“Congratulations! You found us!”
What once looked like the house in the
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
, actually couldn’t be more inviting, thanks to the great people and music inside, along with a recent renovation… This intriguing spot, formerly of the residential variety, is located at the T-intersection formed by Wabansia and Ada, smack dab in the middle of the Elston Avenue industrial district – its name being taken from this odd location. The atmosphere at the Hideout is friendly, lacks any sense of pretension, and is amazingly conducive for listening to some of the best live alternative, rock and bluegrass music in the city.
The Hideout is one of the few bars that I recommend driving to in Chicago, as cabs are not to be found in this grungy industrial area, unless one is pulling up with patrons coming in as you are walking out (the Chicago bar-going equivalent of hitting the jackpot) and parking is plentiful. Just look for the glowing Old Style sign at the end of the block, directly across from Chicago Department of Fleet Management, where city snow plows and garbage trucks are kept and serviced. Parking is usually available right out front, but if there isn’t, park creatively – you won’t have to worry about getting a ticket as cops are busy doling those out in Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville. A needlepoint “Hideout” sign that looks like it belongs in your grandmother’s kitchen is there to welcome you.
Step up the concrete steps, through the sticker-covered wooden door, and you’re inside a glass block-encrusted musical oasis.When entering the front barroom, you’ll pay a cover typically between $5 and $10 and get your hand stamped. The orange & tan linoleum expanse within offers a worn wooden bar on your left and table seating on your right. Once only serving bottles and cans, the bar now boasts a smattering of taps featuring microbrews under the watchful eye of the stuffed dear head below pink string lights. Whiskey is more the Hideout’s speed. The bar doesn’t serve food, but help yourself to the complimentary beer nuts and pretzels on the bar. If you grab a table, check out the beer can collection behind the glass case. Also, have a look at the giant chalkboard on the east wall, which promotes all upcoming shows for the current month.
The real story at Hideout can be found in the back room, where the stage is located, also known as the “Chinook Lounge.” This spot looks more like a rec room, because that’s probably what it was previously. The room features wood paneling, tables with folding chairs, small blue and green candle globes, high-perched windows covered with iron bars, a plush gray banquette along the wall, Japanese-like paper lights with colored light bulbs, and bad paintings hung with care. The stage is located at the far end of the room and offers a piano, oriental carpeting, flashy orange curtain, wooden plank with “Hideout” painted on it, and longhorns above it. The stage is also bookended by two stuffed fish (including a marlin). More stuffed fish can be seen along the east wall. The back room does not have a bar, but does have decent waitress service. In the summertime, head out for some air or a smoke between sets into the beer garden located in front of the Hideout, which is reminiscent of the formerly “dumpster baroque” patio at Weeds Tavern.
The musical variety is impressive, focusing mainly on eclectic, alternative bands playing rock, punk, rockabilly, funk, and honky-tonk. Most of these bands are some of the best local players, while the Hideout also attracts some regionally and nationally known acts. Sadly, Devil in a Woodpile is now defunct and no longer plays on Tuesday nights, but you’ll instead find the Sanctified Grumblers on Tuesday nights (acoustic blues/bluegrass/jug band) and The Immediate Sound jazz series on Wednesday nights. Music is featured every night except Sunday, when the Hideout often has special family events complete with hot dogs and soda for the kids. On your way out, sign up for the Hideout’s mailing list, located on a clipboard on the table just to the right of the door.
The best thing I found about the Hideout, is that it’s a relaxing place to have a drink and see some excellent local talent. There is no Lincoln Park air of pretension, Bucktown poseurs or any other annoyance. The crowd consists of people that have sought out the Hideout specifically to experience good music. In this way, the Hideout is similar to the Green Mill, with a different genre of music and more of a casual tavern atmosphere that consists of a strangely good mix of blue collar workers, yuppies, bikers, suburbanites, punks, and all other types.
“Spot” (front room)
Photo courtesy of Edith Frost
- Back Room
“The graffiti in the girl’s bathroom is my favorite: ‘If you voted for Bush you can’t shit here. Your asshole’s in Washington.'”– Leigh K. on Yelp (May 28, 2008)
After being built at the turn of the 20th century and becoming a legal bar at the end of prohibition in 1934, the Hideout was purchased in 1996 by husband and wife team Tim Tuten and Katie Nicholson, along with their friends, twins Mike and Jim Hinchsliff. These four have turned the Hideout from an after-work, blue collar hangout into one of the best music venues in the city, joining the likes of Metro, the Empty Bottle, Double Door, Beat Kitchen, and the Underground Lounge. The Hideout was even called one of the best bars in Chicago by Rolling Stone magazine, and has been featured in numerous other publications including Spin and the New York Times. Tim and Katie’s annual Hideout Barbecue has even become an honored tradition at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
- Artwork inspired by the Hideout
- Photo courtesy of A.S. V.
“Born as a 19th Century Shanty, straight from the mud by ditch-digging Irishmen with dirty boots and hats, always hats, pushed aside by the nickel and dime Prohibition Era Sicilian button men. Cold War steel working Polish made way for the alternative, indie, free jazz, country, punk, post-rock of the 21st Century… The Hideout is the place where the hard working man and the hard working hustler met for beer and eggs. Where the ’26 girls’ rolled the dice for dances and 10 cent drinks.”– excerpt from the Hideout website
Great music, no pretension, cheap cover. What more do you want, other than driving your own snow plow? For upcoming shows, Hideout stories, and more information after you been drinkin’, check out the Hideout website. Now, when I come home, baby, please let me lay down and rest.
“Come once and you’re a regular”</p