All hail the Hideout Block Party

As great for what it is as for what it ain’t

September 5, 2013

For a decade or so now, since more-bling-for-your-buck festivals became the dominant model in the summer concert season, I’ve entered the waning days of August with a heavy heart, sad for a casual concert-going public that could not care less about sound quality, sight lines, the way they’re treated or—all too often—the quality of the music on stage.

And that’s not even taking into consideration other distasteful festival happenings such as violent rain and hail storms that expose the fact that there’s just no good way to safely evacuate thousands of people in a park, promoters who see no moral dilemma in showcasing the work of artists who’ve done great harm to the surrounding community, and idiots like the recent festivalgoer who stripped naked, ran into the street, stopped a fellow driving a Mercedes, broke the windshield, and only came back to earth when he was tasered by the cops.

Hey, a bro just wants to party, dude!

Silly me, upholding the naïve ideal that a festival should be a celebration of art by a community that shares an aesthetic and an ethic. Is such a thing even possible anymore, I always wind up wondering around Labor Day?

Then, thankfully, September rolls around, and with it comes the annual Hideout Block Party.

The street fair outside everyone’s favorite dive bar on Wabansia off Elston certainly is not the biggest, the hippest, the best-funded, the most-hyped, or the most scenic of the local festivals. (That is, unless you love the ambience of the neighboring parking lot for garbage trucks, as I confess I do.) It simply has the most soul, many of the best sounds, and an audience devoted to hearing that music and welcoming anyone who shares the same passions.

Co-produced this year with the Onion’s A.V. Club, the 16th annual block party gets underway at 4:30 Friday afternoon with a lineup that features Nude Beach at 5:15, Trampled by Turtles at 6:15, the Chicago soul legend Mavis Staples at 7:30 and Neko Case at 8:45. Staples, a chronically under-heralded national treasure, is riding high on her recent album One True Vine, while Case is celebrating the release of her new, wordily titled The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You.

On Saturday, the gates open at 12:30 p.m., and the music includes Guitarkestra at 1:30, Girl Group at 2, the ubiquitous Jon Langford at 3, a great duo called the Both featuring Aimee Mann and Ted Leo at 4, the Walkmen at 5:15, the mighty Superchunk at 6:30, the Hold Steady at 7:45, and Young the Giant at 9.

Two-day passes are $70, single-day tickets are $35 Friday or $40 Saturday, and, as always, a portion of the proceeds benefit Chicago charities, including Rock For Kids. More information can be found here, where you also can read this brief mission statement for the event:

The Hideout Block Party has always prided itself on being a low-stress, family-friendly festival, and that tradition will continue this year. Food and drink will of course be available, along with a kids’ area, a bike valet, and much more.

That is to say, don’t expect to see a naked vandal electrocuted by the man.

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