What better way to enjoy an unseasonable hot weekend than with friends, food, beer, and amazing music at Goose Island‘s 312 Block Party! This year’s block party kept the fun going with all the fun things you expect from this yearly showcase of Goose Island’s beers and musical amazing talent. Take a look at my thoughts on the beer and musical acts that made the Goose Island’s 312 Block Party such a great experience!
Obviously, the beer at Goose Island was a nice highlight of the weekend. Each of the beer stations has a wide variety of brew were all on hand, ready for the huge crowds to descend on their varied tastes and styles. While the typical Goose Island brews were scattered throughout the fest grounds, there were two spots that stood out from the rest: The Chicago Brewing District station and the Tap Room.
The Chicago Brewing District station had two beers from 5 breweries located fairly closely to the 312 Block Party grounds: All Rise Brewery, On Tour Brewing Company, Finch Beer Company, Great Central Brewing Company, and of Course Goose Island. They were all represented at the spot close to the entrance which became a very popular throughout the weekend.. It offered even more variety to the massive beer list at the fest and featured some of the best beers available those two days, including a few personal favorites: Tacocat and Three Orange Wit. I know I had tasted Finch’s Tacocat in the past, but something about it during the 312 Block Party hit the spot. It has very sour tarty nature that is balanced by some really crisp fruit notes that make it feel like a strange wine. All Rise’s Three Orange Wit gave me a punch of citrus that was underlined by a malty note that gave it a very big and heavy taste.
The Tap Room, as always, carried the rarest beers on the weekend’s liquid menu and it did not disappoint. I had the pleasure of trying a few of the Bourbon County Stouts (the blackberry variation was a divine combination of standard BCS alcohol heaviness, a sharp sweetness, and a syrupy mouthfeel) and the Copper Project brews (No. 1, the scotch ale, had an incredibly boozy and heavy bodied complexity that was impossible not to love). The lines for the Tap Room reached enormous lengths more than once and for good reason. Goose Island’s rare beers offer tastes that are not just hard to find, but taste wonderful.
THE LOCAL STAGE
I don’t think anyone was really expecting the weather to still be in the mid 90s this late in September, but holy crap it was in the mid 90s this past weekend and no one was fully prepared. Normally the difference between the heat inside the Local Stage warehouse and the street isn’t that noticeable, but this year the gap between the two was nigh unbearable. Walking in there was not unlike a sauna, but luckily the music was as good as ever! The Drastics , Low Down Brass Band, Malcolm London, Dos Santos, and the Sueves’ had everyone in th Local Stage grooving out the entire weekend. One of the biggest highlights of the Local Stage was weekend opener Ovef Ow. Their fun surf rock sound fit in perfectly with the block party’s aesthetic. The entire band was on fire with Sarah Braunstein drums, Kyla Denham on synths, and Nick Barnett on guitar. but it was bassist and vocalist Marites Velasquez who stole the show with her impressive stage presence!
Before starting their set, Filthy Friends made sure to compliment DJ Faithful Anchor on his great set, calling one of the best they ever heard. The crowd cheered and befoe they could settle down the Filthy Friends jumped into their amazing set. They may have have started out as a David Bowie cover band, but Filthy Friends have become much more than that. In factm they always were much more than that. This iteration of Filthy Friends sees Corin Tucker fronting the band with vocals and guitar, Kurt Bloch on guitar, Scott McCaughey on bass, drummer Linda Pitmon, and Peter Buck adding in even more guitar. Just looking at the lineup behind this band should have given you enough indication that this was going to be one hell of a show. Tucker’s voice has always been a marvel, whether in Sleater Kinney or her solo project, so it makes sense that it bursts forth strong with Filthy Friends. I was in awe of their chemistry and just how much fun they were having. McCaughey and Bloch especially a they jammed out with one other constantly.
TED LEO + PHARMACISTS
I was incredibly excited to see Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and they did not disappoint. Mere moments in to their first song “Moon Out of Phase”, Leo blew his amp, the second amp he broke that he he mentioned. This was not an omen of a disastrous set but a glorious sign of a phenomenal one. His voice was primed and ready for the following explosiveness that quickly got to that majestic song that desperately asks the question “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?” Normally playing such a big song so early on would be a misstep, but Leo and the Pharmacists followed it with great songs from Shake the Sheets, Hearts of Oak and his latest album The Hanged Man. Thalia Hall showIt’s so good to have this version of Ted Leo’s musical presence back and if this performance is any indication of his upcoming , then it’s going to be a must see!
THE RECORD COMPANY
I wasn’t too familiar with The Record Company before this performance, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Once their bluesy rock with a nice country twinge started going, I was pleasantly surprised. This three piece band, (made up of guitarist/vocalist Chris Vos, bassist Alex Stiff and drummer Mark Cazorla) didn’t hesitate to make an impression with their driving riffs and pretty electric stage presence. Chis Vos in particular was riling up the crowd with his expressive movements, jamming out the bands songs with a ferocity that is often missing from straight forward rock shows. Around the mid point of the night they did a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” that was nice stand out in their set which let me impressed with their brand of blues rock.
A DJ set from Prince Paul is nothing short of a privilege to experience and for just about a solid hour the man played jam after jam. Prince Paul seemed to have a clear vision into exactly what the crowd wanted to hear , whether it was starting things of with a Tim Meadows skit, getting the crowd grooving to Prince, doling out classics like Biggie’s “Juicy”, or mashing up “Smells like Teen Spirit” with a cavalcade of hip hop tracks. While the early crowd was smaller than what this master deserved, those that were present were dancing their butts off to this expert DJ set.
Joey Purp came out to very large and energetic hometown crowd and he absolutely deserved it. Purps has been on a roll with Chicago performances with his set at Pitchfork being an explosive showcase of local rappers and water balloon/super soaker excess. While this set was much less chaotic, it’s quality was on par as Purps energy on stage is infectious. He never lets up as he bounces on stage and drops verses from iiiDrops with all the confidence in the world. Purp was all smiles when the mic wasn’t pressed up to his face, acknowledging the tremendous crowd that was entranced by his amazing songs.
It became pretty obvious that the special guest of the evening would be Vic Mensa after Joey Purp’s set. Every one was passing the news around like wild fire and you could tell they were hyped about it. When Mensa came on stage, the crow erupted in joy. Unfortunately, technical difficulties cut the surprise short, only allowing him to perform two songs. The first time the mic cut off, Mensa jumped to the edge of the stage to greet his crowd before disappearing backstage. After quite a while, the mic was working again and Mensa returned to the stage, performing his spot on “Coco Butter Kisses”. He was wild, making sure he hit every inch of the stage before diving into the crowd. It was the kind of performance you would expect from Mensa, pouring all his energy to a riveting spectacle. As soon as the song finished his mic cut off again and he stormed off stage. Disappointed fans yelled “You did Vic dirty” and I honestly can’t blame them. Given the intensity he had in the two songs he performed, we were robbed of what would have been a top tier performance from Mensa.
Animal Collective finished off the weekend with their brain melting sound set to the Painting With… kaleidoscope lights painting the large sculptures behind the band. Acting as a three piece with a touring drummer, Animal Collective lived up to their reputation of daring sounds and the jaw dropping atmosphere it creates. Avery Tare’s (David Portner) sensational yelps and moans together with Geologist (Brian Weitz) and Panda Bear’s (Noah Lennox) constantly evolving menagerie of sounds collided with the warm night in such an astounding way. Everyone was hot and sweaty, dancing their hearts out to instantly recognizable songs like “Bees” or the enthusiastic melodies of “Kinda Bonkers”. This was a tight performance that reached a peak with “Summertime Clothes”, making for one of the more dizzying and fantastic moments of the weekend.
All photos by Julian Ramirez