Getting used to festival season takes some time. When I covered SxSw a couple years ago, it was chaotic but it was an organized chaos. It’s a little more hectic around here. I found out ten days ago that I could get in for Spring Awakening at Soldier Field, which started yesterday. Thursday at 10pm I found out I could cover Taste Of Randolph, which started less than 24 hours later. So the decision on how to spend my Friday night was pretty much made for me-the choice between a bus ride that lasts 40 minutes or walking four blocks from my work to Taste Of Randolph was not difficult.
I had never been to this neighborhood festival, but from the crowd I’d say its one of the most popular summer fests in the city. The crowd is so dense that many parts are difficult to navigate through. It took me twenty minutes to get from the east entrance where The Heard was finishing up their set, to the West stage where Divine Fits were due to headline. The slow walk was made bearable by the delicious aromas coming from every direction. I was starving but decided to wait on the food until after the show to ensure a good spot for picture taking. Surprisingly I got right up front, stage left.
After about half an hour of set up and sound checking, the super group made up of Spoon’s Britt Daniel, Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade, and drummer Sam Brown from New Bomb Turks-with Alex Fischel helping out on keys and bass-hit the stage. I’d heard good things about them, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect as this was my first time seeing them live. I was a bit concerned that my falling out of love with Spoon following their last album would hinder my enjoyment of Daniels’ performance, but it did not.
I was really impressed with the energy Divine Fits plays with. They blasted through most of their debut album A Thing Called Divine Fits, with Daniel and Boeckner switching between bass and lead guitar almost every other song. They also played two great covers: “You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and “Lost” by Frank Ocean.
Two things really stuck out to me last night: the first was how awesome Boeckner is as a frontman. His voice is fantastic and he seems to connect with audiences really well. I think his qualities also help Britt Daniel, because the second thing I noticed is how much he reminds me of Nels Cline. Cline is a better guitarist, in my opinion, but the way they carry themselves and certain things that they do are very similar.
The crowds at both ends of the festival were pretty huge, but the people were very courteous and everyone seemed to be having a good time-a few chatty Cathy’s, but that’s to be expected at an outdoor concert. 3/4ths of the way through the concert I made my way a bit further back to get some wider shots and the sound system was crystal clear, so no need to worry about getting right up front if you’re getting in late to see The Joy Formidable or Milo Greene over the next couple days.
On my way back I had a hard time deciding what I wanted for dinner. I saw funnel cakes and shish-ka-bobs that looked absolutely to die for. There were burgers and fried eggplant sandwiches and barbecue….Randolph street is really a foodies dream. I ended up getting steak tacos from a place called De Cero, and it was literally a top 3 all-time taco for me. Steak, cilantro & onion, and a smoky chipotle sauce brought enough spice that it heats up your mouth, but not so much it hurts. If you’re wondering what to eat, I’d definitely hit that up.
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