Three Beats: An Experimental Garage Sale at ESS, Mosh for Cancer at Reggie's, and a makeover at the Abbey Pub | Three Beats | Chicago Reader

Three Beats: An Experimental Garage Sale at ESS, Mosh for Cancer at Reggie's, and a makeover at the Abbey Pub 

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The Abbey Pub gets a Spike TV makeover


click to enlarge abbey_magnum.jpg

I don't need much of a nudge to check out an Unsane show anywhere in Chicago, but when I heard they were playing the Abbey Pub last Wednesday, an ulterior motive presented itself. The great PR machine that daily bombards my in-box had just informed me that the Abbey had been visited earlier in May by Bar Rescue, an upcoming Spike TV reality series hosted by consultant Jon Taffer.

Much like its kin Kitchen Nightmares and Restaurant: Impossible, the show has a pretty self-explanatory title. It sounds like the bars in question get subjected to prototypical TV makeovers: a fast-talking know-it-all inserts himself into a troubled business, handing out subpar grades to every aspect of the operation, and then proceeds to do whatever the hell he wants while the owners pretend to like it.

The Abbey's main concert hall got a minor face-lift, including new wood floors, new lighting, and a couple coats of paint (the creepy leprechauns on the walls were removed just before the renovation). The pub itself, now dubbed "The Green Room," received much more attention. Its classic albeit somewhat noncommittal Irish-pub decor has been replaced by what the PR calls a "more updated and rock 'n' roll look," which I'd describe as "slightly corny Hard Rock Cafe lite"—guitars hanging on the walls, cheetah-print tabletops, cymbals repurposed as light shades, and a dramatic drum-set chandelier that's actually pretty cool. Taffer has also revamped the food and cocktail menus and remodeled the outdoor patio to have a sterile, almost nightclubby feel.

Given how sadly underattended the Unsane show was (yes, it was chilly and raining, but there couldn't have been more than 50 people there at the end), God knows I'm rooting for the Abbey. The pilot episode of Bar Rescue is tentatively scheduled for July 19, so I guess we'll have to wait and see if the publicity helps. —Kevin Warwick

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