Official Opinions: Summer Festivals

Summertime in Chicago means two things: 1) The Cubs will assuredly break my heart once again and 2) Festivals with awesome live music. In the spirit of festival season, I’m going to post about my festival experiences so far this summer and on Friday, Rachel will post about her experience at Pitchfork this past weekend!

This summer funds are a bit tight and my time is stretched pretty thin between interning and freelancing as a graphic designer, so I’ve had to be particularly selective about what festivals I choose to spend my money and time on. So far, I’ve only made it out to the Chicago Folk and Roots Festival and Windy City Ribfest, but I am definitely planning on going to the Chicago Country Music Festival in October (yeeeee hawww!) and my annual trip to the Chicago Jazz Festival in September.

Chicago Folk and Roots Festival – So my experience at the Folk and Roots Festival was pretty rad, because I LOVE folk and roots music. Bluegrass, Cajun Folk, Folk rock, Old Time, Americana… you name it. Regrettably, it wasn’t a long experience for me – I worked in the morning until mid afternoon on Saturday and had another set of plans for later that evening, so I was only able to attend two and a half sets. I saw the James King Band (Traditional Bluegrass), The Red Stick Ramblers (Cajun/Honky-Tonk) and a brief bit of The Occidental Brothers (West African Dance Band).  All in all, it was a comforting few hours with some great music, a great atmosphere and great weather. It’s a new “must go to” festival for me. I will surely be there both days next year.

Windy City Ribfest – I love good ribs. I also love when there is good music to accompany my rib devouring. This time, my festival experience was a throwback to my childhood: 90’s rock.  Tonic and Sister Hazel were the big names this year, and let me tell you – it was fun singing all of the old songs that I listened to in middle school with a bunch of other sweaty, rib-loving twenty-somethings. Tonic was good, but for me… Sister Hazel was the highlight. This marks the second time I’ve seen them live in the past two years (the other being at the House of Blues). With my tasty ribs in hand (from Uncle Bub’s) and an ice cold Miller Lite to help me beat the heat, I could think of no better way to spend my evening than to listen to Sister Hazel. They’ve still got it.

Other festivals I’ve missed (or will miss)

Chicago Blues Festival: I wish I had been able to go – I’ve been in years past and am always pleased. Chicago is arguably the home and heart of blues music, so this festival is really a no-brainer. I had to spend time studying for my GRE instead. Darn it.

Pitchfork: not really my thing – I dig Indie Music, but I leave it to the pros who really know their stuff (like Rachel!) I just really, honestly didn’t know much about any of the acts this year. See the blog on Friday for more insight into this year’s Pitchfork though!

Lollapalooza: I survived the great storms of Lolla ’09, and it was a blast. This year however… I’m not that impressed by the lineup. Not at all. I just can’t get behind paying Lolla prices for this set of groups and a group of headliners I’m just not all that excited about.

There are countless other smaller festivals that have great music – so if you haven’t done it yet, GET OUT AND EXPLORE! Really, some of the best entertainment comes cheap (or free) here in the city, so take advantage of it!

Rock on,

Derek, Marketing Intern



1 Response to “Official Opinions: Summer Festivals”

  1. 1 kate monte
    July 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I agree with you about Lolla lineup being lame…it’s a great music festival to bring kids to (it’s free!) and my 11 1/2 year old would have loved to see Green Day, but for the money, totally not worth it. Seems like Lolla is getting too big and lining up acts that otherwise would be relegated to Metro at best…last year wasn’t so great, either, with Depeche Mode’s show a complete disappointment to anyone old enough to have attended their concerts back in the day.

    We went to Pitchfork on Friday, primarily to see Modest Mouse. It was my second Pitchfork fest, having gone in ’08 for the first time. It is clear that I am getting to be an old suburbanite. I have discovered that I cannot stand smoke. And I used to smoke! It’s a sad commentary when you actually seek out the spliff smokers so as to mask the smell of tobacco smoke. I also think I don’t like crowds. Or being outside on days with higher than 50% humidity. Or driving in traffic on the Kennedy downtown. God, I’m so old.

    As far as the music, though, Broken Social Scene was probably the best act of the day. Modest Mouse, headliners, have played in Chicago many times in the past 3-4 years and I know this show was not as good as any of those. I think something was wrong with the sound system. At least I hope there was, or perhaps I would rate that set even worse. All in all, I probably would have rather spent the $80 on Mexican food and margaritas. I heard that Sat and Sun were much better, I look forward to Rachel’s opinions. Next year, however, I’ll probably stay home in air-conditioned splendor and stream it online instead.

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Delivering a mind-blowing musical performance at an event is an art and planning it is a science. Stitely Entertainment has mastered both by planning and executing thousands of events.

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