One of the very best parts of Chicago summers are the street festivals. Sure, they cause a little more traffic by closing down major streets for a weekend. But there is just something about being able to wander down a main artery of the city with a drink in hand and saunter up to an outdoor stage and watch heavy musical hitters play. When we’re talking North Side street fests, Wicker Park Fest is one of the largest and most impactful. This year’s lineup boasted everything from Hepcat to Waaves to Superchunk to Screaming Females and many more.
After work, I hopped in my car and headed across a heavily trafficked North Side with my camera bag in tow, detouring through side streets until I made it to my coveted secret parking space in Wicker. I sprinted past the shell of what used to be Double Door and the smells of Flash Taco and entered through the festival gates just before Blood People took the stage. Luckily for me, the band’s drummer and resident good dude – Mickey – had procured a pass for me so I could snap some photos from both onstage and in the barricaded area, safe from the ever-growing crowd.
The Chicago four piece took to the stage at 6:30PM and continued to wow the crowd song after song. They relied heavily on hits from their latest release, Great Reactor, as well as a few older fan favorites along with a cover song. The stage Blood People played on was located just after one of the major entrances to the festival, meaning that everyone entering through the gates was privy to their set. And from what I could see, many of them stayed to watch at least a few songs, if not the whole set.
Next up were the amazing ladies in Bad Cop / Bad Cop. I had just seen them the night before at Beat Kitchen, but they are just one of those bands I could follow all over the world on tour and watch night after night and never get over. The energy of their sets are always palpable and this outdoor setting was no different. As I snapped photos and ran across the barricade, I was able to take a few moments to marvel at the large crowd all singing along. The set list was similar to the prior night’s show, consisting of a good mix of newer (from their 2017 release Warriors) and older.
They played a personal favorite of mine, “Rodeo” off their 2014 EP Boss Lady, which I went wild for. Between songs, they played the “Chicago Game” which I don’t 100% understand (does anyone?) but I know was started when the ladies toured through a few months back and played Live From the Rock Room Fest at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge with The Smoking Popes. #1 Rule of the Chicago game: incorporate the word ‘Chicago’ into every sentence you say on the mic as many times as you can. All in all, it was another amazingly strong and inspiring set by a band who is more necessary to not only their genre of music but to music as a whole. Bad Cop / Bad Cop are putting the finishing touches up on their next release which will be out soon-ish… but not soon enough for me. I can’t wait.
Check out some photos from the day and keep checking back for more updates on Bad Cop, Blood People, Chicago street festivals, and White Claw: