The floor is normally full of people, the stage alive with movement and sound. But right now, it’s empty. No crowds, no music — just Richard Clark in the home he created for his music and aspiring performers in Chicago.
“We’ve gotten to see a lot of bands grow,” said Richard Clark, the proprietor of Logan Square’s D.C. Torium. “I feel like we offer a place where it’s pretty easy to do a show and get your friends to come out.”
Clark, a high school paraprofessional, has been playing music for most of his life. The D.C. Torium, 3026 W. Armitage Ave. in Logan Square, began as a platform to showcase his own work and serve as a space for his band to practice, perform and store equipment, he said.
“I got tired of playing in sports bars — places where there was a mixed use or a lot of distractions,” said Clark. “Here, we focus on what the art is.”
Since opening in July 2014, the D.C. Torium has been providing a space for local and touring artists to hold shows and gain experience and recognition without the pressures that come with bigger venues.
“We’ve had lots of first shows and record releases,” said Clark. “It’s a great place to put on a specific vision of a night you want without sacrificing quality of sound and location.”
Although the venue mainly serves as a space for music performances, it hosts other types of performing arts shows including dance, mixed variety and spoken word.
“We try to have as open a door as possible,” said John Clark, the lighting and sound technician at the venue and Richard Clark’s uncle. “Any artist, act, type of music or medium, there’s an opportunity for the artist to do their work and get it out there for the people to enjoy.”
The D.C. Torium has developed a presence as a welcoming do-it-yourself space in Chicago for local and touring bands, who can organize their own shows with Richard Clark.
“It’s a really underrated venue,” said Owen Misterovich, the lead singer/guitarist of Paddlefish, a Chicago-based band that plays regularly at the D.C. Torium. “[It’s] one of the first places that was open to us playing, which was really helpful for our growth.”
The D.C. Torium’s shows are normally all ages, making them more accessible to fans of music than most small venues and bars in Logan Square that are 21+. Both John and Richard Clark emphasized the importance of accessibility and quality when opening the space.
“I think it’s a huge benefit for the DIY music community to have a space like the D.C. Torium,” John Clark said. “We want it to be a space for everyone.”
Some of the bands that have played at the D.C. Torium have gone on to play at Lollapalooza or be featured in Pitchfork, John Clark said.
“We’ve seen so many amazing artists come through,” John Clark said. “I feel blessed just to be able to witness all that.”
As the space continues to grow, Richard Clark hopes to expand their calendar with monthly variety shows along with the regular performances and music lessons offered.
“I feel like I’ve helped provide the community with a space that’s more like a small theater,” he said. “There’s always great music and performers here.”