It was bright and early on a Saturday morning when I woke up for our road trip from St. Louis to Chicago. The sun had yet to rise and the birds yet to sing; but I was already dedicated to the epic weekend that was about to unfold with my buddy Patrick. Waiting for us was a new city to explore and the great techno group, Infected Mushroom. The next day, Rob Zombie was going to be playing back home in St Louis. Then finally, Monday featured Cage the Elephant who was playing in the same area. This was going to be a weekend for the books.
I was all ready to leave; there was just one thing left to do. I logged into facebook and tried to sum up the weekend in one sentence for my status as best I could; Three concerts, two cities, one weekend. I just was about to log off when something on my news feed caught my eye. My traveling musician buddy, Zack, posted a public message saying that he was going to be performing Chicago the very same day. I laughed out loud in disbelief. It was much too early in the morning for me to comprehend such a cosmic coincidence, so I sent him a message that I’d be in town and I’d try to catch his show. As exciting as all that was, I couldn’t forget our main mission, so I took off, picked up Patrick, and we drove down 55 as the sun slowly climbed in the eastern sky.
We arrived at our parking garage and went straight to the roof. Opening the door to the top of the four story building revealed the towering buildings around us. I looked around, taken aback by the giants that looked down on us. This was my first time in a big city like this, and the view of the skyscrapers had my jaw on the floor as I rushed around with my camera filming shots. The Sears Tower was hidden behind its little brothers, but the John Hancock Center was visible to the north. In my excitement for the things above us, I had forgotten about the thriving city below. I took a look out over the edge and surveyed the concrete jungle. It was just like looking at life inside a cell; with people walking and biking around, cars and taxis weaving in and out passed other in the hustle and bustle spirit of the Windy City, all with a different purpose. Our six hour trip was already worth it, and we had only just arrived.
After we regained our composure, we decided our first stop would be the Navy Pier. During the walk there, I gave Zack a call to see what the plan was. As the call rang to voicemail, I realized that noon was probably a little early for a traveling rock star, so we made our way out into the city. As we hit the streets, we both sniffed the air noticing the distinct sweet smell of chocolate, and we couldn’t decide whether it was actually chocolate or pollution. We later learned that this was the result of emissions of the nearby Bloomer Chocolate Factory, an interesting touch to Chicago’s ambience.
“Navy Pier” read an archway above an ocean of people. We had arrived. The place consisted mainly of overpriced restaurants and boat tours, but the real treat was found at the end of the pier. Before us the Great Lake Michigan stretched out to the horizon, a view that’s enough to leave any man speechless. Far out on the lake was a massive ship, and somehow the position of the boat created an optical illusion that made it appear to float above the water. The port was guarded by two light houses, one on each side of the opening, which made for a grand photo opportunity. And as the view of the lake began to lose its Wonder, all you had to do was turn around to see the Chicago skyline. It was far enough away to see the whole picture, but still close enough to really appreciate and get a sense of how massive the buildings really are. It was a 360 degree view of awesome. Just as we decided it was time to leave, I got a phone call from Zack. He was going to be playing at a bar a few hours before the Infected Mushroom concert, the perfect time to be able to see both shows. I told him we were about to check out the Sears Tower and we’d see him later on.
On our way to the once tallest building in the world, we ran into a bunch of students protesting in front of a Church of Scientology, all in different costumes to hide their identity for their own safety. One was a giant Rubix cube, another was dressed up as a dead body, another in a joker outfit. I wish I could go into detail about the whole thing, but the history of Scientology and these protests is a story for another scholarship essay.
The lines inside the Sears Tower took up most of our afternoon. While we were waiting, we were entertained by walls of tidbits of trivial trivia. Did you know the Tower was 262 Michael Jordans tall? How about 313 Oprahs? I’d bet you’d never guess that it’s 283 Obamas tall. After all this I still didn’t even know how tall the actual building was, but when we finally got to the top, it didn’t matter. We were treated with one of the most awe-inspiring views I had ever seen in my life. City lights for as far as the eyes could see; it looked as if the stars in the sky had switched places for just one night. Before we knew it, Zack’s show was upon us and it was time to head out once again.
After an interesting first cab experience, we arrived at Bernice’s Tavern a small hole in the wall bar located right next door to a health food store. Walking through to the back of the bar lead us to Zack and his band, setting up and getting ready for the show. It was thr first time I had seen him in ages, and our excitement was mutual. Hearty handshakes and a few introductions went all around, and then came a round of beers. If it wasn’t a big enough of a coincidence that Zack and I were in the same town miles away from home on the very same night, four more friends from high school showed up. Three of them were visiting a friend who goes to school in Chicago. It was by far the biggest coincidence of my life. We had a great reunion of friends and enjoyed the great sounds of the Zack Weber Band.
The concert came to an end, and we had just enough time to get to the next show. We said our goodbyes and ventured out to our main purpose for being in this great city. We dropped some stuff off in the car and began our walk to the House of Blues. As we got closer, the line to get in became more visible. It was probably a hundred people long, and in the bitter cold, the thirty minute wait felt a little bit longer. But it was all worth it once we were inside and enjoying the sounds of Infected Mushroom. The dance floor was packed like sardines. Once the music began, the people merged into one living thing; moving, breathing in unison, all bound together by the sounds and energy behind the music. The wooden floor turned into a solid ocean of waves as everyone was lifted by the music then pulled back down by gravity. But as long as the music was playing, gravity didn’t have a chance, and the music played for quite a while.
Alas, all good things must come to the end, and our time in Chicago had come and gone. But an end is only a new beginning, and we still had two concerts to go in this wild weekend—or so we thought. We ended up missing the Rob Zombie concert the following night, and the Cage the Elephant concert as well. The second concert was an unfortunate mistake on my part, but the third concert was missed for a very good reason. My weekend for the books very unexpectedly turned into the week of my life. I only wish I could continue writing about my story, and even adding more details about what else happened on my Chicago trip, but I’m coming up on my 1,500 word limit, so I’ll just have to leave it at this.
Here is the video of the trip I made that shows a bit more of the trip
*The Sears Tower is now known as the Willis Tower, but I like the sound of Sears better
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