UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: Auris Presents will soon open The Outset, a 750-capacity venue with state-of-the-art sound and great sightlines in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. (All renderings courtesy Auris Presents)

Auris Presents To Open Outset In June

New York and Los Angeles are markets that will always dominate headlines and lead the charge when it comes to entertainment, but Chicago isn’t far behind with cultural contributions beyond that of sports and food. The Windy City is a hotbed for music with acts such as Chance the Rapper and Smashing Pumpkins. Reinforcing the concept is Outset, a 750-capacity venue set to open June 1 as a starting point for some artists.

The new club replaces Konkrete, an old music venue. Auris Presents, the promoter behind Outset, would not disclose the project cost. A local outlet reported it was a $2 million investment.

Outset is a fitting name for an intimate venue with such aspirations from the team at Auris Presents, headed by Nick Karounos, Stuart Hackley and John Curley, which is developing the 10,000-square-foot building in the Bucktown neighborhood on the North Side. It will complement an area already boasting The Salt Shed and The Hideout.

“We’re taking the literal meaning of Outset — a starting point — and applying that to where we see some of the talent that’s going to be playing this venue because it’s going to be one of their earlier plays,” Hackley said. “For the fans, we look at it as more of a figurative meaning, where they will be creating experiences and memories here. It may be someone’s first time seeing a band.”

Parliament Funkadelic featuring George Clinton and Dumpstaphunk will christen Outset, performing back-to-back nights. Other acts confirmed to perform at the venue this year include Rawayana, Pussy Riot and Boyfriend, Conway The Machine, Thievery Corporation and Cimafunk.

Outset will boast a state-of-the-art sound system and multiple bars, a wrap-around balcony and an outdoor patio area where fans can convene for a drink to discuss music or enjoy food from a rotating selection of food trucks.

NIGHT CAP: Outset will have several bars throughout the venue as well as an outdoor patio that will feature food trucks.

“It’s going to be a difference for the venue,” Hackley said. “Your typical experience with venues is you get in line to see the show and you get out. We’re really looking forward to giving fans that opportunity to be welcomed in and have some time with other fans and experiences within the venue prior to the show and after. Food and beverage is going to lean heavily on the way we utilize that patio and how the fans can interact with that as well.”

He said, “The second thing I’m most excited about the intimacy and level of production. I’m a big metal fan, and I may or may not get in the mosh pit of my own show for the first time in a long time. It’s going to be loud and it’s going to be tuned great.”

The concept for Outset began during the pandemic in late 2020, but it wasn’t until the following year that Auris Presents recognized a void in the city when it came to venues with less than 1,000 capacity. They essentially started from scratch, knocking down the nightclub to construct the venue as they envisioned it and making the necessary customizations.

“We wanted to develop something that put emphasis on the intimate experience, but we wanted to prioritize something that was artist-friendly and fan-focused on par with larger size rooms,” Hackley said. “There’s fantastic venues within the 500 to 1,000 capacity range throughout the country, and we found that not everything was prioritized in all fashions. We wanted to create something to check all the boxes and having the big factors of audio and light.”

VIEW FROM ABOVE: The Outset will also have a mezzanine with a wrap-around balcony, giving fans multiple viewing angles.

Hackley and his partners take the fan’s word seriously and are looking for community involvement when it comes to the utilization of the second floor. They are exploring different ideas at the moment, including VIP areas and record listening stations.

“We want to do something a little extra for the fans, and we have the space to work with,” Hackley said.

Outset complements the vibrant neighborhood and Auri Present’s portfolio. They already operate music venues Radius and Concord Music Hall.

Chicago is a market that has held steady the past few years and ranked No. 4 on Pollstar’s most recent Concert Market Rankings with a reported market gross surpassing $367 million, and the team at Auris Presents is optimistic that the live music business in the area will continue to grow.

“While there is a lot of volume and there can be saturation at times, everything tends to find its place, and businesses find a way to adapt to that ever-changing content,” Hackley said.