Best café–rock club–record store (2008)

Cake Shop

Microbrew or espresso? Cake, cookie, CD, or—egad!—vinyl? These are just a hint of the what-to-do-with-my-time-and-money conundrums one faces at the wacky L.E.S. indie-/noise-rock Shangri-la Cake Shop. Upstairs, facing the street, there's a seemingly normal café, serving tea, sandwiches, bagels, brownies, and cupcakes (all with a strong vegan/veggie bent). In the back, a record store that looks like a '70s teenager's rec room specializes in the finest of today's noisy, scruffy, subterranean DIY sounds. This is a brilliant, rabble-rousing mini-mall of itchy rawk coolness, downtown weirdo performance art, and lowbrow gallery space, featuring comic art. Some recent notable performances: elf princess Rev Jen and her Anti-Slam crew, Chicago no-wave/free-jazz/death-metal spaz lords the Flying Luttenbachers, and numerous (weekly) freaky angular dance-rock trance-math hybrids.


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