Just When You Thought The Summer Festival Season Was Over, They Pull You Back In

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 12, 2012 7:00PM

2012_09_lolla_crowd_shot.jpg
Will these two independent music festivals knock Lollapalooza off its perch? Photo by Jim Kopeny

Chicago is looking forward to an embarrassment of musical riches this weekend. Riot Fest brings bands from across a stunning number of musical genres and plops them alongside a carnival while across town The Hideout and The AV Club team up on another fine but more indie-centric / country-ish bill. We were going to help you choose between the two, but Hideout's little show is already sold out so let's just take a look at these events and what they might mean for Chicago.

2012_09_av_hideout.jpg The Hideout's Block party is a local institution at this point and in recent years they've teamed up with a number of partners to up their game. This is the second year the AV Club is doing an event at The Hideout, but it's the first they're aligning with the Block Party event. Acts like Wilco, Iron & Wine, Kelly Hogan and The Waco Brothers do an excellent job of merging the venue's history with The AV Club's sensibilities, but the really exciting stuff is slightly more unexpected. Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker makes her Chicago debut with her new band and soul singer Lee Fields is sure to get many a pair of pants and/or skirts dropping. Redmoon Theatre will also be on hand, probably being their delightfully weird selves and creating crowd disruptions while Guitarkestra creates its symphony of sound to open the weekend. Last year's Block Party was marred by poor organization when it came to food and beverage vendors, but last year's AV Club event there went off without a hitch in that area, so hopefully their influence carries over into that portion of the concert experience as well.

So that's the more known half of this weekend's musical equation. What about the "newcomer?"

2012_09_riot_fest_square_logo_small.jpg Riot Fest enters largely unfamiliar territory as they move their previously multi-venue festival into the great outdoors and up the ante by adding in a literal amusement park around the entertainment. While the festival began as a celebration of all things punk rock, in recent years they've broadened their booking to include more mainstream acts like last year's headliner, Weezer. This year they blow the doors wide open and adopt the most adventurous booking style we've seen from any festival in a long time. While there's still certainly plenty of groups left on the bill to pogo to, inclusions of folks like Elvis Costello, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Cursive and Built To Spill would have been unheard of in the past. The biggest question facing Riot Fest, though, is: can they pull it off?

We have nothing to compare this year's event to, and this whole enterprise is a pretty daunting task. However, last week's Brooklyn event seemed to have gone well, until it was closed down due to inclement weather. Actually, given the fact Brooklyn's Riot Fest handled its evacuation better than Lollapalooza did theirs this year shows us that organizers might just be up to the task of pulling this whole thing off.

Either way you look at it, our city's pretty lucky to get this one-two punch to help see the summer out on a high note. The only problem we faced at all was deciding which one to go see!