For Those In Need Of A Little Wax Trax! Action: Front 242 Returns To Chicago's Metro This Saturday!


Every time I walk past the dentist's office at 2449 N. Lincoln Avenue, where Wax Trax! Records once resided, I die a little bit inside and can't help think of the line in "Big Yellow Taxi" that goes "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

See, for much of the last awesome decade ever, a.k.a. "The '80s" , 2449 N.Lincoln Avenue WAS paradise.  Lemme hit you with a story.

As a kid growing up in Michigan surrounded by buffoons, I became the town's first punk rocker.  My grades went to shit as I "applied myself" not to my studies, but to amassing an encyclopedic knowledge of all the coolest punk and new wave bands of the time.  Mind you, I hadn't actually seen or heard any of these albums, for they were not available at either of the Musicland mall locations nearest me, but had read about them in the pages of Trouser Press or whatever discerning music mag I could get my hands on.  Back in those days, the local newsstand carried NME and Melody Maker, too, which helped.

2449 N Lincoln Ave today, where Wax Trax! Records was located.
Long story short, I had heard about Wax Trax! Records and when my girlfriend won tickets to see Cheap Trick open for REO Speedwagon at Poplar Creek, I saw my opportunity.  About midway through our trip, I started telling her about Wax Trax! and how we should maybe stop by either before or after the show.  We agreed it was best to go "after the show", which meant getting out of the parking lot before the first strains of REO's opening number could be heard.  With Zander yelling "goodnight now ladies and gentlemen" behind us, we exited the venue as if it were about to blow and successfully laid rubber in a gravel parking lot.

The city of Chicago and Wax Trax! Records awaited us.

If we'd had a map or directions, that would have helped immensely, but we did not and, as a result, we literaly wound our way up and down the streets of Chicago for what seemed like days blindly hoping to stumble upon Wax Trax! Records.  Eventually, we stopped at a gas station and asked for directions.  They looked at us as if we'd just beamed down from our home planet and gave us directions to another gas station that might be able to help us.

I had called Wax Trax a couple days earlier to get their hours - they were open until ten.  It was now a little after 11PM.  Do I dare tell my girlfriend?  No, best to at least SEE Wax Trax! before I die.  At 11:30, it finally happened:  above the screeching bus brakes and horns honking, I swore I could hear PiL's "Public Image" playing.  A few seconds later, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of despair, was the mecca known as Wax Trax! Records.  And still open for business, too!

The minute I stepped inside, my already-overwhelmed senses raced to take it all in: the people, the decor, the ALBUMS!  My girlfriend made a valiant attempt at feigning interest in the fact that the Lords Of The New Church AND The Chameleons both had new albums I had heard nothing about.
It was the sort of joyous religious experience I wish every soul could experience at least once in their lifetime because this one was REAL.

A few months later, I changed colleges and moved my operation to the Windy City.  They may not have known it, but DePaul University had one hell of a recruiting tool in Wax Trax! Records, for I would have had no interest in giving them any of my parents money had it not been for their proximity to the greatest record store on the planet!

Wax Trax! wasn't just a store, though.  It was a record label too and, unlike other record stores that dabbled in the label biz, Wax Trax! has the distinction of creating its own genre.  Call it aggro, call it industrial, call it acid house, Wax Trax! deserves a lion's share of the credit for shaping the city's dance scene because, let's face it, where were most DJ's in town getting their records?

As a result, a trip to Neo's, Medusa's, Smart Bar, Avalon, or a number of other clubs meant being turned on to the latest greatness to come from the musical mecca known as Wax Trax! Records.  Ministry, Front 242, Wiseblood, Luc Van Acker, The Young Gods, Revolting Cocks and others came to major prominence thanks to the label's ambition and savvy.

The label was also responsible for influencing a young Trent Reznor to completely ape Ministry's sound for his own band's debut album Pretty Hate Machine.

Whoever said all good things must come to an end must have been a total party pooper in real life, but in the case of Wax Trax!, they were absolutely right.  With their bigger bands jumping ship for major labels by the early '90s, both the label and retail location fell on hard times.  By the mid-90's, those halcyon days were but a memory.

Those hankering for just a little taste of "what was" no doubt loved every second of Wax Trax's recent Retrospectacle, but this weekend offers yet another trip down memory lane as Cold Waves III comes to The Metro this weekend.

Of course the highlight of the entire affair will be Front 242 and Cocksure performing Saturday 9/27 at The Metro (and YES, tickets are still AVAILABLE!. Wax Trax! will be taking over the Metro box office space to offer some cool new releases that can only be had by showing up and grabbing one before they're gone.

The one that has us most giddy is the limited-edition (200 copies) Front 242 "Take One" box, which will be available only at the show.

Did we mention tickets are still available?!



Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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