Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chicago Blues Fest 2017 Pros and Cons for the new Millennium Park location By Linda Cain @Chicago Blues Guide

Thank you to writer Linda Cain for providing this informative piece on the Chicago Blues Fest new location!

No security checkpoints. Nobody was confiscating beer from picnic coolers.
No food and drink tickets this year. No standing in line for those stupid tickets, that are such a ripoff. Cash or credit was accepted by the vendors.
The stages this year were much closer together than in Grant Park, which was far less tiring than the blocks-long trek between those stages. But that also meant there used to be more room for people to picnic and relax.
The Pritzker stage, sound, seating and lighting is far superior to Grant Park’s Petrillo Bandshell , which was built in the 1930s. The Pritzker stage boasts a giant screen with skilled camera men that can be seen for blocks.
We got to see many outstanding shows and artists, some of whom we’d never seen before.
We got to hang with our great blues buddies and have a blast.
The Pritzker Pavilion has real bathrooms and sinks.

 With two days over 90 degrees, shade was needed for survival. There were not enough shady spots for folks to set up their blankets and chairs. The few green spaces near the day stages were jam packed.
There were no fans in the Mississippi or Front Porch tent stages. They have them at Jazz Fest, but apparently blues fans aren’t worthy of fans.
The tent stages sheltered us from the sun, but it was like a 100 degree sauna with no air flow.
The tent stages had plenty of seating. The Mississippi and Front Porch stages were too low, so people in back couldn’t see. Raise the stages, please. The photographers cannot shoot with such low stages and they are forced to block the audience’s view
Unlike the stages in Grant Park, the tent stage settings are sterile and have no ambience. It was always a pleasure to go to the Front Porch stage with Chicago’s skyline rising behind it. And the former Crossroads stage was surrounded by a grove of shady trees with the lake behind it.

Pre-printed fliers distributed on Friday had incorrect information. The schedule for Saturday was listed under Sunday. And Sunday’s lineup was under Saturday’s date. And Lynne Jordan’s set time was listed at 2:25-1:45 pm. Say what? And the sign in front of the Crossroads stage said the same thing!

On Sunday night there were long lines for the water fountains in the pavilion restroom area. There were two fountains. One of them was broken all weekend.

The Crossroads stage (aka Hellhound on My Trail Stage):

The aisles and walkways were insanely crowded. You needed to be a linebacker to get through. It was downright scary. This was caused by the location of the beer and food trucks, especially by the Crossroads stage. You couldn’t get near the stage because of the people standing in line for beer and food that formed a human wall!  Some of our staff and friends missed seeing great acts on that stage due to the human wall that blocked all passage.

The walkway to the Mississippi stage was often blocked for the same reason. And one of the food trucks consistently blew smoke over the people camped out on the small lawn area across from it. Very poor planning!

The Windy City Blues Society and Fernando Jones’ Blues Kids lost their own stages. They were forced to share a stage in the Blues Village. The WCBS stage has always had the most exciting nonstop band lineups, but they were only allowed five half-hour sets per day this year. The city didn’t even bother to publish the lineup on its website or fliers this year. Nor were there signs directing people to the stage.

While the Pritzker stage is far superior to the Petrillo, the seating and lawn area is only a fraction of the size of Grant Park. The Petrillo lawn area holds over 30,000. Pritzker’s lawn and seating capacity is only 11,000.

The size of the crowd that was crammed into the park on Sunday to see Gary Clark, Jr. made things downright scary. Security let fans cram themselves into in the exit aisles, blocking passage to and from the front seating area.

Chicago Blues Fest 2017
Pros and Cons for the new Millennium Park location
By  © Linda Cain, Editor/Founder
Chicago Blues Guide

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