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What You Missed: Stone Arch Festival of the Arts

23 Jun

I have this really distinct memory from my childhood that is a touchstone for how I think about summertime in the States. I must have been 7 and my family was on a long layover at O’Hare International so we went into Chicago for the day and I remember riding the El into The Loop and getting off on the platform- there was a guy there with a keyboard and little amp, playing some funky keys and singing with a hat out. This wasn’t strange, I had seen musicians in Metro tunnels before, but I remember him really enjoying himself, even if it was hot, the sweat stuck. Turning the corner after coming down the staircase, there was a rock band, shredding up some power ballads in a skyscraper plaza with their hair swinging and power cables strung around, it was enthralling to the senses. As my family walked away from that and towards the Field Museum we passed into a pedestrian tunnel that was acting as a natural amplifier for the guy with his guitar and case out, strumming away. I don’t remember if we went to any museums (I do remember a two-story McDonald’s) but it was the music that sticks with me to this day. Memory has probably elided these distinct events together, but that it felt that no matter where we went, around every corner there was live music, there were people stopping to take it in, to buy a tape or throw a couple coins in a hat and generally engage with eachother. The music, the people and the city were all intertwined, making this dandy wandering the natural condition of the city in summertime.

It felt that way this weekend out at the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts. Music around every corner, people milling about, curiously asking about bands, buying merch, drinking beers, walking dogs, this is what summer in the city is supposed to be. The volunteers and staff who pulled it off were amazing and the bands all brought out crowds- seriously, there is nothing more heartening than having a band start playing at 11am it 5 people and by 11:30 having a hundred people casually saunter in. I’ll take that and a sunburn anyday. The crowds were great, and as proof, here’s some footage from A Night in the Box‘s kickass closing set on Sunday. That crew knows how to throw down and the kids that came out for it knew how to dance to it and everyone else got swept up in it. Ladies and gentlemen, this is rock and roll, this is summer in the city.

A Night In The Box at the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

Plus, it isn’t a summer outdoor music festival until you have a funny dancing dude, so here’s this guy getting down to Trapper Schoepp and the Shades, who covered The Faces and The Boss in their set, and were generally a barrel of fun.

Dancing Guy at the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

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