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Congress Theater Bans EDM Shows in Agreement With The City of Chicago

Eddie Carranza, the owner of The Congress Theater, and the City of Chicago have placed a ban on all future Electronic Dance Music shows at the popular venue. The Congress Theater has been shut down since last year since it lost its liquor license from the city. The ban is a result of negotiations between the city and The Congress Theater.

The Congress Theater lost its license after an investigation lead by the CPD Vice unit discovered the security staff seizing drugs from concertgoers and then reselling them. There are also reports of severe beatings performed by the security staff after one concert attendee took the stand in a hearing held by the Chicago Liquor Control Commission (CLCC). The theater was also accused of letting underage patrons in to a Rusko concert and failing to call 911 when a brawl broke out at a Chief Keef concert, which is required by law.

CLCC commissioner Gregory Speadman said that his concern is with the size of the venue and not EDM necessarily stating,

“We’re not saying EDM are all bad but in venues of this size — 5,000 seats — we don’t feel this is appropriate for the Congress…There’s a rising level of concern about these events and whether or not they’re safe, but this is about what the community wants and the type of entertainment they want to see there.”

Speadman does elaborate that this is not the fault of artists or fans in the EDM industry. Stating that this is the result of major mismanagement of concerts under the guidance of Carranza.

“It’s not the genre, it’s the way the owner handles the genre… I don’t blame the genre or the artists, it’s the operator who has to be able to handle the crowd. Unfortunately, the Congress has a history of not being able to manage certain types of crowds.”

The terms and conditions stated in the agreement reached by the City of Chicago and The Congress Theater clearly states that any future owner cannot host any EDM performances.

“The business address, the licensee, and to all officers, managers, partners, and direct or indirect owners of the licensed entity. The sale of the business to other person purchasing the stock or membership units of the licensed entity does not void the conditions of this Plan of Operations. Any and all potential new owners of the licensed entity shall be subject to the same conditions set forth in this Plan of Operation.”

There does seem to be a loophole in the contract however. It lies in the language used to define an EDM show. When defining what music can be played, the contract states:

“Performers that incorporate electronic beats or prerecorded music in their acts shall be allowed, provided those performers either sing vocals or play an instrument(s) (or do both) during their performance.”
So this would allow artists like Pretty Lights, Tycho, or Big Gigantic to perform at the venue.

The genre of music doesn’t make the shows safe or not. The people attending the show and the people operating the show are what make things safe. Should we ban hip hop because of it’s degradation of women and that it fosters a violent environment? Clearly that doesn’t make any sense. There is plenty of positive hip hop out there and it would be a robbery to the music industry to ban that genre out right. Recently there was a Keith Urban show in Mansfield, Massachusetts, where a lot of people were taken to the hospital and was categorized as a mass casualty event. Should we ban country music? The answer is no.

The City of Chicago has made a grave misjudgment of what is really going here. The obvious problem concerning safety is not with Electronic Dance Music at all. The problem is with the management and security staff. There will continue to be problems for The Congress Theater in the future because they did not remove the common factor in the problem which is the management.

Luckily, with Chicago acting as the home of house music, there are plenty of other equally amazing venues that will gladly accept the EDM patronage for the future. Do you think the city of Chicago went to far by singling out one genre of music?


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Written By

Phillip was raised on so many different genres of music, it has given him a unique perspective into the ever evolving music scene. Trance music began defining his life at the young age of 14, but thoroughly enjoys any type of music equally. He sees the music as an escape from the daily doldrums of life and says music can change a persons life in an instant pulling from his own experiences. His only goal in life is to share wonderful music with people and take electronic music to a higher plain with more accountability and creating a safer environment for his friends.

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