O’Banion’s

661 N Clark St.

O’Banion’s took its name after 1920s gangster Dion O’Banion but this bar achieved more notoriety and historical importance as the epicenter of Chicago’s burgeoning punk rock movement in 1978. After the city’s original punk club La Mere Vipere mysteriously burned down the year before, the action moved to O’Banion’s, which had been a strip club and gay bar in a generally neglected area of River North. Even though there was only a small stage in a back room, no in-house sound system, barely adequate lighting and dysfunctional restrooms, the place energized bands that created defiant new sounds of their own. Some of the Chicago-based groups who performed at O’Banion’s included Naked Raygun, Articles Of Faith and Strike Under. The venue also hosted upstart touring bands that would go on to global fame, including The Replacements and Dead Kennedys. While O’Banion’s closed in 1982 the spirit of providing new bands space to perform and build scenes of their own lived on through such venues as Metro, Hideout and Empty Bottle.


– A.C. 


Caption: Former location of O'banon's.


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