Chicago rocks. Especially in the summer when the wind chill isn’t measured in Kelvin and the women aren’t wrapped up in North Face from head to toe. But more so for the festivals – from the insanely crowded Taste of Chicago featuring more belly fat than the morning hog report to German-American Fest which requires blowing a 0.20 in order to leave the premises to Lollapalooza in August generating enough dirty hipster sweat to start a small sea. But our favorite, which we attended for the second time in two years is Whole Foods FlavorFest in Lincoln Park. It’s a two-day affair in a quiet out of the way city park that somehow does not attract the quantitude of masses the other fests do. Which is okay with me. For $5 I get admission and a resusable cloth grocery bag which I can also use to collect more free samples that can comfortably fit in the bag from the plethora of healthy and organic food type vendors that set up shop on one side of the park. Not to mention the free samples of food eaten on site. We ate more yogurt than Jamie Lee Curtis during an commercial taping, along with sausage, hot dogs, empanadas, cookies, chips, energy bars, ice cream, pizza, noodles, and cheese, and washed it all down with an assortment of juices, smoothies, teas, and sodas. And since the vendors used organic ingredients it was all free of both calories and carcinogens and everybody left feeling at least five years younger.
The food alone is worth the price of admission but, not to sound like Ron Pompeil, that’s not all! There is music. Not just the hippie shit you might expect from such an event, although there is some of that. One of the chicks doing a set in the afternoon might have inspired us to kill ourselves if we weren’t already amped up on the free samples of Power Thirst or whatever it is those marathon gamers are chugging these days. But last year we saw Cracker, probably only with a couple hundred of our closest friends. I’ve seen bigger crowds at waiting for an empty Port-o-Potty at the bigger fests.
This year we hung out with our free booty to see The Smithereens. All for the same $5. I have a couple CD’s and like their stuff, but didn’t have overly high expectations for the show. It was impressive that they had the same lineup except for the bass player. I think lead vocalist Pat DiNizio ate him. He’s put on a bit of weight from how I remembered him in their videos, but I was sitting there with a shopping bag full of soda and chips so perhaps I shouldn’t be so harsh. I also believe there have been some health issues, so now I feel bad.
The show started out as expected and I was enjoying it just fine, but after they got warmed up they broke out into an incredibly rocking jam during The House We Used To Live In and never looked back. Even after all these years, they still look like they’re having a great time, seemed appreciative of the crowd that came out, and delivered a solid, surprisingly energetic show. Minus one star for not playing Yesterday Girl, but the rest of the show made me forget it.
So. Whole Foods FlavorFest – be there next year. Smithereens – if you liked their stuff in the 80’s and 90’s, check them out if they come to your town.
Finally, an aside. There was a vendor out there called Upton’s Naturals whose brand is represented by an old-time dude with a handlebar moustache. Besides samples of their vegan pretend sausage (which was delicious, so please send me a free case if you're reading this Upton), they were also handing out coupons and fake moustaches. I grabbed one thinking it would be hilarious to wear one at work since I’m always looking for ways to lighten things up around the workplace. (After being informed by staff that jean shorts are about the uncoolest things going these days, I wore an old pair of mine to work for comedic effect.) It wasn’t until I got home from FlavorFest that I realized I already had a moustache as part of my goatee, and wearing a fake moustache on top of a real moustache isn’t funny. It’s just stupid. I can’t believe I spent all that energy carrying it home. If anyone needs a fake moustache, let me know.