Just when it seemed Chicago was jam-packed with summer festivals, a strange confluence of bedfellows – rival promoters Jam Productions and Live Nation, several South Side aldermen, and jam-band kingpin Dave Matthews – got together earlier this year and decided to stage another one on a huge parcel of lakeside property that can only be dubbed the “Nearly Forgotten Chicago.”
That would be Lakeside, the 600-acre site of the defunct U.S. Steel Southworks, between 79th and 87th Streets along Lake Michigan, which will host 38 bands as part of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan this weekend. Since the plant closed in 1992, it has stood as one of the largest vacant parcels of land in the city. Though there are plans to convert the property into a residential and retail hub, at the moment it’s mostly gravel and rubble – most of which will be cleared away by the time the festival starts Friday.
Here’s a rundown on what to expect:
What: Dave Matthews Band Caravan, with 38 bands playing on three stages over three days. Matthews will headline all three nights preceded by a different lineup each day.
Where: Lakeside on the South Shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, roughly between 79th and 87th Streets.
When: Parking lots open at 11 a.m. and gates open at 1 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Tailgating is not permitted. Performances begin at 1:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets: Single day ($85) and three-day ($195) tickets are on sale at www.dmbcaravan.com and will be available at the festival box office.
Transportation: Free parking is available on the concert site; there is also VIP parking ($50 plus $5 service charge). Directions to parking are available here: http://www.dmbcaravan.com/chicago-travel/. Avoid Lake Shore Drive on Saturday because it will be closed at Jackson Park for an event.
Public transportation options include the CTA Redline; stop at 87th Street, three miles west of Lakeside, and take CTA shuttle service to the site (shuttle passes here: http://faremedia.chicago-card.com/store/main.aspx?DepartmentId=34). Metra Electric District South Shore Line can be boarded at the Millennium Park Station, at Michigan and Randolph, and taken to 63rd Street, then transfer to Metra’s South Chicago branch trains to the 87th Street (South Chicago) stop. CTA shuttle service will be available to the concert site, which is four blocks east. (To buy daily or weekend shuttle passes: http://faremedia.chicago-card.com/store/main.aspx?DepartmentId=34).
Friday lineup: Dave Matthews Band (8:05 p.m., South Works), O.A.R. (7 p.m., Lakeside), Ray LaMontagne (6 p.m., South Works), Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (4:30 p.m., South Works), Amos Lee (3 p,m., South Works), Drive-By Truckers (7 p.m., Slip), Soulive (5:15 p.m., Slip), Soja (5:15 p.m., Lakeside), Daniel Lanois’ Black Dub (3:45 p.m., Lakeside), Dirty Dozen Brass Band (4 p.m., Slip), Blind Pilot (2:15 p.m., Lakeside), Alberta Cross (2:45 p.m., Slip), Gary Clark Jr. (1:45 p.m., South Works) and Bobby Long (1:30 p.m., Slip).
What to expect: Matthews will likely play a different set each night, but the main difference each day is the under-card. Drive-By Truckers are one of the best road bands working today, mixing literate, lacerating and darkly humorous lyrics with guitar crunch and tender acoustic touches. Lanois, on break from his production duties for artists such as U2 and Neil Young, delivers atmospheric rock in his new trio, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band bring the New Orleans funk wherever they strut.
Saturday lineup: Dave Matthews Band (8:05 p.m., South Works), Kid Cudi (7 p.m., Lakeside), Ben Folds (6 p.m., South Works), Umphrey’s McGee (6:45 p.m., Slip), moe. (4:45 p.m., Slip), G. Love and Special Sauce (5:30 p.m., Lakeside), Liz Phair (4:45 p.m., South Works), Vieux Farka Toure (2:45 p.m., Lakeside), Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk (3:15 p.m., South Works), TR3 (1:45 p.m., South Works), Bombino (1:30 p.m., Lakeside), Yonder Mountain String Band (3 p.m., Slip), Cornmeal (1:45 p.m., Slip), Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds (4 p.m., Lakeside).
What to expect: Liz Phair, eh? She seems out of place on a bill heavy with bands that like to stretch out on their instruments. A surer bet – and an inspired choice for this festival – is Vieux Farka Toure, a singer-guitarist who is the gifted son of Malian guitar legend Ali Farka Touré. Also, don’t miss Kid Cudi, who blends hip-hop beats with his own take on stoner rock.
Sunday lineup: Dave Matthews Band (7:05 p.m., South Works), David Gray (4:45 p.m., South Works), the Flaming Lips performing Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” (5:45 p.m., Lakeside), Emmylou Harris (3 p.m., Slip), Michael Franti & Spearhead (6 p.m., Slip), Gomez (3:15 p.m., South Works), Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (4:30 p.m., Slip), the Jayhawks (2:45 p.m., Lakeside), Mariachi El Bronx (4:15 p.m., Lakeside), Jeff Coffin’s Mu’tet (1:45 p.m., Slip), the Wailers (2 p.m., South Works) and Grace Apostolic Church Choir (1:30 p.m., South Works).
What to expect: If you can attend only one day of the festival, let this be the one. As longtime Pink Floyd acolytes (though certainly not imitators), the Flaming Lips are well suited to covering one of the British band’s masterpieces. Harris continues to make vital music that pushes genre boundaries four decades after collaborating with Gram Parsons. Franti and Spearhead are seasoned festival entertainers, the reunited Jayhawks harmonize like the second coming of the Byrds and soul shouter Sharon Jones is a sure bet to blow everyone away. Go just to see her wail, testify and stomp the stage into rubble.
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