Blown Away by the Chicago Open Air Festival

The inaugural Chicago Open Air Festival was announced back in January and I knew I needed to be in attendance, so I put that on my calendar right away.  It seemed like time stood still for those six months leading up to the fest, however, the three days at Chicago Open Air flew by and it seemed like it was over in the blink of an eye.

Chicago Open Air took place last weekend (July 15-17) at the beautiful Toyota Park venue in Bridgeview, Illinois.  It was a three-day music festival that hosted a slew of performances from over 60 national and international rock and metal acts on two different stages, Gourmet Man Food and a craft beer village.

This festival blew me away!  Everything was flawless, the overall execution, produced by Danny Wimmer Presents, Live Nation, and Toyota Park, with the support of the Village of Bridgeview and Bridgeview Mayor Steven Landek.

The artist lineup included some well-known Chicago bands like Disturbed, Chevelle and Ministry, but the one band I got to cross off my bucket list was Rammstein.  They flew in to do their only U.S. performance of 2016 on Friday night and they did not disappoint.  The venue was packed and they had an electrifying performance filled with pyrotechnics including fireworks and fire walls, powerful music and a super amped crowed.

My favorite part was making new friends and the comaradery amongst thousands of like-minded music loving people like myself.  I have always said, music brings people together, and that it did, over 75,000 to be exact.

I got to meet other festival-goers from all over including Canada, New York, California and more.  Chicagoland concert fiends helped make up for a good majority of the attendance.  If you take a look at my photos, you can see just how crowded the venue was.

On Friday, I was in line to get some pizza from Pizano’s Pizza and met a girl from Idaho who flew in for the festival.  She had just overcome ovarian cancer and was cleared by her doctors and given a clean bill of health.  Her friends rallied around her to pitch in money to send her on an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago Open Air and she couldn’t have been more excited.  Not only did she have so much life in her, but she got to celebrate her new lease on life free of cancer with her friends watching all of her favorite bands.

Another awesome highlight from Friday was when the 82-year-old America’s Got Talent contestant and viral video man, John Hetlinger, joined Drowning Pool on stage to perform their hit “Bodies.”  Also, mega metal band, Meshuggah performed and a monstrously amazing double rainbow appeared right before their set.

Saturday was just as thrilling as Friday and we were treated to a new single by Korn called “Rotting In Vain.”  I also got to sing Disturbed’s cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” with thousands of other fans.  The sights and sounds during that song were beautiful.  Thousands of cell phones lit up and the voices of the crowd singing were eerily on tune with the song.

Sunday started off pretty soaked with a storm coming through right before gates.  Thankfully the festival producers had a plan and pushed back the gates’ opening time to protect the concertgoers until 11:30.  They also adjusted the set times on the second stage so each band on the bill could play.  Another Sunday highlight was when Five Finger Death Punch invited a little rocker named Cheyenne on stage to sing “The Bleeding” with them where she sang the lyrics word for word with such a huge stage presence.  Mother Nature held off all day and after Slipknot left the stage and the festival concluded, more storms rolled in.

I loved the energy of the attendees with their insatiable appetite for music, and while at the fest, if they got hungry, they could feed their bellies with Gourmet Man Food from vendors, Kuma’s Corner, Aporkalypse Now, Bruges Brothers, Cheese Louise, Chicago Doghouse, Dinky’s Donuts, Master of Patties and much more.

Kicking off the festivities on Thursday was highly entertaining pre-festival Kickoff Party held at Concord Music Hall in Chicago with artists Otep, Shaman’s Harvest, Islander and Through Fire.

As a six year satellite radio subscriber, it was great seeing my favorite SiriusXM host, Jose Mangin, emceeing the festival.  He eats, breathes and sleeps hard rock music like me and throughout the weekend, SiriusXM Octane promoted Chicago Open Air to the nation.

While hanging out in the media tent, I got to see my fair share of artist interviews, met a few of them and even got to say hi to my TV and radio idol, RIki Rachtman.  Press from all over the world came in to attend Chicago Open Air and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be at this larger than life event.  If you didn’t get the opportunity to go this year, make plans to go next year.  You won’t want to miss it!

Photos by Janelle Rominski.






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