Lili Trifilio raves about the best music, food, and coffee spots in the windy city.
This article originally appeared in print in AdHoc 29.
In Best In Your Town, we ask artists to talk about the local institutions that make their hometown like no other place on earth. For this issue, we asked Lili Trifilio, frontwoman of Chicago indie pop quartet Beach Bunny, to chat about her favorite food spots, bookstores, and music venues in the city.
Lili Trifilio: Oh my gosh. That’s so hard. For bigger venues, I do love Thalia Hall. It’s so, so cool that we get to play there—it’s a beautiful theater that was built some time in the 1800s. For a smaller venue, the Subterranean holds a special place in my heart. That’s where all the local music kind of starts. When you start out at Subterranean, you’re just like, “Aw, I wanna play the upstairs,” because you kind of get thrown into the downstairs. And then as soon as you play upstairs, you’re like, “Damn. Okay.” We played our Prom Queen EP release show in the upstairs area, and it was sold out. Everyone was dressed in prom attire. It was a super magical show.
There’s this place called the Map Room that’s down the street from me. It’s a pub and a café rolled into one. I like to type on my laptop over there, and I feel like it’s more lowkey than some of the other cafés in Chicago. I usually get a soy chai latte; [I work on] poetry, or sometimes I write music blog posts. It gets poppin’ at night, but it’s nice. There’s sunlight and it’s just really calm.
Oooh. It’s in Wicker Park: Myopic Books, a really cool vintage bookstore. There’s a no cellphones, no pictures policy there, so when you read, you’re really immersed. They have a lot of used books as well, which is nice because you gotta get that discount. I’m always on the hunt for, like, motivational reads. [I got a book there recently] called Your Survival Instinct Is Killing You. It’s talking about how certain evolutionary things like fear and avoiding your problems are just holding you back, so you have to retrain your brain—it’s a good read!
Best late-night food spot
The boys and I—we love food. The Chicago Diner is really great. It’s a vegan place, which is really nice. We’ve had first meet-ups with our managers [there], and we talk to label people there. It’s one of those places where I feel like we’ve gotten to know a lot of people. We also like this place called Ground Control, which has really great food as well. It’s hard to pick between those two. We also love Taco Bell, but I won’t include that [laughs].
People are gonna get mad at me—I feel like there’s a lot of great neighborhoods, for a lot of different reasons. Right now I live in Bucktown, which is near Wicker Park and Logan [Square]. I love that whole general area—there’s a lot of younger people and creatives. But I’ve lived in West Town and Lincoln Park, and those have been great too. But for people in music, living in the Logan/ Wicker area is great, because there’s so many people that are also doing that.
They’ve been painting a lot of these cool commemorations to deceased actors or singers in the area. There’s this really cool one of Robin Williams that’s super detailed. It’s a painting of his face, and the background is genies. It’s one of those things where you see it and you’re like, “That has to be a photo,” because it’s so well done. I love that guy too. I pass that every day, so I guess that one.
Best local radio station
I feel like I should plug my college [laughs]. So many of my friends work there, and I feel like that really helped Beach Bunny get plays initially. Just any of the DePaul [University] radio shows, I would say—check them out. They have a good mix of people doing different things. It’s cool to hear a lot of local music from there.
The best thing about Chicago? Aw, I love Chicago! I grew up here, so it has that home element. I think the people are great and I love that there’s a balance of the big city, but you still have the lake, and the suburbs aren’t that far away if you want to get away. For music, I completely attribute living in Chicago to the success of Beach Bunny. It’s hard to believe that there’s such a strong community in the city. Without all of the lovely people that are putting in the groundwork and building all of these venues and communities, I don’t think Beach Bunny would be where it’s at.
Beach Bunny’s debut album Honeymoon comes out February 14 via Mom+Pop Music. Although the band’s home base is Chicago, their new track is more preoccupied with California. Dive into the video for “Ms. California” below.