A giant gong hangs behind the bar

Simpson and Wentz pose with a cake in the shape of their English bulldog, Hemingway.

Pete Wentz, of the band Fall Out Boy, welcomed his new bundle of joy to town on Tuesday night. Nope, not his baby—his new bride, Ashlee Simpson, is still in the bump stage—but his edgy new rock lounge, Angels & Kings (710 N. Clark St.), which Wentz co-owns with local nightlife vets Stephen Westman (Lakeview Broadcasting Company), Matt Eisler (Elm Street Liquors, Empire Liquors, Victory Liquors), and Lyle Aker (Five Star), among other investors (keep reading for more on that).

After mumbling something about how it’s cool to puke in your own bar bathroom, Wentz greeted the invite-only crowd: “I’m glad to be back in the Midwest.” Simpson also took the mic to wish her now-29-year-old hubby a happy birthday. A video montage of childhood shots of Wilmette-native Wentz followed, peppered with taped comments from Wentz’s folks about his and Simpson’s relationship, plus a charming tale from Simpson about the honeymoon night when the couple’s English bulldog, Hemingway, marked his territory on her head while the newlyweds were in bed. “It was really romantic,” she said.

Despite some housetraining issues, it seems Hemingway is still in his owners’ good graces: A giant cake in his likeness, courtesy of the local Cakegirls, was wheeled out while the entire crowd sang happy birthday. Among the 250 revelers were Project Runway’s Steven Rosengard, one of Chicago’s 2008  singles (keep reading for more on that, too), and Ben Mollin, from Bravo’s Shear Genius. DJ White Shadow took over the turntables around 9 p.m. to play Kanye West’s “Coming Home Again” before launching into Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” Meanwhile, Wentz and Simpson sneaked off to a secluded area designed to look like a vintage living room.

Bravo reality-TV stars Ben Mollin and Steven Rosengard

Although I heard some partygoers grumbling about whether the neighborhood needs another pricey, see-and-be-seen bar, Eisler says that’s not the owners’ goal. “We want it to be low-key and comfortable,” he says, noting that there will be no enforced bottle-service policy nor, on most nights, a cover. “We’re going for down and dirty, but well thought-out, similar to Empire’s vibe.” Chicago’s Angels & Kings is the franchise’s second location; the first, in New York’s East Village, is owned by Crush Management, which oversees bands including Panic at the Disco and Gym Class Heroes, in addition to Fall Out Boy.

The space itself, most recently occupied by a much sleeker Rockwell Lounge (and, before that, Narcisse) went through a complete overhaul in less than a month. Recycled barn wood now lines the walls throughout, and painted AK47 rifles emblazoned with Gucci and Louis Vuitton logos by artist Peter Gronquist share space with black-and-white mugshots of rock luminaries including Jimi Hendrix and Janice Joplin. “AK47 is the nickname of the New York bar,” Eisler says. “We tried to incorporate some of the same elements.” Wentz found the rifles at an L.A. gallery and will be instrumental in designing the bar’s soon-to-open downstairs. He also donated Fall Out Boy’s first MTV Moon Man, which occupies a prominent spot behind the upstairs bar.

Another element the Chicago crew is poaching from the New York outpost: live-band karaoke Wednesdays, which Fall Out Boy’s lead guitarist, Joe Trohman, who lives in Lincoln Park, will host when he’s in town. Bargoers can expect other familiar faces to pop up from Crush’s roster, and then there’s celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, who’s also an investor. As for whether that’s counterproductive to the desired low-key vibe, Eisler’s not worried: “Everyone gets along. It’s a positive thing.”

Angels & Kings is slated to open to the public next week; Wentz is expected to announce the exact date at the Cubs game this Saturday, June 21st. In the meantime, catch Steven Rosengard and Chicago’s 19 other newly named singles at Summer Lovin’, the annual singles mixer benefiting Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The party, also featuring DJ White Shadow, ramps up at 6:30 p.m. Friday the 20th at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.). Tickets, $75 to $95, are available at summerlovin.net or at the door.


Photography: Brian Choi