On July 4 DIY experimental-music venue Enemy ended an extraordinary seven-year run—for a DIY space, seven years is usually a few lifespans—with a show headlined by Baltimore weirdos Nautical Almanac. "Nobody's shutting us down or anything like that," says Enemy founder and noise artist Jason Soliday. "We could still keep going." He simply wants to focus more on his own projects: "I need a break."
Soliday started Enemy in a Wicker Park studio space shortly after moving in; the first show was on July 25, 2005, with Mike Shiflet, Jason Zeh, and Jesse Kudler. He installed the PA that sound artist Rob Ray had been using at his Deadtech space—and it's still kicking. "Fourteen years of a good chunk of the noise shows in Chicago came through that PA," Soliday says. "It's held up pretty well."
Soliday has had help from roommates over the years, all of them also musicians—Brent Gutzeit, Geoff Guy, Eric Leonardson, and Ryan Dunn. They've booked a huge variety of talented locals, touring bands, and acts from overseas: a short list of highlights would have to include experimental guitarist and banjoist Eugene Chadbourne, unhinged San Francisco rockers Sic Alps, Montreal noise punks AIDS Wolf, Lungfish front man Daniel Higgs, German free-jazz reedist Peter Brötzmann, and percussionist and sound artist Z'ev.
Despite its obscure niche—or more likely because of it—Enemy became indispensable, evolving into a community hub for noise artists and experimental musicians. It's hard for Soliday to discuss the years he invested in Enemy without getting emotional. "Outside of my own music, this place has been me for seven-plus years—this is what I've done," he says. "So I'm really attached to it, and obviously it was a big deal to me."
Though Enemy has closed—except for an "epilogue" show Fri 7/20, with Jesse Kenas Collins, a duo of Daniel Fandiño and Jason Stein, and a duo of Soliday and Brian Labycz—Soliday knows the noise scene will find a new anchor. "There will be new spaces," he says. "I may even be involved in one. Just not for a little while."
Next: Peter Margasak on jazz.