Crobar Transforms into Kingsbury Hall & The Vibe

Just shy of the two-decade mark, Chicago nightclub institution Crobar closed in April but saw a rebirth late May as Kingsbury Hall, a live music venue.

Starting off with a few “soft openings” featuring special events and guest artists, owner Joey Vartanian has transformed his old Crobar space into a live music venue that will feature popular R&B, rock, pop and hip-hop performers throughout the week, followed up with a regular Saturday night-only “dance party” he calls The Vibe.

The result’s somewhere between a club and a concert hall — not completely one or the other — and Vartanian says it’s been drawing a more diverse crowd. This is a departure from Crobar’s core following of Euro-dressed clubsters and, on certain nights, gay men and women. “With The Vibe, we’re trying to go after the more urban professional crowd,” Vartanian says.

A new stage and separate DJ booth, enhanced booth seating, exposed brick, warmer colors and softer textures, along with an updated surround sound and lighting system, helped create The Vibe’s “new vibe.” Additionally, the DJ-driven lineup, which includes DJ Earworm, Adrie Marie and others, focuses “not so much on house music, but more on mashup, R&B and hip hop,” Vartanian says. Thus far, this stronger focus on live entertainment at Kingsbury Hall has brought in notable artists like Common, Kid Capri and other “Top 40s” performers.

By the fall, Vartanian hopes to recruit even more performers, but for now, he’s just trying to compete against the endless street and outdoor music festivals that fill up summer nights in Chicago.

Why the change? Vartanian says simply, it was time. “Crobar ran its course and the model for the modern nightclub has changed.” Live performance seems to be today’s trend, at least in Chicago. And with 9,000 square feet of space, Vartanian says it’s a challenge to keep things interesting. “When you’re a 900-person venue, you have to do something that drives bodies,” he says.

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