Cook County is in debt. Well, the entire state is in debt actually. But Cook County is the biggest portion of the state with the highest population density, seeing as how it contains the entirety of Chicago. Anyways, when state and county governments are having trouble with their finances, they search for ways to earn or save money through any means necessary. Cook County just started barking up the wrong tree. Specifically, they’re dusting off an old law in an attempt to squeeze hundreds of thousands of dollars from Chicago’s small concert venues. The long and short of it is this: There’s a 3% “amusement tax” that’s supposed to be applied to ticketing fees or cover charges at any venue featuring live “fine art” performances. Concert venues with a capacity of 750 or less have been deemed exempt from this tax for several years now, but the county is now claiming all of them owe back taxes because live rock, hip hop and electronica performances do not qualify as “fine art.” Realistically if these small venues were forced to pay these back taxes, it’d put just about all of them immediately out of business. Needless to say, this will become a hotly debated issue over the next several weeks and months. I’m 100% on the side of the venue owners, because I believe all genres of music qualify as fine art, and have no desire to see any concert space shut down because of taxes. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out and sign this petition. Let’s hope the courts make the right decision. Without small venues, small bands would have nowhere to play. Bands like the ones highlighted in today’s Pick Your Poison. Don’t miss downloads from Alex Bent + the Emptiness, BOYO, The Deltahorse, HAWKING and Tangina Stone (ft. Crystal Caines). In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Califone, Computer Magic, Dej Loaf (covering Erykah Badu), Emma Ruth Rundle,
GRiZ (ft. Tash Neal), Itasca, Mick Jenkins (ft. BADBADNOTGOOD), MYZICA (covering The Cars), Negative Gemini, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Pop. 1280 and Vince Staples (ft. A$AP Rocky).
Alex Bent + the Emptiness – Hold On to Me Forever

BeLL – Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover)

BOYO – Alright

The Deltahorse – Happy Heart

Ephelant & Time – World War Me

HAWKING – Comfortable

IMAGIST – Lose My Faith

Tangina Stone – Ride Off (ft. Crystal Caines)


Califone – Mittens (4-track Version)

Computer Magic – Dimensions

Dej Loaf – Phone Down (DejMix)

Emma Ruth Rundle – Protection

GRiZ – Can’t Hold Me Down (ft. Tash Neal of The London Souls)

Itasca – Carousel

Mick Jenkins – Drowning (ft. BADBADNOTGOOD)

MYZICA ft. Ezra Carey – Drive (The Cars cover)

Negative Gemini – Rollercoaster

Planes Mistaken For Stars – Fucking Tenderness

Pop. 1280 – Pulse

Vince Staples – Prima Donna (ft. A$AP Rocky)