Stylish Looks by the Neighborhood: Fashions that Embody Every Corner of the City

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Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and these small, distinct pockets have their own character, style, and culture.

Many of their inhabitants have more civic pride for their chosen neighborhood than they do for the city at large. This is the way we big city dwellers construct a feeling of neighborly intimacy within the anonymous metropolis. We’re all Chicagoans, but we’re also Lincoln Parkers, or Pilseners or Uptowners. And, often, our personal style matches these unique towns within a town.

Here, we take a look at the fashions that embody each neighborhood.

The Loop

barbour store

The pulsing heart of Chicago business is characterized by professional polish and efficiency. Many modern offices have gone business casual, with an emphasis on “casual,” but in the high-in-the-sky offices of The Loop, the business suit is still boss. There’s certainly a wide range of professional looks, but those that do it best excel with either custom-tailored classics or modern, slightly avant garde updates.

There are really only two ways to look bad in a suit — wear one that’s ill-fitting or terribly out of date. Even if you continue to fall back on traditional styles, you should invest in custom tailoring so that each piece fits you like a glove.

Ladies: To shake up the professional look, try different silhouettes. The jumpsuit, for example, has made a comeback, and many designers are making chic versions that are absolutely work-appropriate for the stylish, modern career woman.

Gents: Choose a slimmer fit, narrow lapels, a skinny tie and more colorful accents. If you really want to step out of the ordinary, hop on the patterned suit trend – you can go for a bold mix of patterns or stay more subtle with low-contrast plaids and solid accessories.

Gold Coast

gold coast style

Chicago’s Gold Coast is very aptly named as it has an unmistakable feel of wealth and class. This stately neighborhood is home to some of the most valuable real estate and exclusive shopping in the city and it’s been home to the city’s most influential VIPs: Potter Palmer, John Jacob Astor, and Hugh Hefner.

The name of the game in the Gold Coast is big name designers. The net worth of a given Gold Coast resident’s outfit is likely more than the average Chicagoan’s monthly rent. Style is all about luxury, high fashion and impeccable taste. You may even do double-takes at the Gold Coaster, thinking he or she may be famous…and you might be right.

Ladies & Gents: The luxuriously fashionable men and women of the Gold Coast like their designers and they don’t leave the house without looking perfect. Even errands or a trip to the gym finds these Chicago A-listers looking like they stepped out of Vogue. Head to the Oak Street shopping district for a jaw-dropping selection of designer boutiques. Even if you can’t spring for a designer outfit, you should grab lunch at an outdoor table and treat the sidewalk like a runway for a bit of style inspiration.

Logan Square

logan square style

The epicenter of the hipster continues to shift around west-side neighborhoods. A decade ago it was Wicker Park, but the rent prices and proliferation of Starbucks and sports bars long ago drove the hipster to less gentrified hoods like Logan Square and Humboldt Park. These areas, like Pilsen, are now shared by the longtime Hispanic residents and the hip crowd that seeks reasonable rents and corner dive bars.

The style here is quirky, vintage-inspired and bohemian. You have a good amount of freedom when it comes to pulling off hipster chic, but there are definitely a few staple trends: unusual eyewear, vests, leggings, skinny jeans, flannel, cowboy boots, and plaid. If you’re trying to get the look, just think of what you might wear for a day that included a few hours in a 70s university library as well as an outdoor music festival.

Ladies: Think layers, vintage, and rough-around-the-edges feminine. Many of the same things that made hippie girls cool make hipster girls cool too. It’s the easy, boho style that doesn’t appear to be trying too hard that works best.

Gents: Think lumberjack meets nerd meets hip musician and you’ll have a pretty good grasp on the male hipster look. It’s a great style for the lazily fashionable guy. Throw on a pair of skinny jeans, a plaid flannel, black, thick-rimmed glasses and a beanie and you’re all set for bicycling down the boulevards or enjoying a locally-sourced meal at Café Lula.

Lincoln Park

logan square style

This upscale northside enclave has long enjoyed the status as the yuppie capital of Chicago. The gorgeous red brick row houses, high end boutiques and lively nightlife make this hood equally appealing to locals and tourists.

Those who live and play in LP are generally of the wealthy, country club variety. The streets are populated by polished young moms pushing strollers full of kids with last names as first names, young professionals, and DePaul students. This mix lends itself to a classic preppy style which, luckily, doesn’t change too dramatically from year to year. It’s all about pastels, polos, and boat shoes.

Ladies: Go for well-tailored, clean and simple. You’ll fit right in with a pair of slim-fitting black capri pants, a linen blouse and a light cardigan thrown over the shoulders in case it gets chilly. Just don’t forget a pair of large sunglasses, and a designer handbag.

Gents: For a day in Lincoln Park, imagine that you’re heading to an upscale brunch and then spending the rest of the day on a yacht. You can’t go wrong with well-fitting, flat-front khakis, a polo or button-down and a classic pair of Wayfarer sunglasses.



Like many Chicago neighborhoods, Pilsen has dramatically changed over the last several years and continues to change every day. Now, there’s a unique dichotomy between the large Hispanic community and the edgy new transplants. Because of its nearness to UIC and its relatively cheap rent prices, Pilsen has become a haven for college students and young, artsy types alike.

The style in this neighborhood on the rise skews a bit punk and is heavy on leather, and military-inspired fabrics and colors. With the number of funky thrift stores and art galleries, fashion here is also what you make of it. Cobble together vintage and new, mix aesthetics and go for an unexpected look that expresses your inner artist.

Ladies: Channel the Pilsen vibe by pairing pieces that you might not normally put together. When it comes to edgy style, the only real rule is confidence. No matter what you wear, just make sure that you own it. The only clothes that will garner strange looks are buttoned-up, conservative ones that may make you look lost.

Gents: For male Pilsenites, denim is big. The coolest variety tends to be the super dark washes that have a slightly working man’s feel. This is definitely the area to wear your intentionally ripped-up jeans with paint splatter. Pair them with a quirky vintage t-shirt and a lived-in leather jacket and you’ll feel right at home.

What we love most about Chicago is that each neighborhood has a special flavor. Hopping from one neighborhood to another can sometimes feel like you’re traveling to multiple cities in one day.

Longtime Chicagoans have an intimate knowledge of the city’s diverse areas and choose to live in the one that feels most like an extension of who they are. But, occasionally it can be fun to travel a bit outside of your neighborhood’s borders to try on an entirely different style.

Maureen Lampert is the president of the Oak Street Council, an association of Chicago boutiques and businesses such as Barney’s, Furla, Hermès, Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade and many more. Maureen is also vice president of Lester Lampert, a custom jewelry store on Oak Street. For more information, visit Oak Street Chicago.

Holiday Shopping Downtown: Treat Yourself While Checking off Your Gift List

chicago shopping
It’s time for holiday shopping, and you’re still in a merry mood. You enter the first store smiling as you browse for the perfect gifts, imagining the grins that light up your loved ones’ faces as they open your perfectly-selected presents.

Yet, with every passing moment your spirit diminishes just a little. By the end of the day you’re sneering at strangers, pushing old ladies out of your way and alternating between freezing outside and sweating through your 5 layers in overheated stores. Plus, you forgot where you parked.

It happened again: holiday shopping Scrooged you.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Instead of letting the shopping experience kill your holiday joy, find unique experiences that make the process easy and fun. I promise; it’s possible.

Holidays on Oak Street, The Gold Coast

In Chicago’s exclusive Gold Coast neighborhood, the Oak Street shopping district has made efforts to lighten your load through free perks for shoppers.

To ease you in, they offer free valet parking every Tuesday between 10am and 2pm through December 18th (57 E. Oak St.). No more circling the block or the packed lot praying to the parking gods.

And just when you start dragging and daydreaming about your warm couch, Oak Street steps in with a complimentary Illy espresso. You can get yours every Saturday between 10am and 2pm at 57 E. Oak St.

If your schedule doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the afternoon offerings, do not fear. Many stores have extended hours during the busy buying season.

The best part? You never know when your generosity might pay dividends – with every $50 purchase at Oak Street boutiques and salons, you’re automatically entered into a prize raffle. Every Monday, they announce a winner (and no one will tell if you keep the prize for yourself).

One of a Kind Show at the Merchandise Mart
one of a kind show
Photo Credit

If handmade artisan goods are more your style, head to the Merchandise Mart between December 5th and 8th to browse unique gifts from over 600 artists under one roof.

No matter who is on your list (and how picky they are), you’ll find something that suits them. For your eccentric, fashion-obsessed sister, why not a necklace made of doll shoes? And a unique, masculine watch would be perfect for your hip, impossible-to-please boyfriend.

Tickets are only $12 per person. But, if you want to really make a fun day of it, they also offer the Friend’s Day Out package, which includes 2 tickets, 2 reusable shopping bags and 2 lunches at any of the show’s cafes.

If your list includes the folks that have it all, and if you don’t like shuffling from shop to shop, then this artistic shopping extravaganza is perfect.

Christkindlmarket, Daley Plaza
one of a kind show
Photo Credit

For those who like to combine their shopping with spiced wine-guzzling and bratwursts, the traditional German Christkindlmarket is the place to be.

If you’re up for braving the chilly temperatures, you can find unique gifts and a good time at this outdoor holiday festival that goes from November 26 all the way through Christmas Eve.

Started in 1996, the festive event was inspired by the nearly 500-year-old Nuremberg holiday celebration.It’s a favorite of many Chicagoans and visitors, who get to experience a distinctive, old-Europe tradition. And it’s certainly more fun than a food court and a department store.

In addition to the many food & drink vendors and gift stands, visitors can attend a wide variety of special events. There are several musical performances and numerous activities for children. And let’s be honest, isn’t everything better with gluhwein and sausage?

Every year it seems we have less and less time to simply enjoy ourselves during the holidays. What’s supposed to be a fun, relaxing time often ends up feeling like just more chores and work. Every January, you swear you’ll do it differently next year, right?

It’s time to put your holiday money where your mouth is. Instead of trudging through a crowded mall, choose one of these special events to get your shopping done while still remaining merry and bright.

For more information, visit

Post was contributed by Brian Burt

Higher Learning: Bringing a Whole New Meaning to “Chicago School”

rush university
Header Photo Credit: Dan Oneil

Many would argue that the city of Chicago’s architecture has influenced American architecture more than any other. Dare someone with little knowledge of the subject to name an architect, and I bet they will answer “Frank Lloyd Wright,” who famously got his start in Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire altered the age of Chicago architecture forever. For those with even a cursory knowledge of architecture history, “Chicago School” carries a lot of meaning. While the movement that developed concurrently with Modernism—that gave commercial buildings their practical steel framework—still gets attention, what about the notable architecture of Chicago’s many colleges and universities? The following five buildings are my favorite school-related buildings in the city, and while I’ve tried to develop a varied taste, I’m sure they reveal my biases.

Rush University Medical Center Jelke Building

I hate to admit that I’m a sucker for Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s buildings, but I feel that this modernist hospital is underappreciated among this huge firm’s body of work. The Jelke Building is a 15-story high rise with an impenetrable-seeming concrete façade. The building has been accused of being “ugly” or “boring,” but I find myself attracted to the utilitarian nature of both its insides and outsides. This building was completed on the Near West Side of Chicago’s downtown in 1965. Don’t miss it when checking out the other notable buildings of the Rush University Medical Center.

University of Chicago Social Services Administration Building
university of chicago
Photo Credit: Paul Goyette

60th Street on the University of Chicago’s campus showcases a number of buildings by prominent modernist architects. The SSA building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is my favorite among them. Though completed the same year as the Jelke Building, the SSA building couldn’t be more different than the downtown high rise. More horizontal than vertical, the lobby’s glass panes make the building feel transparent as opposed to impenetrable. Like many of Mies’ buildings, the exterior steel is painted black, and was repainted with lead-free paint in 2008.

Columbia College Main Building

Initially constructed as the headquarters for the International Harvester Company, the “Main Building” of Columbia College, also known as the Alexandroff Campus Center, was built between 1906 and 1907 by Christian A. Eckstorm and wasn’t acquired by Columbia College until 1975. This brick-clad building stands 15 stories tall, and has some noticeable classical stone detailing. If you have the opportunity to sneak inside, you’ll notice that the Art Deco lobby still retains some of its original marble. Built in a classical style, this building has a steel skeleton and can be found at 600 Michigan Avenue.

The Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University
roosevelt university

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This Auditorium Building is likely the best known building on this list, as it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975. Designed by Alder and Sullivan, this building is also located on Michigan Avenue, and at the time of its completion in 1889, it was the tallest building in the United States. The Auditorium still appears bulky and impressive, even though its massive raft foundation hasn’t held up and the building has “settled” about 29 inches. The first home of the Chicago Civic Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Auditorium Building now features performances by the Joffrey Ballet.

Illinois Institute of Technology McCormick Tribune Campus Center
illinois institute of technology
Photo Credit: Rem Koolhas

Many people hate this deconstructivist building that came in millions of dollars over budget, but I find it humorous. The first building designed in the United States by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the building opened in September of 2003, and features a stainless steel tube that encloses the intersecting public transit tracks. The tube may be notable, but most of the building stands a single story tall and is sheathed in glass and metal. This modern building stands in simultaneous contrast and harmony with the rest of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe campus.

Sean Lords spent three insightful years teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. Since returning to the US, he’s offered insight to others looking for tefl certification in Chicago. He’s currently working toward his Master of Education and raising an amazing family.

Lolla 2013 Recap: Day Three

Lollapalooza 2013 | Photo Credit: Ashley Garmon

Lollapalooza’s final day was set up to be my busiest of the weekend. Early sets by a few of my favorite local bands meant powering through a hangover to be there at noon, and the quality of the lineup meant there was one golden half hour to slam some food, hit the toilets and stock up on more liquor. It was, of course, all worth it.


YAWN | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III

Local psych-pop band YAWN opened Sunday with a noon set full of twirling harmonies, looping hooks and layers of splashy synths. “Indigo,” from 2011’s excellent Open Season, wooed the crowd with its seductive dream-reggae, while older track “Kind of Guy” got ’em dancing to its tribal percussion and toy piano jingle. The band’s versatility payed off when their laptop threw a fit, forcing YAWN to lean on vibrant guitars for a couple of straightforward rock tunes. The crowd responded to the lysergic downpour with overwhelming approval; a significant portion of those wandering by stopped to check the band out and stuck around til the end. The set wrapped up with club-friendly dance tune “Yabis.” The fluid groove, glitzy embellishments and cooing tandem vocals were blended perfectly by the band- a strong finish to an impressive and hopefully breakout performance.

The Orwells

The Orwells | Photo Credit: Will Rice

Another group of Chicago-based (read: Elmhurst) rabble-rousers, The Orwells put an emphatic stamp on the weekend with their combination of bombastic hooks, breakneck pacing and a typically manic effort from frontman Mario Cuomo. The boys kicked things off with “Mallrats,” the dizzying punk tantrum from their 2012 debut Remember When. Landslide drums and chainsaw guitars backed Cumo as he exercised the lyrics from his throat, gyrating with the swagger of a born rock star.

While The Orwells’ brand of dramatic and filthy teenage rock n’ roll isn’t groundbreaking, their furious delivery, keen musicianship and gaudy presence set them miles ahead of most bands their age. As great as the records sound, songs like “Other Voices” and “In My Bed” were taken to another stratosphere live. Even the relatively subdued malt shop ballad “Halloween All Year” felt epic in-person- its jangly guitars and lamented, lasery lead the perfect springboard for Cuomo’s wailing. Every year Lollapalooza offers a performance or two that serve as a coming out party, and this was it for 2013. While there has been no shortage of buzz and positive press around The Orwells, their set on Sunday caught them at their peak-to-date, and left a crowd of screaming, sweaty converts begging for more.

Wild Belle

Wild Belle | Photo Credit: AP

The third great local band to go on Sunday, Wild Belle faced two Herculean tasks: one (for me anyway) following The Orwells, and two, trying to stay cool under the August sun dressed in heavy white suits. I can’t speak to whether they succeeded on the latter, but the Caribbean-infused pop group did an admirable job of switching the mood with relaxed rhythms and tropical bop. Wild Belle’s twinkling keys and classic reggae chugging sounded crisp, but singer Natalie Bergman struggled to command the huge space her vocals had to fill. Her band didn’t do much to help early on; the highs never stretched far enough and the lows fell flat.

The disappointingly languid vibe turned around on “Shine,” from the band’s recently released LP Isles. The tune’s effervescent ’80s groove and the bright sass of Elliot Bergman’s sax inspired the singer, whose chirrup began to soar over the tight guitar blasts. Where early in the set Natalie’s vocals faltered without her brother’s backing harmony, the second half of the set found the singer confident and energized. Call it a comeback or a rebound or a smart correction, either way Wild Belle finished up solid. Saving the best for last, the group closed with a hypnotically rude romp through “Keep You.” Natalie’s vocals bounced a sort of nimbus hip-hop while her brother skronked raunchy saxophone licks- the exact combination that makes Isles such a strong record and Wild Belle a band worth keeping an eye on.

The Cure

The Cure| Photo Credit: Dave Mead

Goth rock megastars The Cure closed out the 2013 incarnation of Lollapalooza with a massive set packed with over 30 years of hits. Robert Smith and company began by unfolding “Plainsong,” a gorgeous and over-the-top dream from 1989’s Disintegration. Airy synths, sparkling chimes and forlorn bass guitar poured over the expectant crowd, creating the most moving moment of the weekend. A perfectly selected opener for a nighttime show against the backdrop of Chicago’s glowing skyline, the tune drifted seductively around Smith’s typically melancholy poetry. The chimes fizzled up again near the song’s conclusion, moving seamlessly into the iconic hook of “Pictures of You.” While I had my concerns over what a 54-year old Robert Smith might sound like, his croon on “Pictures” put my trepidation to rest. His vocals inflated and dove on cue, imbuing lyrics that in less capable hands might induce eye-rolling with a delicate sincerity that mesmerized.

The Cure drifted through their most successful singles, pleasing the crowd with true-to-album versions of “High,” “Lullaby,” “In Between Days” and “Lovesong.” Strangely, the saddest moment of the show came about five minutes after an earlier-than-expected jaunt through their biggest hit, “Just Like Heaven,” when two girls raced over from seeing Phoenix and asked if the song had already been played. The cynic in me wanted to chalk it up to karma- that’s what you get for ditching out on a legend to dance to an iPod commercial- but the girl’s devastation actually drew a bit of sympathy. The mood brightened again with the perfect back-to-back combo of “Mint Car” and “Friday I’m In Love,” whose infectious giddiness sent the crowd into a sing-along tizzy.

The only obnoxious moment of the set came when the band left stage after plowing through “Disintegration” for the obligatory pre-encore pause. More bands ought to follow Foo Fighters’ lead and give their fans an extra couple songs, seeing as an encore at a headlining set is nothing short of a formality. That encore did prove to be worth the wait though, as the band returned with an unexpected frolic through “The Lovecats.” Another string of hits, including the new wave dance jam “Let’s Go To Bed” and the pastel pop of “Close To Me,” crescendoed with 1979’s “Boys Don’t Cry.” Smith’s voice glistened with the same youthful weariness it had over 30 years ago, pouting over wiry guitar licks and stuttering percussion. It was one last dance party across Grant Park; Cure fans bouncing while Phoenix fans shimmied during “Entertainment” and the people at Perry’s did whatever it is people at Perry’s do during Knife Party’s finale.

If you enjoyed this year’s Lollapalooza coverage check out, where Gene reports on all things Chicago music.

Lolla 2013 Recap: Day Two

Lollapalooza 2013 | Photo Credit: Ashley Garmon

The biggest story of the second day of Lollapalooza was that of a band that didn’t even bother to show up. Noise-rap outfit Death Grips bailed on their fans at an official Lolla after party at Bottom Lounge Friday night, and according to festival reps “chose not to show up” for their set Saturday night in Grant Park. As much as certain corners of the internet were buzzing about the fiasco, not much of the festival crowd seemed to even notice, which is a perfectly fitting reaction for what looks like a shitty publicity stunt. Now, on to the bands that did play.

Charles Bradley

Charles Bradley | Photo Credit: Matt Ellis

64 year old former James Brown impersonator Charles Bradley made instant fans out of the huge crowd that turned out for his show on Lolla’s Bud Light stage. The singer’s larger than life stage presence was only upstaged by his grizzled, seductive voice; as punchy as Brown’s but as tender as that of Otis Redding. The band behind him walked the line between subtly and braggadocio, content to serve as the backdrop for Bradley’s crooning while ready to shine a little when he decided to dance or take off into the crowd. The music was classic soul, strolling along almost effortlessly before erupting into cathartic fits. Love was a common theme, but Bradley’s proclamations seemed directed as much at the crowd as any muse. He took being appreciative of his audience to a whole new level when, at sets end, he bolted off the stage into the crowd, shaking hands and hugging as many people as possible. For a talent as big as Bradley’s to toil in obscurity for so long, his performance at Lollapalooza was a well earned spotlight moment. He more than delivered.


HAIM | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III

LA pop-rock band HAIM brought their bubbly, feel-good jams to Lolla’s quiet, tree-covered Grove stage. The comparisons to Fleetwood Mac were justified (they even covered “Oh Well”), but I think a better description is Gold Motel playing Michael Jackson tunes. “The Wire,” from the group’s soon-to-be-released Days Are Gone, featured singer Danielle Haim doing some Gloved One-esque scatting over rattling bass and sharp licks. Much of the set followed this electric-folk meets ’90s R&B formula, and was pulled off with expert precision. The rolling bass and husky vocals of “Don’t Save Me” built a funky drama until bursting into a new wave-y dance track with whiplash percussion. Non-musical highlight of the set? A fan tossed a bra onstage that had “I will always support you” written on it. Aaaww…

Bad Things

Bad Things | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III

Tasked with filling in for no-show Death Grips was Bad Things, a band only slated to play a set with Perry Farrell at the Kidzapalooza stage. All anyone seemed to know about the group going in was that their lineup included Olympic snowboarder Shaun White on guitar, but even that stirred more curiosity in me than anything The Postal Service of Mumford & Sons were offering. The songs were mostly straight-up rockers with a few dancier numbers thrown in. If that doesn’t sound remarkable, well, it shouldn’t. What was impressive was the delivery of those songs. Bad Things played like they were getting away with something, possibly because they were. The embarrassingly scarce crowd kept growing, as people rushing between the other two headliners caught sight of how much the few who turned out were having. Most everyone was dancing, which made it all the more obnoxious when singer David LeDuke began pleading with the crowd to “fuck being cool” and let loose. His tired banter aside, the frontman was everything you want from a high energy rock band; a showman with a versatile voice and fuel to burn.

It was hard to judge just what I was seeing in the moment. Bad Things were putting on a killer show, but the fact that they’d risen to the occasion colored my perception. A relatively unknown band scheduled to play an afternoon set for children got thrown into a headlining slot at one of the country’s largest music festivals. The fact that they went balls out and delivered in any capacity was impressive. The deal sealer came when the band admitted they didn’t even have enough songs to fill an hour before launching in to a blistering cover of The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy.” It carried all the muscle of the original, turning the now packed crowd into one huge, fist-pumping mess. Called back on for an actual true, unscripted encore, Bad Things offered up one more song and offered up thanks to both the crowd and Death Grips.  The prospect of a non-music celebrity starting a band is always a bit dicey, but this wasn’t The Bruce Willis Blues Band. Shaun White came off as just a dude in a band who happened to be really good at something else. That alone could be considered a success, but their set went above and beyond.

If you enjoyed this year’s Lollapalooza coverage check out, where Gene reports on all things Chicago music.

Lolla 2013 Recap: Day One

Lollapalooza 2013 | Photo Credit: Jenny Reece

I know the trend right now calls for me to take a too-cool-for-school attitude about Lolla; to knock its excess hype, branding and mainstream-leaning lineup. As a fan of underground music I’m supposed to have an aneurysm eye-rolling at the likes of Mumford & Sons, The Killers and The Lumineers. Street-cred be damned, that’s just not the case. Lollapalooza is Chicago’s biggest and brightest party set in one of its most incredible spaces and the 2013 incarnation delivered. Here are the Friday highlights.

Deap Vally

Deap Vally | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III

I knew next to nothing about this band going in to their early afternoon show, but Deap Vally set the tone for the entire weekend. It was charred riffs, walloping bluesy vocals and gut-punch drumming from start to finish. The songs channeled bits of early Nirvana, executed with Jack White swagger. Deap Vally made a hell of a lot of racket for a two piece but the mayhem was smartly dosed out. The duo’s tight crunching and voracious percussion consistently approached all-out mayhem but always fell seamlessly back into the groove. The chemistry between singer/guitarist Lindsey Troy and drummer Julie Edwards was unstoppable on tracks like “Bad For My Body,” which leaned equally on big vocals and big sound. While Deap Vally handled an outdoor show and a crowd mixed with fans and casual listeners, they’re tailor-made for a raucous club show. Consider this your warning.

Ghost B.C.

Ghost B.C. | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III

Intentionally mysterious Swedish metal band Ghost B.C. easily win the award for surprise favorite of Lolla ’13. Clad in heavy black robes and Vader-esque face masks, the group patiently moved into position while prerecorded church bells and chanting blasted over Grant Park’s northern field. Some absolutely huge riffage served as the cue for their lead singer to emerge, also robed, wearing a black papal hat and Skeletor-style face-paint. Luckily it wasn’t all schtick; the band soon launched into some wild glam-Sabbath assault that had even the meekest hipster throwing up devil horns. Avalanches of sizzling guitars and ballistic shredding poured from the speakers, a nice contrast to the singer’s unusually sweet croon. Ghost were an absolute black magic machine, displaying mind-boggling synchronicity and plenty of snarling solos. This wasn’t just screaming, distorted metal either. Ghost whipped out a massive, succubus-themed ’80s power ballad replete with intricate piano work and grandiose guitar solos. The band’s versatility was almost as mesmerizing as their presence, even if their singer’s between-song-banter sounded a bit like Borat conducting a satanic ritual.

New Order

New Order | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III

If Ghost was the surprise favorite, New Order was the “of course you fucking loved it.” The seminal new wavers kicked their set off with “Crystal,” and while the sting of Peter Hook’s absence was felt on the first bass lead his replacement did do a fine job throughout the show. “Ceremony” played out brighter and fuzzier than on record, and was uplifting despite featuring singer Bernard Sumner’s weakest vocal performance of the evening. Sumner more than made up for that blase effort on “Your Silent Face,” a kinetic, synthy mediation from 1983’s Power, Corruption & Lies that found the frontman coolly crooning while playing guitar and melodica. The only real sloppy moment of the hit-riddled set was “Bizarre Love Triangle,” whose infectious neo-disco energy is better suited for a club than a massive field. The song did inspire people to dance, but the real bacchanal took place during a pounding rendition of “True Faith.”

New Order’s main set ended with the unmistakable rapid bass of “Blue Monday” and a manic, extended jam on orgasmic synth-pop anthem “Temptation.” The band could’ve walked off then having played the best set of day one, but that’s just not what legends do. All the spacy keys and jangling guitars faded into one focused drumbeat while Anton Corbijn’s haunting video for “Atmosphere” unfolded behind the band. New Order’s rhythm section was haunting as ever; Stephen Morris’ drums sticks sounded soaked in lead while Tom Chapman’s forlorn bass stumbled forward. The song is closely associated with the suicide of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, thanks in large part to its placement at the end of Corbijn’s film Control. Each time Curtis’ image appeared on screen the crowd, now silently fixated, offered touching bouts of applause. New Order closed with a couple more Joy Division tunes: the throbbing, angstry yet ultimately danceable “Transmission” and the ever iconic “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” The somewhat older crowd that turned out to see New Order shucked the sadness long enough for one more dance party before exploding into another round of applause. While Sumner’s voice will never sound quite right handling Curtis’ crushing lyrics, the opportunity to see Joy Division’s songs live should never be missed. Then again, neither should New Order.

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails | Photo Credit: David Mead

The headliner debate for Friday night wasn’t too tough a call for me. Having seen both The Killers and NIN before, the latter is far more my style and always puts on a hell of a show. When you can see it. And therein lies the only problem with Reznor and company’s set at Lolla ’13: the video screens were out. When the band opened with new song “Copy of A,” all that was visible to those not crammed in front were the band’s massive shadows rocking against a white screen. Initially I chalked this up to mood setting, but when the video remained off through the next few songs the crowd grew audibly pissed. NIN sounded phenomenal, especially on the riotous “March of the Pigs,” but even that wasn’t loud enough to hush the bitching of upset concert-goers. Any time the band attempted a quieter tune the beer-soaked conversation of everyone but the diehards fizzled the atmosphere. I stuck around long enough to hear true-to-record versions of “Terrible Lie” and “Closer” before heading on over to see The Killers.

The Killers

The Killers | Photo Credit: Cambria Harkey

I arrived at Grant Park’s southern field just in time to catch thousands of people bopping and goofballing to The Killers’ massive 2004 hit “Somebody Told Me.” The sea of smiling faces and bright lights was a sharp contrast to what I’d just left at The Bud Light Stage, and a welcome one. As the applause died down Brandon Flowers, the group’s ever charismatic frontman, proclaimed “Tiffany stole this song from Tommy James and the Shondelles. Tonight, we’re taking it back.” With that, they launched into an exuberant cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” much to the delight of the tens of thousands at the Red Bull Stage. As The Killers set rattled on I was blown away by just how big the band had gotten. Not in popularity, that much is a given, but in scale. I loved the tight, driving pop of their debut record Hot Fuss, but fell off the bandwagon afterward. Almost ten years later The Killers have morphed themselves into a massive scale stadium rock show, complete with kitschy covers, over-sized piano ballads and showy drum solos. When Flowers settled the crowd for a somewhat pandering take on Frank Sinatra’s “Chicago” I started to roll my eyes as my girlfriend, a huge Killers fan, aptly remarked “his Vegas is showing.” And I suppose that’s the story of The Killers: a rock band that grew up in Vegas and adopted all that city’s dazzle and spectacle when they got their break. Was the Sinatra tune necessary? No. Was it even that good? Not really, but Flowers is just charming enough to pull it off. The band closed out in crowd-pleasing fashion, with mega-hits like “Read My Mind” and “All These Things That I’ve Done.” The latter song brought me back to 2005, seeing the same band play the same stage during Lolla’s inaugural Chicago run. They’ve come a long, long way, and while I may not argue that they’re a better band, they’ve become top tier entertainers.

If you enjoyed this year’s Lollapalooza coverage check out, where Gene reports on all things Chicago music.

Top Chicago Plumbers and Contractors

barbour store

Is there any problem more frustrating than one that involves plumbing? Whether you’re stuck showering in water that won’t drain quickly enough, leaving you standing in a pool of water up to your knees every time you want to bathe, or a toilet that just won’t flush, dealing with plumbing problems is not fun for most people. While some problems can be solved with basic tools and a little bit of a can-do attitude, sometimes you need more than just a bottle of Draino or a plunger.

When it comes to plumbing, when the going gets tough, the tough call the plumber. You want to make sure that the person coming into your home is professionally trained, knows how to fix your problem, and will be sure to clean up any resulting mess. Below are some of Chicago’s top plumbers and contractors.

John J. Cahill, Inc., 1515 Church Street, Evanston, (847) 857-7383
John J. Cahill, Inc. has been an expert plumber for the North Shore neighborhood and other parts of Chicago since 1890. That is more than a hundred years of experience! You can look to Cahill for all of your plumbing needs including installations, repairs, and maintenance services. Whether you have a problem with your hot water heater, your sewer, or your water pressure, call John J. Cahill. The company also uses high tech diagnostics, like remote video cameras!

Vanguard Plumbing and Sewer Inc., 3487 N. Keystone Ave., Chicago, (773) 633-6139
Since its establishment in 1987, Vanguard Plumbing and Sewer Inc. has been specializing in sewer and drain rodding, toilet repairs, and faucets and sink replacements, among other services. As a family owned and run organization, they are committed to treating customers like family too. They are available for last minute repairs and are known to quote fair prices. If you come home to a clogged toilet and need someone to come fix it right away, consider calling Vanguard.

Power Plumbing and Sewer Contractor, 3840 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, (773) 248-9574
Power Plumbing and Sewer is another family owned and operated business. It has been serving the Chicago area for more than fifty years now, and specializes in full service plumbing and sewer contracting. Whether you need a plumber for a residential job, a commercial assignment, an industrial task, or work in a high-rise property, Power Plumbing and Sewer Contractor can help you. The plumbers at this business, established in 1960, are committed to meeting their customer’s needs, no matter how small or how big. Because they are so good at everything from repairs to full remodels, Power Plumbing and Sewer Contractor has even earned an award from Angie’s List – the “Super Service Award” – every year since the business joined up in 2002.

Rocket Plumbing, 3105 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, (773) 219-1200
With a five-star rating on Yelp, Rocket Plumbing obviously knows how to properly service its customers. Rocket Plumbing serves the entire Chicagoland area, and is conveniently located at the Addison and Ashland intersection. Established in 2003, Rocket Plumbing has spent the last ten years servicing almost two thousand Chicago customers, providing services like drain cleaning, leak repair, faucet replacement, sewer rodding, and plumbing fixture upgrading. The owner, Brian, is a Chicago local who has been a plumber for more than sixteen years. He loves what he does and will do great work for you!

Fettes, Love & Sieben Plumbing & Heating Contractor, 4325 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, (773) 935-7260

Fettes, Love & Sieben Plumbing & Heating Contractor has been serving the Chicago area – both the city itself and the surrounding suburbs – since 1924. Employing approximately sixty-five tradesmen, Fettes, Love & Sieben has expert plumbers, pipe-fitters, laborers and operating engineers. They are all committed to the highest quality craftsmanship so if you are looking for a job well done, then you need to look no further than this large operation. It has received the 2012 Angie’s List “Super Service Award” as well. Whether you live in a condo, apartment, high-rise, or your own residence, these plumbers can help you!

Photo Source
This post was contributed by Jim Klossner