At a time when craft beers are thriving in Chicago, Revolution Brewery continues to lead the pack among local brewers. The Logan Square-based brewery recently turned 5-years-old and it is hard to argue that any local brewery has had more success during this time.
Revolution celebrated their anniversary by hosting a massive, sold-out party and concert on Friday March 13 at the Riviera Theatre (4746 N Racine) in Uptown. More than 2000 people packed the venue to watch performances by five acts, including Chicagoland rock band The Orwells and self-proclaimed party king, Andrew W.K.
The event was just as much of a beer drinking party as it was a concert. Each attendee received a complimentary Revolution koozie and drink ticket upon their arrival. The bars at the venue served Revolution products such as Anti Hero IPA, Fist City Pale Ale and A Little Crazy Ale.
Revolution started with humble beginnings. Founder Josh Deth began working in and around Chicago breweries in 1995 and in February 2010 he opened the Revolution Brewery on Milwaukee and California (2323 N Milwaukee.)
Over the years the company quickly grew in size and popularity. In 2014, Revolution brewed more than 50,000 barrels of 60 different beers, many which are seasonal and/or special releases.
Since Revolution Brewing exploded into the Chicago beer scene five years ago, it has become one of the most recognizable and liked brands in the city. So it’s only fitting they would get The Orwells, one of Chicago’s best up-and-coming bands, to perform at their party.
The five-piece band from Elmhurst, Illinois has an indie, garage-rock sound with edgy yet refined guitar riffs and angsty, rebellious lyrics. Their sound and style are similar to an early 2000’s Strokes, as well as the Black Lips and Fidlar.
The Orwells have gained national and international attention over the past year-and-a-half thanks to their lively performance of “Who Needs You” on the Letterman Show and a headlining North American and world tour; Pretty impressive for a bunch of 20 and 21-year-olds.
The band took the stage around 9 pm and by that time the large main level was shoulder-to-shoulder standing room. The Orwells powered through an energetic set featuring song mostly off their 2014 album, Disgraceland.
Frontman Mario Cuomo is known for his lively stage performances, carelessly dancing and sauntering across stage in a Jim Morrison like manner. He threw himself around in an effortlessly-cool way during the band’s performance of “Halloween All Year,” a grungey song about adolescent-angst and misunderstanding. Cuomo screamed his lyrics, “You’re young, they don’t listen, but I believe. Grab a knife, from the kitchen, and follow me.”
Due to the nature of the event, not everyone in the audience was familiar with The Orwells, but their entertaining performances of songs like “Mallrats,” “Southern Comfort” and “Gotta Get Down” had the crowd dancing and, on few occasions, moshing along.
The crowd bounced around to the band’s closing performance of their 2014 popular single “Who Needs You,” a song with a youthfully defiant sound. After the song, Cuomo left in style by scaling the side wall to reach one of the hanging balconies overlooking the stage.
Revolution’s Josh Depth came out after to address and thank the crowd for coming in between performances. This led to him leading an acapella chant of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” keeping the crowd energetic and entertained. Well that and the beer.
Then came the headlining performance of self-proclaimed party king Andrew W.K. who has built a cult-like following since he started releasing music in the early 2000’s. W.K.’s unique combination of metal, pop and dance party-anthems had the crowd moshing and jumping along to his performance. The show reached its pinnacle when W.K. and his band performed his most popular song “Party Hard” to conclude an eventful night.
The anniversary party was a huge success for Revolution, but it’s not the only thing special the brewery has planned to celebrate the anniversary. They recently released a limited-edition IPA beer called Fifth Year in honor of the milestone. The beer is made with German hops and three different malts to give it a clean, smooth taste.
Fifth Year can be found for a limited time on tap at participating bars around Chicago.
Revolution also plans on releasing their Fist City Chicago Pale Ale in cans year round starting this April. It is a drinkable, light beer for a pale ale, with only 5.5 percent alcohol per can.
Fist City was created last year to be served exclusively at Big Star in Wicker Park, but the beer was so successful that Revolution decided to expand its production and serve it to the general public year round.
Five years is a relatively short time for a company to exist, but Revolution has accomplished an awful lot while keeping their local roots during this time. It’s hard to imagine the brewery doing anything in the future besides building on their success.