Beyond is a broad category. As such, it’s been hard to choose just three things that represent the best things we covered in Chicago this year. So much so, I may have snuck in a fourth. But the lists must flow, so here we go! If you think we missed something, or you’d like to give a shoutout to something special you saw here in the wilds of the Beyond page, make sure to leave a comment to let us know!
Meanwhile, in no particular order, here’s Editor’s Choice for Best in Beyond:
June 2016: Jonathan Coulton with Paul and Storm at the Vic:
2016 has been full of surprises, some of which were quite unpleasant. Others, like our opportunity to meet and interview “comedy musicians” Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm, were a fantastic surprise. It was a special moment for Third Coast Review, as we were just launching our podcast, and though all three of these talented musicians are hilarious, I was surprised to find the conversation less standard interview and more inspirational. Coulton, along with Paul and Storm, all got to where they are by embracing their own strange place in the world, between comedy, nerdery and music, and working really, really hard. These guys are incredibly supportive of their fans and in fact, anyone who’s trying to pursue their passion in the arts, and this talk turned out to be one of my all time favorites. The show at the Vic echoed that, feeling more like a gathering of friends than a concert, and the whole experience really deepened my affection for all three of them.
August 2016: Wizard World Chicago
Con season starts early in Chicago, with C2E2 in the Spring, a smattering of more specialized conventions during the summer, and finally Wizard World Chicago. Wizard World is the biggest (though also the most corporate, as Wizard World cons are held across the country year-round) but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best, and in fact, in past years, we found it lacking. This year was a different story though, as Wizard World 2016 rolled in with a surprisingly robust list of guests that made the event unmissable for anyone who loves pop or nerd culture. The celebrity guest list ran the gamut, from an amazing Back to the Future panel with Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd to the X-Files panel with all of our favorites (Duchovny, Anderson, Pileggi and William B. Davis). The full cast of Ash vs. the Evil Dead showed up with Bruce Campbell, as well as the entire cast of Daredevil, John Barrowman, and in what would unfortunately be her last appearance in Chicago, Carrie Fisher, who took time out to laugh, advocate and inspire as she always did. It was for all these reasons Wizard World was the place to be this year, and I was glad to have gone.
October 2016: Post-Season Baseball- They’re Really Doing It!
Though we don’t have a formal sports page here, we do have dyed-in-the-wool Cubs fans, like me and Phil Huckelberry, who wrote this wonderful piece on the generations awaiting this moment. Even if you didn’t grow up bleeding Cubby blue and cursing any goats in your path, the excitement was undeniable as the Ws kept adding up and the seasons changed. The W Flag flew in places it never had before and even church signs proclaimed our belief that this really could be the year. The Cubs in their World Series run were living the best baseball movie of all time, and we got to bear witness for that final, agonizing game, and that final, amazing out. I don’t think we could really come away from this year at Third Coast Review without saying that the Cubs winning the World Series was simply the.best.
October 2016: Tattoo at the Field Museum Truly Goes Beyond
We got wind of the Field Museum’s tattoo exhibit months before it actually opened. Rumor was that it was going to be the thing to see this year. Like Voudou, Tattoo was a subject that still carries a stigma with some, even being completely taboo in some circles. And where that would deter some institutions, the Field Museum marched on even more intent to shatter the stereotypes, educate and really showcase the beautiful art that so many have carried on their bodies for centuries. And though it wasn’t a surprise, what a gorgeous gallery lay in wait for us, we were absolutely stunned when the rumors we’d heard about live tattooing at the formal opening turned out to be understating what was going on at the Field. In fact, Tattoo features a fully licensed and functional tattoo shop staffed by some of Illinois’ most prolific tattoo artists, and visitors to the exhibit could sign up to get inked in museum (though even the wait list got maxed out within minutes of opening). Weekend visitors to the exhibit will get to see tattooing done live throughout the exhibit’s run at the Field Museum. That effort, fearlessness and level of interaction certainly make this exhibit a can’t miss, and a true best.