The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

‘This is my legacy’: How students masterminded Joe’s Brewery’s themed nights

Matt Stepp
The iconic red neon sign of Joe’s Brewery.

Joe’s Brewery, a popular bar on the University campus, will be hosting a One Direction-themed event on Tuesday. This is one of many artist-themed nights that the bar hosts.

Jacob Krueger, senior in Business, is the creator of the first Joe’s themed night: Taylor Swift night. Since then, Joe’s has hosted additional nights themed after Swift and added nights themed after Drake, One Direction and other artists. 

Joelle Ricci, junior in LAS, is a bartender at Joe’s. She’s worked a few of the themed nights and said she was interested in the themed nights because of their high energy.

“The themed nights are a great way to make a slower night more fun,” Ricci said. “The people who come out are passionate about whatever artist or theme the night is for.”

Ricci said that every semester they plan even more fun events.

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“Our management works really hard to create and promote each night and they do a great job,” Ricci said. 

Regarding inspiration for the themed nights, Krueger said he’s been a fan of Swift since 2006 and has seen bars across the nation do Taylor Swift-themed nights.

“They just played her music and everyone dressed up,” Krueger said. “And I said, ‘What’s a better place to do it than a college campus filled with teenage girls, guys and everyone in between?’”

Krueger said he messaged three popular on-campus bars — KAMS, The Red Lion and Joe’s — via Instagram about his idea. Only Joe’s responded showing interest, but they were not yet sold on the idea.

Krueger took to, a website where anyone can create a petition for others to sign. His petition for a Swift night at Joe’s received around 300 signatures. 

After that, Joe’s chose to put the idea into action. 

Krueger collaborated with Ava Shaw and Liz LeBeau, who ran the UIUC Swifties Instagram, to organize the event.

Krueger said the trio collaborated on T-shirt designs and that he mainly did the tracklist for the night.

Liz LeBeau, senior in LAS, said Joe’s handled the ticketing and advertisement, though the three students also did advertising of their own. 

“(Joe’s) did most of the work, we just had the idea,” LeBeau said.

Krueger and LeBeau noted how easy it was to communicate with Joe’s when they were planning the event.

“They were always extremely fast,” Krueger said. “There wasn’t any discrepancy between what we knew and what they knew.”

However, not everything turned out to be smooth sailing during the second Taylor Swift-themed night — there was an issue with the music this time around.

“The DJs they had assigned were not fully big fans, and that’s fine,” Krueger said. “I don’t think you need to be a big fan, but they had started playing a lot of random songs that weren’t fit for a bar.”

Krueger said it wasn’t an issue with tempo or pace, but rather that not everyone knew the songs that were being played, which led to a majority of the crowd starting to get bored during the night.

“I had a manager pull me aside and say ‘What’s going on? Everyone’s not leaving but just looking like they’re miserable,’” Krueger said.

Angela Civantos, sophomore in Business, who has attended a few of Joe’s themed nights, expressed disappointment in the music selections for the Zach Bryan-themed night as well. 

“They barely played any Zach Bryan, and it was not advertised enough,” Civantos said. “It just felt like a regular night.”

Civantos also attended the Swift and Harry Styles nights and enjoyed them, but said she would have liked to have heard more upbeat songs to dance to.

Besides some issues with the music, however, the nights had great turnouts.

“What I appreciated was that there was no judgment, which rarely happens at a college bar,” Krueger said. “Everyone was just having a good time.”

LeBeau, the founder of the registered student organization Taylor Swift Society, said she values the work that Joe’s and the other collaborators have done.

“It’s crazy the life of its own it’s taken,” LeBeau said. “It’s kind of nice knowing that that’s one of my impacts on campus. This is my legacy, this is what I’m here for.”

“They helped create a vision and physically make my demand into real market value,” Krueger said. “I feel fulfilled and I know a lot of friends that were fulfilled as well. It was very satisfactory.”

Since then, Joe’s has taken the reins and used their own resources for the more recent themed nights.

“Their team is full of college students just like me,” Krueger said. “So they have a similar mindset to what I do. They’ve kind of just taken the wheel since then, but we’re still on good terms.”


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About the Contributor
Matt Stepp
Matt Stepp, Visual Director
Hey there! I’m Matt, I’m currently a first-year majoring in Graphic Design, with a minor in media. I started here at the Daily Illini in the fall of 2023 as a staff photographer, and now serve as the Visual Director for the Daily Illini. I have always loved photography, you will probably see me around campus shooting sports and other events. I’m also an artist and love watercolor painting and illustration. If you’re a swimmer or enjoy the pool, you may see me at the ARC or CRCE working as a lifeguard as well, I’m never away from a pool for too long!
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