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West Fest Now Has The Best Street Fest Lineup Of 2017

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 14, 2017 7:02PM

Photo courtesy West Fest

As the number of street fests has grown in Chicago, the competition to grab bands and build quality bills has also increased. Long gone are the days Hairbangers Ball and Mike And Joe ruled the land. Once bands like Spoon started appearing at something like The Taste Of Randolph in 2003 it was suddenly O.K. to pull talent from the underground. Now, 15 years later we've hit the point where street fests are competing with legit major music festivals for some of the talent!

The upside is that the quality of headliners has increased, but the downside is that it's been more and more difficult to create a solid street fest undercard. It is this that separates the good from the great; and it is this that has us thinking that West Fest has pulled to front of the pack of this year's "who's got the most solid bill for a street fest" competition.

Organizers announced the final lineup today, and it's one of the few times that no matter which stage you are in front of at what time of day, you're going to hear some good music.

You've got your heavy hitters like Chicago rockers Local H, the exotic punk disco-funk of ESG, and '90s-style indie guitar revivalists Speedy Ortiz topping the bill. But you've also got an amazing acts like the skewed high energy-rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars and the psychedelic mind-twisters Woods playing in the middle of the afternoon; two acts that could easily also headline.

Looking for Stax style soul? Durand Jones & The Indications has you covered. Want to get your freak on and dance in your underwear. Check out Har Mar Superstar's set. Just looking for some straightforward fuzzed out power-pop? Chicago trio Post Animal will be happy to oblige. Speaking of Chicago, do you want to lose you mind to some intense live dance music driven by polyrhythmic beats that threaten to unravel the very fact of the universe? Make sure you get there early on Friday to see HUJO because, again, they'll deliver.

And of course you'd be nuts to miss the set from The School Of Rock Kids, because I have never seen them not slay.

Do you prefer getting down at the club? Then check out the DJ stage featuring such dependable dance party deliverers including Derrick Carter, DJ Heather, Mark Farina and Phantom 45.

And there are fests within the fests! One for dogs (they'll have more fun in their own zone than dodging dancers' legs) and one for kids. Organizers tell us the Kid Fest will actually include "train rides, bouncy houses, bean bag toss, ring toss, balloon darts, football toss, bottle toss, photo booth and an obstacle course." I mean, that's just bonkers. Who doesn't love a bouncy house?!

There you have it. We're not declaring West Fest the winner yet, but they are pretty far ahead of the pack.

West Fest is July 7 to 9 and is located on Chicago Avenue, between Damen and Wood streets. A $5 donation is requested at the gate.