I assume you’ve gone to most of those shows and fests I told you about last time. If you didn’t then I feel a little bit bad for you. And if you missed Sister Michelle’s singing debut with The Pigs??? Well, I feel a lot bad for you because you, my friend, missed one of the best damn things I have ever seen – and I’ve seen Prince and Chumbawamba. She absolutely destroyed Brixie’s and I still can’t find part of my face that flew off when she sang “Me & Bobby McGee.” Guns N’ Roses was also well worth it – despite Axl’s bloated head (Midsis still has an insane crush on him no matter what it seems). Well, let’s forget the past, because as you know – Lollapalooza is here. All four days of it, and yes my 36yr old self dry heaves just thinking about a 4th day. But let’s get our minds right and discuss in case you are thinking about going or already have your overpriced tickets in hand. And then I will go over what’s left for the rest of the summer as far as music in Chicago goes – there’s still quite a lot. So pay attention. Why? Cause music makes you feel alive and I know right about now you are feeling a little dead inside. So here you go…..summer in music part deux…..
Photo: Clayton Hauck
Lollapalooza July 28 – 31 @ Grant Park
You’ll always hear people who love to criticize Lolla for being too crowded or the lineup not living up to people’s expectations on paper. The reality is that there are always good things to see and ways to work around the crowd. First of all, the good stuff is mostly in that juicy middle part of the lineup, not always the major headliners. So I’m not here to tell you about Red Hot Chilli Peppers – you already know if you like them or not and if you want to see Radiohead live or if you’d rather go to the dentist. I’d rather point you to some good stuff to see live that you may or may not have heard of. Here’s a daily breakdown and some very generalized descriptions of performers that may or may not make sense….
So, Thursday your reason to go early would be Bob Moses at at 2:50pm (Canadian electronic duo that smoothly delivers a mix of pop and house rhythms). From there you have Yeasayer (always good despite so-so recent album), Bastille (if you like your music with a side of cheese), Kurt Vile (if you like good musicians and SiriusXMU), The Arcs (if you love Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys). Then you have to make a choice between the smoky sultry Lana Del Ray or hip hop artist/producer J. Cole (who, by the way, was the first rapper in 25 years to have a platinum album 2014 Forest Hills Drive without any guest appearances). Don’t forget about Chicago’s own Flosstradamus at Perry’s if you’d rather just lose your mind.
Friday your reason to get moving would be Day Wave at 12:45pm (saw them last night at Concord and they put on a good show) and/or Saint Motel at 1:30pm. Then you would have time to wander and eventually find yourself with solid choices like Foals (English indie rockers) and Frightened Rabbit (Scottish indie rockers) – there’s a joke there somewhere. A lot will be expected from M83 and Future playing on opposite ends of the fest, and both will likely be awesome. But if you’re in the mood for exploring other great acts you have Wolf Alice (listen to “Mona Lisa Smiling” and then the whole album) and probably one of the best live shows you’ll see at the fest in Miike Snow – a band from Sweden whose eclectic sound is sometimes hard to define as it’s electronic, poppy and even trippy all at once and will for sure be an energetic crowd pleaser. Major Lazer has much improved from the unfocused and annoyingly noisy act I saw at Pitchfork years ago and were one of the better things I saw at Coachella. Don’t miss it, unless you’re a Radiohead fan like myself. And please find time to pass through Perry’s and lose your damn mind again.
It’s Saturday man – pick yourself off the floor, read some inspirational YOLO quotes or some shit cause you have a busy day ahead of you. Two reasons to go early would be Chairlift at 1:30pm or Baio at 1:50pm. After that you would be silly to miss the old school one-two punch of Nathaniel Rateliffe & The Night Sweats followed by the soulful singer/songwriter Leon Bridges, but you do have competing acts across the way in Big Grams (Big Boi + Phantogram) and MUTEMATH (high energy alternative rockers). Save yourself the pressure of trying to battle the crowds back and forth and just stick with a decision and go with it. After that you have a feel good cluster of acts in Houndmouth (if you like Lumineers), Two Door Cinema Club (if you’re like my friend Zeff and you love Two Door Cinema Club), and St. Lucia (my friend Jay would describe the music as whimsical). On the other side of town you can get nostalgic with Jane’s Addiction and/or get your face melted a little bit with the young folks seeing Big Gigantic at Perry’s. You can also follow the younger folks to Grimes although she appeals to a wider audience I think and believe me when I say that this little German girl will electronically beat the hell out of you and everyone standing around you for her full set. Then guess what? More tough decisions as 8:30pm offers three very different options. You either care about Red Hot Chili Peppers or you don’t and I guess it depends if you have seen them before. Or – check their previous setlists and see if they are playing the stuff you want to hear. We saw Disclosure at Coachella and they have really come a long way – the crowd will be very into it and I see a lot of people choosing this route instead. Hardwell is a veteran DJ who is used to this big-time slot – so if you’re used to getting your body tractor beamed to Perry’s then I’m sure you’ll wind up here at the end of the night. Don’t forget about Chicago rapper Vic Mensa who will surely take over the tucked in Pepsi stage at 9pm. Ok – now try and pull an early exit to beat the crowd and go eat something awesomely terrible for you.
Sunday – you’re surely sitting on the toilet cursing this new four day layout. What do you do? Do you really care about music or life at this point? You look at the schedule…..”f*&%ing Third Eye Blind???” you whisper to your shattered self. But come on – I wish you would step back off that ledge my friend. Get up and do something for yourself – eat a greasy breakfast followed by a pink bismuth desert, do a yoga session with Midsis at Yoga Six followed by some expensive organic smoothie with all kinds of green shit in it, go walk outside and punch yourself in the face. Do something dammit cause it will be a good day. Classixx (LA dance duo) would be your reason to go early at 1:45pm. Then comes FIDLAR (this garage punk band just did a good cover of Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”) and you guessed it – Third Eye Blind (my friend Kevin’s favorite band). Well if you heard them at the RNC then I think you would see that these 90’s rockers who soundtracked part of our cheesy lives still have some fight in them – give them a chance. One of the best indie rock songs this year belongs to Local Natives (“Past Lives”) and I know they will put on a good show as they have more where that came from. Across the way though you have the young rising electropop star Halsey if that intrigues you more. Then comes festival veteran alternative rock band Silversun Pickups followed by the young sisterly pop trio HAIM (hey – sister projects come in many forms and mediums I guess). The return of English indie rock band Bloc Party (my friend Anjay was definitely the first person on the planet to hear of them) is always exciting and so will be their high-powered set, unless you would rather see Long Beach rapper Vince Staples who’s been making a name for himself. By the last slate of shows the 30 year olds who still want to be somewhat cool (my friend named me) will surely be at one end for LCD Soundsystem’s return (they made their comeback a little too soon if you also ask my friend me). But the young and energetic souls will be at Ellie Goulding, who really surprised me at Lolla a couple years back (not ashamed to say it). Zhu at Perry’s will be good but a little more chill than usual Dj’s there (probably a good thing) and Die Antwoord – well I am not into them (or the movie Chappie) but they are infamous, crazy South Africans, so if you’re into getting freaky then by all means. Leave as a shell of your formal self, but knowing it was all worth it.
Monday: go to an IV clinic
Tickets Sold Out, but plenty available on the interwebs and probably outside the fest.
Single-Day face value is $120 (GA). Four-Day face is $335 (GA). VIP – only if you really need it or get some crazy deal way less than face value should you even bother.
Reggae Fest Saturday, August 13th @ Addams/Medill Park
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I must be an expert on all things reggae just cause I had dreadlocks in college. But honestly I just did it for the chicks. I don’t know anything about reggae except that Bob Marley is always awesome and can be played at almost anytime/anywhere. This one day fest is put on by the Wicker Park spot Subterranean and will feature all genres, including ska, reggaeton, roots reggae, and world music. The site describes it as such: “One Day, One Love – is a family-friendly event, with fun entertainment being planned for all ages including local non-profits providing arts and crafts activities.” Doesn’t sound like a bad thing does it? $37.50 (GA).
Chicago Jazz Fest September 1 – 4 @ Millenium Park
If you’re here in the city and not at your fancy lake house or your friend’s crappy lake house, then you should really set aside some time for the Jazz Fest. Come on – jazz is cool. The Knife loves jazz – what does that tell you? Jazz, like most things, comes in many forms and this fest does their best to showcase as many as possible. Thursday will offer some daytime acts and other entertainment at the Chicago Cultural Center while Obert Davis’ Soul Migration kicks things off that evening at The Pritzker Pavilion. Highlights on Friday include Magic Carpet, Pharez Whitted Quintet, and headliner Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra conducted by Carla Bley. Saturday the Harris Rooftop Theatre will feature sets by high school jazz up-and-comers while other acts like Alyssa Allgood Quintet, JD Allen Trio, and Anat Cohen Quartet round out the day. Headlining Saturday is The Bad Plus who will perform Ornette Coleman’s SCIENCE FICTION with Tim Berne, Ron Miles & Sam Newsome. No idea what that is but I love all things Science Fiction almost as much June Massarella does, so I am intrigued. Reason enough to show up early on Sunday will be Joel Ross’ Good Vibes, followed by George Fludas Quartet, Foster Meets Brooks Big Band, and many other acts that will be capped off by a finale dedicated to Cuban percussionist and the most recorded conga drummer in the history of jazz – Candido Camero. They will be celebrating his 95th birthday with a performance featuring M.F. Production’s Latin Jazz All Stars (way too many to name here). Sounds like a damn good time in honor of ol’ Candido. All for the low price of absolute zero (Free Admission).
North Coast Music Festival September 2 – 4 @ Union Park (1501 W. Randolph St)
Oh North Coast – every summer you’re always one last temptation to indulge in outdoor electronica for the summer and get your last does of all things neon (see above). Last year we went just on Sunday for Chemical Brothers and it was incredibly worth it. Let’s see who we got this year and if we can’t tempt us again. Friday looks pretty good as I really like Sleigh Bells – the Brooklyn duo who serve up a hard mix of rock and electronic. Then you have Galantis (my friend J-Bu has listened to “Peanut Butter and Jelly” at least 30 times a day for the last year if that tells you anything) and feel-good indie band Grouplove (my friend Bob who loves good times just got a Grouplove tattoo on his lower back). Headlining will be ODESZA – electronic music duo from Seattle. Future Rock looks to be an early highlight on Saturday – it sounds kind of how you think it would (Daft Punk-ish in a good way I think). Some will surely be drawn to LA hip hop and R&B artist Ty Dolla $ign who should offer some $uper $mooth beats (can you tell I don’t know how to de$cribe rap?) And then some others will float towards the experimental / psychadelic acid trip rock duo that came out of nowhere that no one really asked for known as The Claypool Lennon Delirium (a sure to be strange joining of Les Claypool of Primus and Sean Lennon). Finally, you will be able to thank Bassnectar for destroying your nice face, ears, and brain with his bass-heavy and hard-hitting set. Sunday brings us someone called The Polish Ambassador, which is confusing cause I thought my friend Tommy who lives down the street was known as The Polish Ambassador. Hmm. Action Bronson is on the slate and I would love to see this hefty rapper in action – although I’m not sure the songs I like of his are actually considered rap (check out his album Mr. Wonderful, namely “City Boy Blues”). Matt & Kim are corny as hell, but they do put on a good show and Kim is one of the most intense and happiest drummers in the business. I’ve never been an Umphrey’s Mcgee guy but clearly they have a following so should offer a good contrast to other headlining act Zedd. Who is Zedd? Is he the same as Zeds Dead? Is he somehow friends with my previously mentioned friend Zeff? I don’t know if I have seen him but this Russian-German DJ has become a pretty big deal and puts on a good show from what I hear. (For the record: Zeds Dead is a different electronic duo if you care). And if you care to attend, then ticks are available still. $55 for Single-Day (GA) and $90 for VIP. 3-Day passes (GA) are $159 and #-Day VIP’s are $279. Dick-over fees will be added to all online tickets of course.
Photo: Derek Georgevich
Riot Fest September 16 – 18 @ Douglas Park (1401 S Sacramento Dr)
In a summer seemingly full of electronica Riot Fest has become a welcomed rock-focused finale to the music fest season. Compared to the other fests, the vibe is different, the layout is different, the people are definitely different but it’s all in the best way possible – a great mix of carnival and rock outcasts. Friday brings a healthy dose of two weirdly awesome live acts in The Flaming Lips (though Wayne talks too damn much) and Ween (I am still strangely obsessed with “The Mollusk”). Son Julian Marley will play Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Exodus in entirety which could be pretty cool as not sure how often you would get to see that. Sprinkled in there you have recognizable names in Jimmy Eat World, The Meat Puppets and of course….the Midsis’s ultimate favorite, Gwar, who always show up every year for better or worse. I must admit – it scares me that she loves them so much. Saturday brings us English legendary musician Morrissey. He’s sometimes oddly reclusive yet outspoken and has been highly influential, but also difficult to actually see live. So since I’ve never seen him and in hopes he does play some hits from his former band The Smith’s I will do everything I can to be there. Since I’m already there I would be sure to check out Social Distortion, Fitz & The Tantrums, The Hives, Bob Mould, and White Lung. “Ok, so do you know who the original Misfits are? I personally do not – for some reason being a fan of music I just knew of a few songs of The Misfits and the rest still has escaped me maybe because of my age or I’m a loser or I just don’t know shit. But I guess it’s a big deal for them to reunite on Sunday as one of those guys is Glenn Danzig (yes that crazy “Mother!” Danzig). Should be entertaining. Legendary madman Rob Zombie will also be in attendance and playing his entire album Astro-Creep 2000 – that sounds a little more entertaining to me. The rest of the day rounds out with notable acts like Sleater-Kinney, Deftones, Bad Religion, Dee Snider, and Juliet Lewis & The Licks. No matter what happens or what the music is I know it will be a good time and no matter what I will definitely eat a giant turkey leg to the Midsis’s absolute disgust. The price for any or all of this Riot Fest business?? Well it’s a little complicated but not as over-priced as Lolla. Single Day Tickets are now at $85 (GA) and VIP are at $150. They are doing two day options for the first time which is interesting: $150 (GA) and it’s not clear whether there is a VIP option for two days. 3-Day passes are $210 (GA) and $330 for VIP. There is also a deluxe VIP option which includes complimentary open bar but also strangely includes access to private miniature golf course, fortune tellers, circus performances, massage stations, and plush seating. All for $700. Seems very very anti-Riot Fest to me, but if you like to be pampered (like my friend Mitch) then you will enjoy this immensely.
Other Shows To Consider:
Demi Lovato & Nick Jonas Aug 2 @ Allstate Arena in Rosemont — I won’t be there, but my sister Candice might.
Wye Oak Aug 3 @ Thalia Hall — have never seen them but I like their sound and excuse to go to Pilsen is a good thing.
Mbongwana Star Aug 11 @ Pritzker Pavilion — a mix of rumba, rock and electronica that’s sure to be a highly-energetic free show. Listen to them and then go.
Pearl Jam Aug 20 & 22 @ Wrigley Field — I haven’t seen them in almost 10 years so I will try to be there to see Eddie in one of his favorite places.
Wilco Aug 21 @ Pritzker Pavilion — if you’re a fan then you will surely want to see them play here.
Mad Decent Block Party Aug 21 @ FirstMerit Bank Pavilion — Tiesto, Kaskade, Diplo, and Zeds Dead (hey!) and many many more.
Billy Joel Aug 26 @ Wrigley Field — do something nice for your parents will you?
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band Aug 28 @ United Center — I would go to this. Never seen The Boss.
AAHH!! Fest Sep 24 & 25 @ Union Park — Common’s hip-hop showcase features local artists (lineup not yet available).
Sigur Ros Sep 30 @ Chicago Theatre — if you like them at all, then this would really be an experience.
Well that’s it. I’ve procrastinated this blog long enough and of course it’s going out last minute and the sisters will surely give me a hollering. But I hope this helps you all in your musical journey. I am pretty excited for this next 2 months and there is definitely enough to go around in the music world to satisfy all you weirdos of all shapes and sizes out there. So enjoy and keep an eye out for The Midsis and I and possibly a large sign of our cat’s face (despite popular festival belief this does not mean that we are looking to sell you Ketamine). But we will sell free hugs, high fives, or that awkward thing that happens when one dude goes for the fist pump and one goes for the old-fashioned shake. Peace and Love, Peace and Love. Baba Booey.