When people ask me where they can go to party on a Thursday night in Chicago, I often tell them a must go is Duke Shin’s Wicker Park soiree “The Goods.” It’s comfy, intimate, incredibly friendly and the music is just top notch. Shin is the resident conductor, his sound so versatile and eclectic that it embodies the character of the night itself.
For a weekly residency to make it to 5 years is a big deal, and we couldn’t be more proud of him. He has consistently curated a talented lineup of guests and for the anniversary month is packed with Chicago’s heavy hitters.
We asked Duke about the genesis of the night, what gives it its staying power and he’s also treated us with an exclusive mix 🙂
Duke Shin – The Goods Thursdays 5 Year Anniversary Mix
Recorded live by Goods resident Duke Shin, this mix is comprised completely of personal favorites and gems that have often found their way into his playlists. From early groove starters to more bumps as it continues, this mix is a jaunt into a typical Goods experience. Full tracklist follows the interview below.
So Duke tell us how your night started and specifically how you got with Swig? What was the concept for the music?
My friends were doing Thursdays already at Swig – a downtempo, acid-jazz, hip-hop night that had previously been up the street at The Note – and they hosted me as a guest DJ several times previously. As Thursdays eventually opened up, I was asked if I wanted to do a weekly and take over Thursdays. I’d always wanted to do a weekly, but didn’t have the time. March 2013 was more ideal, I guess.
The original concept for the Goods was more open-formatted on music. “No format, no cover, just ‘The Goods.'” I did that intentionally because I wasn’t sure about getting a more dance-oriented crowd to come out to a dive-bar (albeit a really great one) to hear DJs, or getting consistent numbers, initially. I always found it a bit strange and artificial feeling when it’s early and there isn’t much of a crowd yet to support more dance-y rhythms, and the DJ is pounding out 128 BPM something-rather to an empty joint.
I was a little burned out of my previous, larger-focused nights at the time, too, and wanted to do something more neighborhood feeling, more community feeling, less scene/club/being cool kind-of-thing, and back to the weeklies and regular events back in the day that got me excited to go out and hear DJs and music.
Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to develop a strong regular following, and the bar has supported us with some upgrades to booth equipment and sound, which has helped us grow, immensely. For the last couple years, the focus has definitely been more on dance-floor oriented sounds. Upgrading our sub definitely helped, there.
You’re also a regular DJ for the Freakeasy parties too yes? How long have you been connected with that community?
Yes. They’ve always been great to include me in most of their events since the beginning. A few years later they made me an official resident, and I feel really fortunate to have had the opportunities that have come from being involved over the past decade – literally over a hundred major events, from full-building venue take-overs, to festival installations and regular underground parties.
I remember you telling me that one of the things that gave your night longevity was that the owners of the bar really stuck by you and believed in you. That is a very rare thing in the industry, even with just bars and lounges.
I guess? Honestly, when I was younger, I was so stuck into my own ideals, that I wanted to find the perfect place to fit a certain aesthetic for a night or be able to perfectly showcase the talent booked, or whatever. But as time when on, I realized, for me, that it was far too exhausting and soul-crushing to be regularly justifying my existence to owners or promoters who really would rather we were jukeboxes or the big game on a big screen or bingo or something less pain-in-the-ass, like lowest common denominator musical programing. But I’ve always believed in neighborhood action as the heartbeat of a city. I guess the debate of Wicker Park’s viability has been ongoing (or over) for years, but Swig understood early that having someone who isn’t 100% idiot and passionate about what they’re doing is a good thing, that building a strong regular night takes time, and perhaps an occasional investment to match a changing environment. Support those who support you… that works on so many different levels. I have people who tell me the Goods Thursdays are their favorite night. That makes me feel awesome and sad at the same time… like, this is Chicago, and why isn’t there more?!
What do you think has been the secret to your success? Do the guest DJs matter as many like to think?
The secret to the success of the Goods has been its consistency. The guests absolutely matter. Consistency in talent and the passion of the featured guest DJs (more so than genre or popularity) are important. Playing regular, local, no cover nights… as DJs, we know what that means. Having so many talented DJs willing to share their talents just to play to an appreciative crowd is special. Sometimes I specifically make time to showcase my own sounds, but more often than not, my role week-to-week is to support our guests. I really enjoy playing early to set things up, and you can cover a lot more ground and tracks you might love and can’t play very often. Most of the time I feel the build-up of a night is overlooked these days.
This month we’ve booked a pair of guest DJs every week to celebrate our 5 year anniversary, but often times I’ll only book one guest to give more freedom and flow to the DJ. I’m not interested in a night that has 5 DJs playing 38.5 minute sets. Maybe that happens more often when you have a venue or promoter who needs “X” amount of whatever for you to stay there – which means the whole concept of what you wanted to do musically is compromised so… maybe I’m over-reaching. It could be just the fact that we turn the damn TVs off and move some table and aren’t jerks.
How long do you see yourself doing this for?
For the Goods, as long as it stays true to what it is, and I can keep it going, who knows? I mean, as it’s grown, it’s been tempting to think of doing something larger. But ultimately, what makes the Goods special is its intimacy and community of regulars, be it patrons or DJs. If I want to do something bigger, I do… but it’s not The Goods!
If you were talking abut DJing… wow, not sure. Film, writing, music… to me it’s all communication, and things that I’ve done previously or currently, and different mediums to just tell stories, but… it’s really hard for me, after a lifetime of unhealthy musical obsessions, and going on 15 years of DJing… not sure if I could ever stop doing it!
Celebrate 5 years of The Goods this month as Duke Shin invites Iz & Diz and Adrienne Sanchez (3/15), DJ Hyperactive and Jarvie (3/22) and DJ Lady D and (tba) (3/29) to Swig (1469 N. Milwaukee).
Duke Shin – The Goods Thursdays 5 Year Anniversary Mix Tracklist
1. Leftside Wobble – Dope Love
2. Slow Motion Replay – Think Better
3. Manni – Ape Funk
4. Floating Points – Vacuum Boogie
5. Todd Terje – Alfonso Muskedunder (Deetron Mix)
6. Matthew Dear – But For You
7. Adam Port – E Sound Edit
8. Jamie Anderson & Owain K – Do You Know (Jazz Reprise Mix)
9. Adesse Versions – Push It Along
10. The Working Elite – Freedom (Tuff City Acid Over Remix)
11. In Flagranti – Gridlock
12. Lee Marrow – Pain (John Dimas Edit)
13. Olene Kadar – Baby Keep It Up feat. D-Low
14. Joss Moog – Welcome to Ohio (Joss Moog Edit)
15. House of Black Dress – No One to Care For
16. Mr G – Mmm
17. Monday Club – Blackout
18. Brassroots – Good Life