West Fest is One Of The Best Fests

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 8, 2011 3:40PM

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Photo from a previous West Fest by Clayton Hauck
We were sitting around the table during the Chicagoist summer retreat last night (a.k.a. happy hour) and the question was posed: Remember when each neighborhood had a single street fest? It's come to the point where not only do neighborhoods throw multiple street festivals, but they're growing so dense you need never leave the three block radius around your home all summer and still continually stumble across one! For music lovers this has created a happy conundrum. In order to attract the crowds the food and the freedom of drinking overpriced brews in the street is no longer enough. Now we demand good music too! Luckily for us this street fest season has gifted us with a ridiculously rich number of line-ups and this weekend's bill at West Fest is no different.

While one could argue all day about what neighborhood West Fest "officially" resides in (Wicker Park? Ukrainian Village? WEST Ukrainian Village? West Town? River Really Far West?) it is indisputable that -- as far as free-but-please-donate-if-you-can street festivals go -- you want to be standing somewhere on Chicago Avenue between Damen and Wood this Saturday and Sunday.

Each day's musical line-up of West Fest is just top notch. On Saturday we're seeing an overarching theme of melt your face off rock and/or roll. All the bands on the bill (all listed below) are worth seeing but the two absolutely can't miss acts are Liturgy and Local H. Liturgy often gets called indie metal or thinking man's hard rock but don't let that dissuade you from submerging yourself in their brutal assault; there will be no ironic hipster posing here. And Local H deserves some sort of national recognition or presidential ceremony in the rose garden at this point for remaining one of the longest running, hardest rocking and most blisteringly tuneful bands still in existence. (Local H bonus option? the band is also playing tonight at The Empty Bottle, performing a set of nothing but deep cuts -- no hits -- so if you're a fan that's a show you do NOT want to miss!)

On Sunday we recommend getting there early for Purple Apple; three rocking barely into their teens gals and their babysitter. We know, that sounds so too pre-fab to be possibly true but they're the real deal and they right winning pop tunes so honest and unencumbered by the weight of wisdom they can't help but win you over. And since you'll already be at the festival early for them, settle in for the long haul because you're not going to want to miss the closing one-two punch of Syl Johnson's soul and King Khan's rust-bucket, ass-kicking, mind-bending garage.

But wait there's more!

The one thing we hate, hate, HATE about street fests (aside from strollers the size of Hummers) is people that bring their dogs. We are dog lovers and we're pretty sure no pooch's idea of a good time is dodging between a sea of oncoming legs with a 35% chance of getting stepped on. If you are one of those people then West Fest is providing you with an option to get your street fest on AND remain dog friendly; Pet Fest! The Pet Fest area will have room for Rover to run around, vendors for you to sample and (this is best of all) a Suds For Strays dog wash! For just ten bucks Fido can get all clean and shiny and you will have donated that dough to benefit Alive Rescue, a no-kill animal shelter.

Oh, still not enough? how about a DJ stage with the likes of the Juan Maclean, Derrick Carter and Jesse de la Pena.

We think we've made our point. See you at West Fest?

West Fest is July 9-10, Chicago Avenue between Damen and Wood, 12 p.m. - 10 p.m., $5 suggested donation, all ages

Main Stage: Presented by Empty Bottle Presents

Saturday:

Local H 8:30
Hollows 7:00
Bare Mutants 5:30
Liturgy 4:00
No Joy 2:30
The Socialists 1:00

Sunday:

King Khan featuring Gris Gris Sound 8:30
Syl Johnson featuring The Uptown 7:00
Those Darlins 5:30
A Lull 4:00
Team Band 2:30
Purple Apple 1:00

BP DJ Stage, at Chicago at Wood

Saturday:
Juan Maclean Dj Set 8:30
Drop The Lime 7:00
Dark Wave Disco 6:00
Zebo 5:00
Pickel & Dj Intel 4:00
Justin Reed 3:00

Sunday:
Derrick Carter 8:30
Diz 7:30
Jesse de la Pena 6:30
John Simmons 5:30
Shaka 23 4:30
Striz 3:30