Last week I put up a post about how crazy Chicago gets during the summer. Every weekend is filled with festivals that bring in huge bands from around the country and shine a light on great local bands. This weekend is no different, with Taste Of Randolph featuring headliners Divine Fits, The Joy Formidable, and Milo Greene. There’s a ten dollar suggested donation, and that’s a bargain for the amount of entertainment you’ll find on the three stages at this years event.
The music kicks off on Friday at 6pm with Great Divide, a jazzy quintet from Ann Arbor, Michigan that mixes pop, rock, and blues. Their latest album reminds me a lot of Jonny Lang’s Wander This World, with many of the songs having a strong gospel influence and lots of positive energy. Following them on the West Stage is Chicago’s own JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound. They were recently featured on AV Club Undercover series, where they took on Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” Headlining the night is Divine Fits, the supergroup combining Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner, and Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks. The band released their first album, A Thing Called Divine Fits in August of last year to great critical acclaim (if you’re not in a rocknroll mood, head over to the East Stage and get down with Escort’s funky jams.)
If you’re looking for a good time on Saturday, get yourself over to the East Stage for the 1-2 punch of Cole DeGenova and Ryan Powers and the Secret Weapons. Cole goes on at 1:30, and the lineup keeps the party going in between these two great sets with The Ivory’s and The Claudettes. After all that you should take a break and check out all the delicious food being sold by some of Chicago’s finest restaurants along Randolph street. Take your time, walk around and listen to some of the bands playing on the various stages at your leisure, but make sure you’re at the West stage by 9:00pm to see The Joy Formidable do their thing. They’ve played here three or four times the past couple years, but it’s always a great show and one you don’t want to miss.
There are really two headliners playing on the same stage on Sunday night. Milo Greene takes the top of the bill spot, deservedly so after playing a lot of opening gigs. I saw them open for Stars just a couple months ago, and they were really good. They’re a very tight band, and they’re very professional so you know every time out they’re giving it their best. Lord Huron plays just before that, and their album Lonesome Dreams came out to critical raves last summer. There are some other great artists playing this day, but don’t show up too early because you’ll want to stay for these two performances. The West stage is really where you want to be all day, with diverse artists like Bonzie delivering a hip-hop set, You Me & Apollo providing some folk, and Matrimony giving listeners a Swell Season-ish blast of bittersweet balladry.
If you’re still feeling frisky after the festival shuts down, they’re sponsoring some after parties at venues in the area. Featured bands include Greensky Bluegrass, Swamp Heat, and a combined ToR/Spring Awakening Fest after party with Savoy, Auto Body, and DJ Godfather at Bottom Lounge. For a full list of after parties, check out the festival website.