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Tuning into Chicago’s 1992 indie music scene

The new TV show “Shining Girls” takes place partly in Chicago’s indie club scene circa 1992.

  • Kirby (played by Elisabeth Moss) watches her mom’s punk shows and even has a Lounge Ax (RIP) poster on her wall.
  • It got us wondering how folks from the 1992 scene remember its highlights 30 years later and view the show.

Why it matters: Chicago’s alternative and indie-rock scene exploded in the 1990s, with bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Material Issue (among others) becoming major-label exports.

What they’re saying: “OMG, I screamed when I saw the Lounge Ax posters in her apartment on the show!” Lounge Ax co-owner Susan Miller tells Tweedy Axios. “They did an amazing job recreating those posters! Those were totally fake and looked totally real!”

The Chicago sounds: “It was really varied back then,” Eleventh Dream Day and Cocktails musician Mark Greenberg tells Axios.

  • “Jeff [Tweedy] was still in Uncle Tupelo and playing Chicago a lot, but you also had math rock and post-rock and the beginnings of insurgent country.”

Big picture: Indie music archivist Aadam Jacobs — aka the “Taping Guy” — says, “I went to 157 shows in 1992 and there were still so many great ones I missed.”

Jacobs’ top shows of 1992:

🥁 Tortoise’s first show (as Mosquito), April 13 at Lounge Ax

🎤 Volcano Sun’s last show, Jan 24 at Lounge Ax

🎸 The last time I saw Pixies, Jan. 31 at University of Chicago

🎧 Yo La Tengo, April 25 and 26 at Lounge Ax

💒 The Wedding Present, May 2 at Metro

🛣 Pavement, four times around the Midwest in a week

💌 My Bloody Valentine, June 24 at Vic

🪖 Unrest, January and October at Lounge Ax

🍹 Trenchmouth and The Cocktails all the time!

🥩 Red Red Meat and The Slugs almost all the time!

Memorable shows: Greenberg agrees with Jacobs but adds two more Lounge Ax shows to his favorites list:

🐠 “In October 1992, Lungfish opened for Walt Mink and we just fell in love with their CD and played it every night in the club for like five years.”

🎸 In November 1992, one-man rockabilly band Hasil Adkins played two sold-out shows at Lounge Ax. He “threw his guitar down and it bounced up and cut [Reader critic] Bill Meyer’s head,” sending blood everywhere.

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