Blink and you might miss the strands of flashing lights distinguishing Wax Addict Records along the barren strip of Ashland. And boy, would you be sorry if you did. You probably wouldn't expect to find a record store, a clothing shop, a lounge, a music venue or even a bar here, let alone all of them in one storefront. But prepare yourself: Wax Addict is that storefront.
In 2003, Brian Cullen (better known as BjaK to those in the circuit) teamed up with a few local DJs who shared his aspiration to create an atmosphere where people could spin, listen, dance, talk and read. Mission accomplished. Enter this black hole and time ceases to exist: Find thick beats just loud enough to feel and soft enough to hear yourself think and a mellow ambiance set off by exposed-brick walls, soft red and orange lighting and plush vintage couches. Graffiti-inspired art made by local artists hangs on the walls interspersed with glass cases of classic vinyl beauties. Anyone's welcome to try their chops at one of the four tables. On occasional evenings the shop transforms into the "Beat Shoppe," turning the front checkout area into a bar, throwing a few TV monitors and projectors into the mix and hosting a roster of local DJs for the public's pleasure, free of charge.
While the shop carries a few CDs, the predominantly vinyl collection of house, techno, hip-hop, drum and bass, new wave, downtempo, and dance music is reputed as one of the best among Chicago DJs. In addition to supporting the local underground scene, Cullen travels across the country and to Europe to acquire rare recordings. The owners know everything about the music on the shelves and are happy to sit you down on a couch to tell you about it. Even if you're not hip to the DJ scene, fear not; it's a come-as-you-are kind of place.
Centerstage Reviewer: Emily Fiffer