Boystown

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Boystown

BizSpot: Putting on a (free) show in Boystown

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(Photos courtesy of respective bars)

It’s the time of year when temperatures drop and coat checks open in the bars of Boystown. But just because rooftop patios and alfresco dining have become seasonally defunct doesn’t mean neighborhood bars aren’t enticing customers to stay awhile.
In fact, many bars on Halsted Street are taking this time of year to launch free performance nights that you wouldn’t typically find in the ‘hood. RedEye takes a look at three of the new events.

Roscoe’s Sin Thursdays
First Thursdays of the month
3356 N. Halsted St
(773) 281-3355
Expect to see flame-eaters, colorful sideshow performers and sometimes burlesque dancers using power saws to make sparks fly from steel underwear — it’s a no-holds-barred night of sin (a fire extinguisher always at hand). 
Boystown’s drag queen favorites Mercedes and Frida Lay host guest performers — with a background of alternative rock videos — and a darker, more intimate decor. The show starts at about 10 p.m. with a midnight encore. Roscoe’s employee Rob Jacobson said the idea is to offer an alternative night to the Boystown bars — think less Lady Gaga and Beyonce and more The Cure and Souxsie and the Banshees.
“It’s more of an alternative scene,” Jacobson said. “It’s interesting to see other people make it out to this area.”
Scarlet’s Zeitgeist Night
Monday nights
3320 N. Halsted St.
(773) 348-1053
Over the past few months, Monday nights at Scarlet have brought in up and coming singer-songwriters, indie acts, jazz musicians and theater performances plucked from Chicago’s diverse cultural landscape.
The rotation of featured artists take the stage set up by the front door in what owner Paul Cannella describes as an evolution of what used to be called Art House.
“It’s an opportunity to do something live, something that’s different that’s not really being offered anywhere,” Cannella told RedEye in July, when he launched the performance night. 
“You’ll never know what it’ll be that week,” he said.
Sidetrack’s Laugh Track
Thursday nights
3349 N. Halsted St.
(773) 477-9189
Thursdays at Sidetrack used to merely be a night of stand-up and sketch-comedy clips playing throughout the multilevel bar — but now live comedy acts transform the video bar into a comedy club.
The night begins at 8 p.m. sharp with two opening acts and a headliner to close out a 60 to 90 minute show. The comedians are usually local talent like Boystown comics Adam Guerino and Bradley Thomas, but occasionally national headliners such as this Thursday’s Brad Loekle from TruTV’s “The Smoking Gun” are brought in.
 ”It’s been growing rapidly,” said Sidetrack co-owner Chuck Hyde. “We know that there’s a whole lot of talent in our community that doesn’t always get to showcase, so this just seemed like a natural fit.”

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