Archive for July, 2011

#10 – Chicago’s Best Street Fest: West Fest


2011
07.13
@djjohnsimmons

@djjohnsimmons

If you’ve ever been to Chicago in the summertime, you know our streets and calendars get stacked with an endless array of neighborhood street fests that combine local shopping, food and of course, live music. You’ll find West Fest in the second week of July between Wood and Damen on Chicago Avenue. Like most street fests, you’ll have to pay your $5 suggested donation that benefits the West Town Chamber of Commerce and roll through past the barricades to get your hand marked.

Once inside, you’re free to roam to the rock stage on one end or the DJ staged on the other. In between, you’ll find food vendors, boutiques, and even a few bar patios on the way east. An endless stream of people with dogs, kids, and friends inevitably means you will run into people (whether you want to or not). Most years I try to check out both stages and some of the vendors but this year I got to West Fest and the music was slammin’ so I just had to rush past all the vendors and check out @djjohnsimmons at the turntables.

I first heard John “Break It Down” Simmons at a Halloween party a few years back. I was sleepy and ready to go home but at about 3am, I heard the music kick it up three notches and had to get my dance on. I looked over and saw the wizard at work spinning the hot tracks and keeping people on their feet. The hardest working man in Chicago, you’ll find him spinning his craft all over the city on any given night.

West Fest

@SmallbarDst at West Fest

West Fest transcends your local neighborhood street fest, it is an experience and it is the city’s best street festival of the year. Why is West best so spectacular? Just like going to a great party, you know you’ll run into friends you hadn’t planned on seeing. Every year I run into friends I haven’t seen in ages and this year was no different. Another trend I’ve noticed the past few years at West Fest is that if my friends get too tired and all go home, all I have to do is walk twenty feet and I’ll run into another friend I didn’t expect to see! That’s when you know you and everybody else is in the right place and the right time.

@blucu hard at work

@blucu hard at work

There’s a simple rule with West Fest – when the sun goes down the crowds roll in and everyone is dancing! Some friends of mine booked early (ahem ahem @haterface @allaboutkelli @cassidycody @funnybunnytoes) and missed out on the best part of West Fest. As the crowds start gathering up, you best lock yourself a spot to either sit back and relax or get up and get your dance on. Luckily, I ran into some old friends and had a seat on the patio of Tecalitan.

West Fest Crowd

West Fest Crowd

With Chicago legend Derrick Carter bringing the people off the curb and onto the street to dance, I had to get off of the patio and make my way to the front. Using light taps to get my way through, I found the quickest path curbside wading through an endless sea of people and empty bottles of water. Pushing through, eventually I made it all the way to the front speaker at full blast. Knowing full well the price of getting to the front was going to be eating some decibels, I slicked my way across and got all the way to the front to see and hear one of Chicago’s world class DJ’s giving it all to the hometown faithful. Nothing says Chicago more than house music outdoors at the best street fest all year. Take it from @blucu:

Derrick Carter

Derrick Carter

#68 – Check out a Cubs Rooftop


2011
07.05
Down the Line Rooftop

Down the Line Rooftop

Thanks to a recent coupon promotion, I was able to snag some cheap rooftop seats and get a chance to see what all the hubbub was all about. I was a bit worried since I got to the gate and there was a line that was stretching too far even though it was an hour before the game. Someone let me know that I was in the line for Skybox on Sheffield and was relieved when I found myself in a much shorter line and quickly up the steps to the rooftop.

Some rooftops, if you don’t get there in time, chances are you’ll be stuck standing all game or watching the game on TV from the second floor. Luckily, I got in line early enough to skip losing out on the game of musical chairs. Seating options included bleacher style risers, a few couches, and some metal patio setup but they were all taken save the risers.

Rooftop Seats

Rooftop Seats

The risers weren’t bad considering the heat and the food and drink flowed even before the game started. The lines for food were longer than the line for drinks which didn’t make much sense, but the lines moved along fairly quickly. Food selections included burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, brats, chicken sandwiches and chips. The burgers were grilled by the dozen without much attention as they were all frozen and there was plenty of food to load up on before the game began. Beverages included Anheuser-Busch products, Miller offerings, Corona, Heinken, and wines. There was apparently dessert on the second floor but I was too busy hanging out on the top where the real fun was.

Rooftop Seats

Rooftop Seats

Sitting in Wrigley, it would always seem that the view from the rooftops would kind of suck given the distance and extra street everything was behind. Surprisingly, I found the view quite acceptable because even though everything was so much farther away, the height of the seats made up for the distance, you could still see almost everything going on in the stadium.

Second Floor Window

Second Floor Window

All in all not a bad value proposition and a way better financial deal than one you’d get from the stadium across the street depending on how much you ate or drank. With rooftop seating offering an acceptable vantage point, it made the unlimited food and drink more of a bonus than the main draw, however I can easily see why other people might have it the other way around.