THE FOUNDATION ROOMat House of BluesLocation: 329 N. Dearborn St. (Inside House of Blues)Price: $$$$Genre(s): Various/ElectronicBest For: Rich Yuppies / Expense Accounts / Elbow RubbersStaff Rating: 3/10Sound System Rating: 3/10Decor & Atmosphere Rating: 9/10Overall Rating: 6/10THE STAFFThe  Foundation Room has been fairly understaffed from my  experience, with  only one or two bartenders and the occasional cocktail  waitress, which  leads to long waits for drinks and generally mediocre  service. At these  types of clubs one can generally expect to wait a  while on busy nights  for drinks but when there are only 5 guests at the  bar and you still  end up waiting 20 minutes for a $10 vodka + soda it  can get pretty  annoying.THE SOUNDThere are many strong points of The  House of Blues Foundation room, and the sound is not one of them. The  main venue at the HOB has a massive, properly-tuned live sound system,  but The Foundation Room’s setup consists of two small PA speakers on  hand-mounted stands and no subwoofer, which makes playing any sort of  electronic music sound weak and tiny. The rating of the sound would’ve  been a two, but one of the cooler things about the club is the  implementation of a networked series of speakers in each subsequent  room. This gives an additional point to the rating but the fact that  none of the speakers are of any quality and the volume is not directly  accessible from the rooms detracts from the experience immensely. OVERALLThe  House of Blues itself is a phenomenal venue with great sound, a great  stage setup and a labyrinthian set of corridors, opera boxes and green  rooms. Somewhere in the middle of all this madness lies The Foundation  Room, a room you may not even have known existed having been to the HOB  before. The concept itself is very cool, the décor of the HOB is amazing  and creates a great atmosphere which The Foundation Room thrives on.  Doors and hallways lead to exclusive rooms and secretive feeling  locations which really gives The Foundation Room a feeling of being  hidden and secluded as if this would be the type of place you would  attend a secret society meeting. Unfortunately, unless the drink prices  change or the sound system gets upgraded, these secret meeting will have  to be attended by those with trust funds or expense accounts who care  less about music and more about climbing the social ladder and rubbing  elbows with wealthy folks. It’s a shame, because with different  management, The Foundation Room could easily become a favorite hangout  of mine and attract a much wider audience.

THE FOUNDATION ROOM
at House of Blues


Location:
329 N. Dearborn St. (Inside House of Blues)
Price: $$$$
Genre(s): Various/Electronic
Best For: Rich Yuppies / Expense Accounts / Elbow Rubbers
Staff Rating:
3/10
Sound System Rating: 3/10
Decor & Atmosphere Rating:
9/10
Overall Rating:
6/10

THE STAFF
The Foundation Room has been fairly understaffed from my experience, with only one or two bartenders and the occasional cocktail waitress, which leads to long waits for drinks and generally mediocre service. At these types of clubs one can generally expect to wait a while on busy nights for drinks but when there are only 5 guests at the bar and you still end up waiting 20 minutes for a $10 vodka + soda it can get pretty annoying.

THE SOUND

There are many strong points of The House of Blues Foundation room, and the sound is not one of them. The main venue at the HOB has a massive, properly-tuned live sound system, but The Foundation Room’s setup consists of two small PA speakers on hand-mounted stands and no subwoofer, which makes playing any sort of electronic music sound weak and tiny. The rating of the sound would’ve been a two, but one of the cooler things about the club is the implementation of a networked series of speakers in each subsequent room. This gives an additional point to the rating but the fact that none of the speakers are of any quality and the volume is not directly accessible from the rooms detracts from the experience immensely.

OVERALL
The House of Blues itself is a phenomenal venue with great sound, a great stage setup and a labyrinthian set of corridors, opera boxes and green rooms. Somewhere in the middle of all this madness lies The Foundation Room, a room you may not even have known existed having been to the HOB before. The concept itself is very cool, the décor of the HOB is amazing and creates a great atmosphere which The Foundation Room thrives on. Doors and hallways lead to exclusive rooms and secretive feeling locations which really gives The Foundation Room a feeling of being hidden and secluded as if this would be the type of place you would attend a secret society meeting. Unfortunately, unless the drink prices change or the sound system gets upgraded, these secret meeting will have to be attended by those with trust funds or expense accounts who care less about music and more about climbing the social ladder and rubbing elbows with wealthy folks. It’s a shame, because with different management, The Foundation Room could easily become a favorite hangout of mine and attract a much wider audience.

ANGELS & KINGS
at Hard Rock Hotel

Location: 230 N. Michigan Ave. (inside Hard Rock Hotel)
Price: $$$
Genre(s): Top 40/Electronic/Dance
Best For: Yuppies / Touring Rock Stars / Trust Fund Hipsters / Middle-Aged Hotel Patrons
Staff Rating: 8/10
Sound System Rating: 2/10
Decor & Atmosphere Rating: 6/10
Overall Rating: 5/10

THE STAFF
The wait staff at Angels and Kings is predominantly nice, friendly and offers speedy service. As the bar is not very big and there are usually two or three bartenders as well as a cocktail waitress, it usually does not take very long to get a drink, though you may have to muscle your way past the thick-necked guys that seem to park themselves on the bar stools whenever I’m there. The drinks themselves are fairly overpriced, but the bartenders are friendly and generally pour the drinks fairly strong. Their liquor selection is expansive and the specials are usually fairly well priced.

THE SOUND
The previous location of Angels and Kings had a mediocre sound system, and this new location’s is even worse. It seems as though when the club moved, they were too busy bringing the requisite wood-paneling and black trim décor to bring the sound system over, and as such, the club suffers. Besides an abundance of easily obtainable (preferably cheap) alcohol, the one thing a nightclub needs is a nice sound system. The management staff of AK must have missed that memo because the four ceiling-mounted speakers sound more like the Public Address system at a train station than they do a nightclub. The lack of a subwoofer makes for a very empty-feeling dance floor, and this is usually evidenced by the lonely patch of real-estate in front of the DJ booth.

OVERALL
Angels and Kings used to be located at 710 N. Clark St, a location that seems much more fitting than its current location in what was previously Base Bar in the Hard Rock Hotel. The original club had two separate floors and a passable, (though not great) sound system and had a darker, old-school vibe than the new location. Angels and Kings itself is owned by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy fame, so that should give the visitor a sense of the intended clientele, namely, rich hipsters and touring rock stars. Angels and Kings is an odd place in the sense that I have seen it packed to the gills with sweaty dancing hipsters crowd-surfing to dark, heavy electronic music and I have seen it completely empty save for the occasional hotel guest looking for a drink, all on the same weekly Thursday night party. Now that AK has moved even further downtown, the prices have gone up and the size of the venue has gone down, and in this recession, it’s anyone’s guess as to if and/or when Angels and Kings can accrue any sort of consistent turn out.

DEBONAIR SOCIAL CLUB
Home of REHAB

Location: 1575 North Milwaukee Avenue
Price: $$
Genre(s): Top 40/Party Jams/Hip Hop/Rock n Roll/Electro
Best For: Dancing / Drinking / Raging / Hipsters
Staff Rating: 8/10
Sound System Rating: 4/10 
Decor & Atmosphere Rating: 8/10
Overall Rating: 7/10

THE STAFF
The staff at Debonair consists of a few bartenders and cocktail waitresses who are usually very warm and fairly charming. Either Debonair hires nice people or very talented actors because it seems as though people don’t tip very often on their cans of PBR. Either way, the wait staff here is definitely on the friendly side, and they encourage a welcoming atmosphere.

THE SOUND
The sound system at Debonair is one of the areas that severely lacks. There are two floors with independent sound systems, and the downstairs is generally designated a DJ room, which is understandable because of the layout but generally fairly unpleasant as the sound is pretty awful. Several of the speakers sound like they are broken and fuzzy, and in order to compete with the upstairs system, the volume is cranked way up, which does not help the poor quality. Upstairs is a bit better, but the sound is still very brittle and lacks a lot of low end. DJ sets here can sound OK but I have never heard a live band sound good at Debonair.

OVERALL
If you don’t care about sound quality and just want a nice place to get wasted with your hipster friends, then Debonair is the place to be. Their weekly Monday night party entitled REHAB has been going for several years strong, and is definitely the night to check out. If you plan to drink a lot, go for the beer and liquor specials as this is still an $8 Jack and Coke type club unfortunately. Overall, this is a great place to be seen and hang out with your friends, but if you’re looking for a good set of speakers, head to SmartBar.

BEAUTY BAR
Chicago Franchise

Location: 1444 W. Chicago Ave.
Price: $$
Genre(s): Various/Electronic/Rock/Top 40
Best For: Girl’s Night Out/ Social Networking / Theme Nights
Staff Rating: 7/10
Sound System: 5/10 
Decor & Atmosphere Rating: 2/10
Overall Rating: 6/10

THE STAFF
Fairly nice staff for the most part, sometimes it can get very crowded and take quite a while to get a drink as there are usually only 2 or 3 bartenders and the club can get very busy. Bar staff are a bit snooty and pretentious, although I can imagine why with the variety of clientele and the terrible DJing that goes on at Beauty Bar.

THE SOUND
Before Beauty Bar existed, the venue previously known as Sonotheque contained an amazing sounding Funktion One sound system that was carried over to Beauty Bar when Sonotheque closed, but the speaker placement was rearranged when the dance floor was remodeled and the sound suffered greatly. Unfortunately even a top notch sound system without proper care can sound pretty bad. Additionally, the newly remodeled DJ booth faces awkwardly at the wall in between the bar and the dance floor and does not encourage crowd interaction or any sort of stage presence.

OVERALL
Beauty Bar is a franchise location, and for that reason the club itself is a bit stale with its sparkling glitter pastel paints and refurbished vintage hair-salon look. There is a fairly large dance floor, but its separation from the rest of the club and its distance from the bar can leave the flood empty, with most patrons preferring to stand around and talk in the bar area. Beauty Bar offers a $10 martini/manicure combo that is perfect for groups of ladies or men looking to pick up groups of ladies. The club is at its best on its theme nights, whether they be 80’s or 90’s inspired, or one of the ‘Die Tonight’ series of theme parties thrown by Chicago electronic act Midnight Conspiracy where guests are invited to dress in outrageous, often-horror inspired costumes and makeup.

SMARTBAR
at Metro

Location: 3730 N Clark St. (under Metro)
Price: $$$
Genre(s): Electronic/House/Electro/Disco/Funk/Dubstep/Drum’n’Bass
Best For: Dancing / DJ’s / Electronic Music Fans
Staff Rating: 7/10
Sound System Rating: 9/10 
Decor & Atmosphere Rating: 7/10
Overall Rating: 8/10

THE STAFF
The staff at SmartBar are extremely professional, having held more parties and afterparties than many of the city’s other clubs combined. The bartenders, while not warm and chatty are not entirely cold and void of charisma, they just are often too busy to exude any charm. Drinks are fairly expensive, but made rather quickly and are often on the strong side. It is somehow very easy to get quite intoxicated at SmartBar, and the club stays open until 4 or 5 AM on weekends, so be careful with those late-night vodka + Red Bull’s lest you be in pain the following morning.

THE SOUND
SmartBar has most likely the best sound system in the vast majority of the United States between New York and Los Angeles, and definitely the best in the Midwest area. Another Funktion One system, this setup was designed with loud electronic music in mind and never disappoints. SmartBar hosts the crème de la crème of the world’s electronic DJ’s and is the one place in Chicago that professional DJ’s will routinely pick to play, even over larger venues. If you value the low-end bass provided by the world’s best speaker company and the city’s best sound system, come to SmartBar.

OVERALL
As I previously stated, SmartBar plays host to the world’s best DJ’s when they come to Chicago. Situated directly under the Metro, arguably the city’s best live music venue, the quality and quantity of shows at SmartBar is second to none. If you want to go out for a quiet night on the town and have a long conversation with your friends, this may not be the place to go, but if you want to go out to a club to dance to great sounding music or just watch your favorite DJ spin some records, SmartBar is definitely the place to be.