Chicago is truly a tale of two cities - the Chicago of the winter and the Chicago of the summer. Same city, same people, same vibe, but completely different playground. Each season makes one appreciate the other all the more, making our beloved city one of the best in the world. And in a city so big and with so much to offer, there is always something new to discover - even if it has been right in your own backyard the entire time.
Welcome to our recurring segment of Backyard Treasures, a collection of some of our favorite spots, events, and activities in and around the Windy City. We’ve hand-selected each of these not only because they are amazing in their own way, but because they uniquely cultivate something that Lost Format is all about: building community. Relationships are the seasonings that enhance the flavor of our wonderful world, and the world is best experienced when shared.
So allow me to reminisce on one of my favorite (and free) summer activities: The Grant Park Music Festival.
I cross Michigan Ave. and the fervor begins to hit me. Hundreds of people of all ages, shapes, and colors saunter about Chicago’s crown jewel - er, bean. I’m now in Millenium Park, and I can’t tell who is a tourist and who is a local. And it doesn’t matter - everyone is here enjoying the open air, beautiful art, and scenic skyline that Chicago is known for. The sights and sounds alone could entertain me for hours, but there’s much more in store for me and the small posse I’m with. We make our way to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion lawn and are greeted by a sea of people, blankets, lawn chairs, picnic baskets and plastic cups. I want to swim in this sea and make it my home.
We find a small patch of grass on the southeast side facing the stage, and lay our blankets down. I proudly open the picnic wheelie cooler we got as a wedding gift, as this is one of the few times we get to use it. Bottle o’ wine #1, a slightly chilled Pinot Grig. Bottle #2, Cab Sav. No need for their full names; we’re on a first name basis and we’re about become even closer. As I work on the white my wife starts doling out the tacos from the exceptional Taquería el Asadero and my bud/bandmate brings out the crackers and cheese - Manchego with a delightfully delicate touch of Membrillo. I pour the wine and soak it in - both the wine and the scene. The sound system is a lattice work of arches against a skyscraper backdrop, giant and glowing as the evening settles into a pleasant dusk. The stage emits a fire-like light within the metal shell, exploding out towards the audience. I’m #$*&! ready for this ship to sail through the universe of my senses.
The symphony musicians arrive and it begins: the tuning of the instruments. Reverberation through the air until the sound harmonizes into waveless perfection. A short silence. And then, up, up, and away, because it’s John Williams’ “Superman March.” Wine gets drained, and another is poured. I lay on my wife’s lap and close my eyes until the last notes crescendo to a close. Applause. Then comes the unmistakable opening to the “Main Title” of Star Wars. Nostalgia is inescapable as I see star cruisers drift through a galaxy far, far away. In front of me, two children are battling with glowing lightsabers. It’s perfect. More legendary music from Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harry Potter, and more. Each one a dive into our collective imagination. We are filled with the food, wine, and lushness of sound; we are fully content. We are whole.
When it ends, we’re brought back to reality, but the memory is made. Clearly, I cherish it to this day, and hope to make similar ones. Luckily, I can, because it happens all summer long. The Grant Park Music Festival begins tomorrow, Wednesday June 13th @ 6:30pm CST, at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Grab a blanket, food, drinks, and friends - and start your summer off right.
Not sure what to wear? For ladies, The Heartbreaker and the Dreamer are the perfect tops to feel that summer breeze. For men, look no further than The Silver City - it was inspired by nights just like these.