Pat Mahoney, The Juan MacLean, and Kid Color at The Smart Bar

Pat Mahoney: photograph by Michael Egon Schiele

Rat Bag Red

My buddy Zak and I have been bootlegging beer for four years now. It started as a little operation in our kitchen —- two scruffy guys huddling over a 5 gallon kettle straddling two burners —- to a 25 gallon kettle and 20 cornelius kegs, nearly a legitimate operation. It only seemed fitting that I would bring a keg up for my cousin’s wedding in Kenosha. It should have been an easy task to finish a few gallons of beer with my family before needing to be back in Chicago for Pat Mahoney and The Juan MacLean to get their DFA on.

   Unfortunately, my maneuverings up north did not go as well as planned; the catering staff immediately put the kibosh on alcohol being served that was not purchased through their services. So we did what any self-respecting wedding-goers and groomsman would do: we drank it in the parking lot. Everything was working out perfectly, except we didn’t finish all the beer. We could only sneak away from the actual wedding a few times to whet our whistles on something other than the $2 Coronas the bar was offering. I had no other choice but to drive home with a half empty keg knowing there was no time to drop it off at home before getting to the Smart Bar.

   The Juan MacLean: photograph by Talley McLain

   By the time I arrived at Smart Bar, the place was already hopping. Kid Color was laying it down and the atmosphere was good. We knew we had about 30 minutes before The Juan MacLean was scheduled to start his set, so we did as any self-respecting individuals with a keg in their car does and drank from it, talking and smoking. We did this a few times throughout the evening, sitting in the quiet car as the Wrigleyville streets slowly found themselves vacant. We laughed about how adorable Juan MacLean was drinking champagne all night and then watching Pat Mahoney play his set from the DJ booth standing as a stoic body-guard. We struggled with concepts of family, thinking about the wedding I had just been to and the family like functionality of DFA. At some point around 5am we eventually left, satisfied.

The Juan MacLean complete with champagne: photograph by Michael Egon Schele

Kid Color: photograph by Michael Egon Schiele