Live Music at “Sundays in the Park” in Logan Square

logan square sundays
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On select Sunday evenings through October, you can drop in and catch live music at the Centennial Monument (the large eagle standing atop a massive column in the center of Logan Square) as part of the Sundays in the Park music series. The music kicks off at four o’clock, just as the farmers market held across the street, touted as the best in the city, shutters up for the afternoon, so there is an easy day to be had of outdoor food and fun.

The monument sits in the middle of an erzats roundabout, the irregular circle of grass and cement walking paths in the middle of the chaotic three-way intersection of Logan Boulevard, Kedzie Avenue, at Milwaukee Avenue — not quite big enough to qualify as a park but certainly bigger than your average traffic island. The impressive sixty-eight foot tall centerpiece of the space was created in 1918 by Henry Bacon, the same landmark designer who designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Visible from quite a distance when approaching on Logan or Kedzie, the be-eagled pillar jutting from a bas-relief adorned base sits atop a large marble landing at the top of a wide flight of cement stairs.

The Empty Bottle decided to put the beautiful space to good use and has been offering free concerts in the lap of the monument for the past two summers with the marble landing serving as the stage. In theory, there is the usual “suggested donation,” which is listed as $5, but in practice, I couldn’t even find the pay tent, and I traversed the entire area at least twice. Upcoming shows include everyone’s favorite pep band on acid, Mucca Pazza, September 18, and an as of yet unannounced “surprise final guests,” slotted for October 9.

I saw Thee Oh Sees on July 24 along with a couple hundred fervent fans as well as a smattering of picnicking families and groups of friends staked out on blankets throughout the grassy field facing the staircase. Part of the garage-psych movement in San Francisco, Thee Oh Sees — two guitarists (one, the main singer-songwriter, and the other, playing bass lines through an “octaver”), keyboardist and two drummers — put on a terrific high-energy show as the sun set on another blistering heat wave day. Located in the center of Logan Square, the monument area attracts a diverse group of people — skateboarders, homeless drunks, popsicle vendors, stroller brigades, hipper than thou hipsters — and all the usual characters were in attendance for the free concert, as well as some farmers market carryovers and an extra contingent of hipsters who made the train trek just for the show.

One of the park regulars, a homeless man who had clearly imbibed in more alcoholic beverages than the number of clothing items he wore, held court at the base of the monument behind the band, providing extra visual entertainment for the crowd. He danced and posed and grimaced and strutted. He held his arms up to the magnificent eagle, and at the top of his lungs, implored all of us to appreciate the glory of the spectacle. “Look at this! Look at this! Look at this!” he cried again and again. We complied and tacitly acknowledged his wisdom.

Check out this great summer series and enjoy the last bits of warm weather.

John Paris

About John Paris

Born in Cincinnati, raised in California, John has lived in a lot of great cities -- Montréal, San Francisco, Boston -- but now calls Chicago home sweet home, and has done so longer than anywhere else. Leaving the hills behind, he has found comfort in the flatness of one of the largest grids in the world. Neighborhoods divided into quadrants, divided into city blocks, divided into equal rectangular plots would seem to be a recipe for a grim, constricted civic culture. Not so, says John -- we Chicagoans are blessed by our situation. As inhabitants within the template of boulevards, and streets, and avenues, we dance on a perfect dance floor. The swirling, tumbling activity of circular pegs amused by square slots is the real creative genius of this fair city. Onward circular pegs!

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