The City is Our Venue: DePaul’s guide to the annual Chicago festival season

Crowds gather at Grant Park for the 27th edition of Chicago’s Lollapalooza (Photo: Adam Webb, Aug. 5, 2018).

DePaul’s biggest draw to prospective students is the ability for them to immediately become engulfed within the vibrant community of Chicago. A city known for many things, its music scene is probably the most notable. Between the seemingly endless shows and venues and live music nights at bars, Chicago is a place for music fans and local artists alike to thrive. Beyond these smaller shows, however, lies one of the biggest festival seasons in America. Every summer, Chicago residents have the ability to attend Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Riot Fest, Spring Awakening, and North Coast. Each sporting their niche genres and identities, students at DePaul are gifted with an exceptional opportunity to experience some of the best live music the world has to offer.

DePaul students Samantha Hollis and Julianna Dyer enjoy Deadmau5’s set at Spring Awakening in Addams/Medill Park (Photo: Adam Webb, June 8, 2018).

The season kicked off this year with Spring Awakening on June 8th in Addams/Medill Park on Chicago’s West side. The house music festival has been blasting beats since 2012 and provides an exciting weekend of sensory overload. Headliners this year included Steve Aoki and Deadmau5. Quinn Sandelski is a recent DePaul graduate and has attended the festival for the last three years. “It’s definitely my favorite of the bunch. Everyone there is full of good vibes and that permeates the whole experience,” said Sandelski. “I don’t plan on stopping the tradition any time soon.”

Students interested in attending the festival next year can take the Red line down to Roosevelt and then hop on the number 12 bus to Roosevelt and Loomis.

Concertgoers take a break from the music to enjoy one the rides at Spring Awakening (Photo: Adam Webb, June 8, 2018).

Pitchfork and North Coast share the location of Union Park for their respective festivals, but provide very different experiences for their attendees. Pitchfork, which has been around since 2006, showcases artists from multiple genres but really has its roots in the alternative rock scene. North Coast, on the other hand, is full of exclusively electronic dance music.

Jenny Fisher attended both festivals this year and found each enjoyable for different reasons. “It’s crazy how the same location can seem so different depending on what is going on,” Fisher said. “North Coast definitely has that ‘festival’ feel which is a lot of fun, but Pitchfork is just like a whole weekend of rock shows with everyone there for the music.”

Just north of Addams/Medill, the venue can be reached by once again starting south on the Red line, taking it to Lake and then transferring to the Green line going west to the Ashland stop.

Father John Misty performs on Sunday evening at Riot Fest (Photo: Adam Webb, Sep. 16, 2018).

Another Chicago staple is Riot Fest, having been around since 2005, it has seen multiple different locations serve as its home, but for the last few years, following a dispute with the community around Humboldt Park, the punk festival has been hosted in Douglas Park. The weekend long rock-fest provides an experience similar to that of Pitchfork. With minimal focus on the big lights, vibrant colors, and ‘good vibes’ mentality, Riot Fest is a place for the music and the music alone. While it does feature its traditional carnival themed rides and sideshows, the overwhelming feel from the crowd is that people came to see their favorite artists rather than be entertained by an overall experience.

Taking the Brown line to Washington/Wells and then the Pink line to Califronia will drop concertgoers off a stone’s throw away from the festival.

While all of the festivals have been growing in size and scope in recent years, none are more well known and anticipated on a national level than Lollapalooza. One of the biggest festivals in the world, Lolla has moved away from the strictly rock lineups of its early years and now provides an experience that can excite eclectic tastes from around the globe. Between the music, the art, the food, and the atmosphere, Lolla is a weekend that serves has an inevitable highlight for many Chicagoans’ summers.

Fans throw balloons into the air during Matt and Kim’s Riot Fest set (Photo: Adam Webb, Sep. 14, 2018).

It has received criticism in recent years for the younger audiences and the rampant drug and alcohol use contributing to an environment that is less about music and more about a quality Instagram post. Even with this, however, Ryan McQueeney has found a silver lining. “Everything evolves and grows and we need to find the beauty in that. Yes, at times, it can be frustrating to feel like the festival has changed from what we once loved, but we keep coming back because deep down we know that we do still love it,” said McQueeney, who has attended the festival six times in his life. “The music is still amazing. The experience is still amazing. If kids in flower crowns and henna tattoos also think it’s amazing, then it just shows how connected the human experience is.”

Finding its home in Grant Park, a simple ride on the Red line to the Roosevelt station will put you in walking distance from the park.

DePaul Student Continues History of Live Music in Chicago Bar Scene

IMG_2565 (1)
Bridger Fedor, a junior at DePaul, performs at Irish Eyes last Thursday night. (Photo: Adam Webb, Oct. 4, 2018.) 

In 2017, now-alumuni of DePaul University, Mike Doherty and Emily Palmeri began performing weekly at Irish Eyes, a local Irish pub, so give students an alternative option to the plethora of clubs and busy bars inhabiting Chicago. Bridger Fedor began playing as a featured guest, and now, with his predecessors having graduated, he continues the tradition for a new school year. Nestled on Lincoln Avenue between Lill and Altgeld, Irish Eyes provides a relaxed atmosphere perfectly fitting to Fedor’s casual demeanor.

IMG_2562 (1)
Fedor practices in his apartment leading up to the show. Rather than going through songs he plans to perform, he plays seemingly random chords and notes to get his fingers ready for the night. (Photo: Adam Webb, Oct. 4, 2018).
IMG_2561 (1)
Just an hour before playing music for dozens of his peers, Fedor is calm as he sips on wine and pets his cat, Bali. (Photo: Adam Webb, Oct. 4, 2018.)
IMG_2564 (1)
Juniors Jamie Semel (left) and Mia Randazzo (right) sing along to “Brown Eyed Girl,” originally performed by Van Morrison on Thursday evening. (Photo: Adam Webb, Oct. 4, 2018.) 
IMG_2569 (1)
Fedor laughs while holding a brassiere that was thrown at him during his show. (Photo: Adam Webb, Oct. 4, 2018).


The Chicago album: Chance and Kanye’s Second City collaboration

Kanye West and Chance the Rapper (Photo: Paul Natkin 2018.)

Kanye West announced last week that he and Chance the Rapper are working on an album together which will be titled “Good Ass Job.” The two Chicago natives have worked together in the past, but the idea of a whole album together is exciting music fans everywhere.

While Chance’s popularity has exploded in the past two years, his fame is even more intense within the city. He has made a point to remain dedicated to supporting his hometown through multiple organizations and events, but especially his charity, Social Works that benefits that Chicago Public Schooling system. Chance and Chicago are synonymous.

West has shown less of an affinity for the city since his emergence as a pop culture icon in the last decade. He has focused is attention on broad criticism rather than direct involvement, but his recent decision to move back home to Chicago may symbolize the turning of a new leaf.

Chance and Kanye are known for starkly different personas. Chance maintains his image as the humble hometown kid who loves God, the children, and his city. Kanye loves Kanye. He draws constant comparisons between Jesus Christ and himself and never attempts to be perceived as humble.

The album has the potential to not only be wildly successful, but the amount of time the two must spend together to create could allow for the possibility of character changes on both sides. West is no longer a Chicago rapper and Chance is not yet a household name. Are either what the two truly desire, and is the grass just always greener?

Father John Misty’s controversial take on the Indie Rock genre

Recent years have seen an influx of political involvement by non-political public figures. Using their increased platform to spread messages they deem important has led to plenty of backlash from those with conflicting views. Within the music industry, artists have utilized social media, interviews, and on stage performances to speak to the masses. Few, however, have taken their actual music to a political level. Josh Tillman, the former Fleet Foxes drummer and current solo act known as Father John Misty, challenges this norm with his signature style of critically sarcastic lyricism.

Father John Misty performs on the Roots Stage at Riot Fest last Sunday. (Photo: Adam Webb, Sep. 16, 2018).

Tillman’s casual inclusion of controversial lyrics in his melodic indie ballads can come as a shock to causal listeners. He utilizes a bluntness that is only alive in vulgar raps nowadays. This was in full effect during his recent performance at Douglas Park’s annual Riot Fest when he stopped halfway through his nuanced critique of modern society in “Pure Comedy” to tell the crowd “Oh, it gets worse.”

This uncommon boldness can be viewed as exceptionally courageous in a world of music plagued by palatability. Tillman doesn’t view it this way. He has stated that he finds joy in the negative press his music receives. The backlash is precisely why his ambiguously frank songs are necessary to counter the careful political correctness of modern art.

The Kanye of Indie

“Total Entertainment Forever,” opens with Misty uttering the line “Bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift.” This drew plenty of comparisons to Kanye West’s infamous line in “Famous” about his potential to still have sex with Swift. The understandable outrage was received on a much smaller scale to West’s due to the two artists significant difference in audience reach, but still found its way into the reporting of music giants like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone.

This addition of vulgarity, as well as the casual way he discusses sensitive subjects like Satanism and suicide, is not new in indie music, but usually comes from far less recognizable artists within the genre. The ability for Tillman to present them in such a way that the possible intentions of irony, criticism, or flat out sarcasm are so difficult to navigate is impressive to say the least.

A Rare Talent

His effortless humor and suave demeanor have allowed the artist to maintain a cult following. His most recent album, “God’s Favorite Customer” has been critically acclaimed and it’s simply the same genius he has been delivering his fans for years. How will the rest of this polarizing figure’s career pan out? Not even Misty cares to know. As he said to Rolling Stone last year, “I think certainty is completely grotesque.”