Chicago Theater Bans EDM Shows

Is this the beginning of the end for the dance music genre?

Electronic dance music has come a long way from its early origins in the underground club scene to today's major concert circuit. In recent weeks, however, the genre has drawn attention for the wrong reasons: DNAinfo Chicago recently reported that Chicago's Congress Theater has banned EDM shows. In an agreement between the city and the theater owner, the Congress—which had its liquor license revoked last year—is prohibited from playing EDM, even if the venue is sold to a new owner. Reportedly, residents nearby have complained about the EDM shows and the audience they attract. According to a document, Gregory Steadman, the city's local liquor commissioner said: "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." City Alderman Joe Moreno told DNAinfo that the ban is too much, adding that he doesn't blame EDM itself but rather how the venue handles the crowds. This latest development comes in the wake of the Mad Decent Block Party incident in Maryland on August 1, when two fans allegedly died from drug overdoses and 20 others were hospitalized. Following that tragedy, security tightened the week after when the festival hit Coney Island in Brooklyn, in which audience members were required to go through a pre-show screening, CBSNewYork.com reported

Whether the EDM ban at the Congress Theater could be the start of a trend or is just an aberration, the popularity of the genre is still growing within mainstream culture and has crossed over into other genres, including rapreggae, and gospel. While EDM star Porter Robinsonwho we interviewed for the August/September issue, holds a monthly residency at one of the highest-grossing clubs in Las Vegas, he's ready to take his new, more ethereal take on the EDM sound on his new album Worlds to the masses: “I want my music to be really big...I want to do this in front of a lot of people.” 

Ironically the Windy City, the scene of this latest controversy, is also the birthplace of the acid house sound that influenced the development of EDM—an important and historical musical movement spearheaded by pioneer DJ Pierre of Phuture, whom The FADER recently spoke with. “It all stems from Chicago, to be honest," he says. "That’s why I don’t agree with people acting as though this whole EDM thing started a few years ago...People are starting to think it didn’t start in Chicago, that it started somewhere else. It started here!”

It's interesting how local outrage towards EDM at this particular venue in Chicago mirrors another musical movement from over 50 years that drew scrutiny for its supposed link to delinquency. At last check, rock and roll is still around. If history is a guide, EDM fans shouldn't worry too much about the genre's future.

Photo of Krewella performing at the Congress Theater in Chicago by Mitch Doner, licensed under Creative Commons.

Chicago Theater Bans EDM Shows