans so lifelike you can practically feel the sweat dripping off of Steven Tyler and onto your expensive Gucci clutch.
Mike Bloem and Andy Daun, the boys behind Rush Street’s Level, opened Amp in October with an iPod playlist of some 15,000 songs—enough for 48 days or so of uninterrupted listening. “We play all kinds of rock, from classic to modern,” says the director of operations, Anthony Waver—including songs (think the Stones) older than the clientele.
Amp does have a couple of undisputed hits on its hands. First, all top-shelf booze (Grey Goose, Patrón) is $7, as opposed to $12 at downtown spots. We took particular interest in the “Jägerator,” which churns out ice-cold shots of Jäger in glasses chilled to one degree above freezing ($5). Second, the lounge inherited Katacomb’s highly coveted 4 a.m. liquor license—although that can be both a blessing and a curse for bar owners, since most late-night spots don’t fill up until the wee hours. When we arrived around 10 p.m. on a recent Saturday, the place was dead. By 2 a.m., however, the barflies were flocking. Now, that’s rock ’n’ roll.
Photography: Chris Guillen