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Lucero Shake Loose in Chicago

During a surprise, word-of-mouth set, the Memphis-based alt-country quartet get cozy with rare cuts and booze aplenty.

On the heels of an over-the-top performance Saturday night at a Chicago street festival, Lucero returned to treat a crowd of true believers with a secret, unannounced show at the Empty Bottle last night (June 1). The band’s beer-soaked rock’n’roll was right at home at the intimate venue, and lead singer Ben Nichols took full advantage by keeping a running dialogue with the tipsy denizens all night. And when he sang, “Some nights don’t pan out at all, some nights are gold,” from the rarely played “Hearts on Fire,” it was obvious which side of that equation the audience was on.

It clearly wasn’t the tightest set, but to fret would be to miss the point entirely. This was an evening to have a drink together, to share laughs and sing along with the band, evident in the raised, clinking pint glasses and off-kilter group shouts. And before finishing things off with a rousing version of “Tears Don’t Matter Much,” off 2003’s That Much Further West, Nichols thanked the Empty Bottle “for putting up with our shit, since we’ve been drinking since 1:30 P.M.” The glowing crowd, who had put in some hours themselves, didn’t mind a bit.

We asked: In light of tonight’s special show, what is the best secret gig you’ve ever seen?

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We Asked: Lucero announced tonight that they would be playing a secret show at a small venue (the Empty Bottle) tomorrow evening.What is the best secret show or large band in a small venue that you’ve caught?

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More photos from this show >>

Lucero / Photo by Laura Gray

Lucero / Photo by Laura Gray

Lucero / Photo by Laura Gray

Lucero / Photo by Laura Gray

Lucero / Photo by Laura Gray

Lucero / Photo by Laura Gray

Lucero fans / Photo by Laura Gray

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Read the fans’ answers >>