After four successful years in Bloomington, Indiana, the fifth annual Middle Coast Film Festival will move to Lincoln Square’s Davis Theatre later this month. The event promises local movie fans “loads of films, awesome parties and endless possibilities” between Friday, September 21 and Sunday, September 23. We recently spoke to festival director Jess Levandoski about what attendees can expect. What exactly is the Middle Coast Film Fest? How would you describe its identity and mission? Middle Coast’s goal is to provide an inclusive, uplifting, and affirming community to filmmakers and audience members alike. In other words, we like to say we've created a jerk-free zone. We want this festival to be the event in Chicago where filmmakers can let their hair down and just show us films that elicit emotions. This isn't a fest where you'll get a distribution deal, it's a fest where you'll get to have real talk about your projects and where audiences feel empowered to really connect with you. We want to build a huge family! Send us your all your misfits and loners, you've got a spot here right here next to the rest of us. You've had four successful years in Bloomington already. What necessitated the move to Chicago and did you find it daunting to put on a film festival in a city that already has so many? As the founder and director of the festival, I moved, so it had to move with me! We built a great fest in Bloomington, and it really is a special town, but we hit a limit with wh
After a last-minute shakeup in its lineup (subtracting Blink-182 and adding Weezer, Run the Jewels and Taking Back Sunday) Riot Fest has finally released the daily schedule, with just three days to spare until gates open in Douglas Park. Just like last year, performances will take place across five stages, with plenty of overlapping sets that will force attendees to make some tough decisions throughout the weekend (or sprint between stages). RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Riot Fest music festival Friday is mostly devoid of major conflicts, though it is a bit strange to see local alt-rock legend Liz Phair and Russian activist rockers Pussy Riot scheduled so early in the afternoon. Hip-hop fans will want to camp out at the Radicals Stage on Friday, where Digable Planets, Atmosphere and Cypress Hill will play back-to-back sets throughout the afternoon. The Saturday lineup presents some interesting decisions, most notably the simultaneous sets from Elvis Costello & the Imposters and Killing Joke—both are rare enough bookings that there's likely a large contingent of attendees (myself included) who were hoping to catch both sets in their entirety. The same goes for the post-hardcore act Jesus Lizard and original rock 'n' roller Jerry Lee Lewis, who play against one another later in the afternoon. While Beck headlines the Riot Stage, honorary Riot Fest mascot Andrew W.K. will be performing on a smaller stage across the park, but if you're the kind of person who wants to cap
Last week, we learned about the long list of inspiring people who will be coming to the city for Chicago Ideas Week—this week, the lineup for the fall edition of the equally exciting Chicago Humanities Festival has been unveiled. The series of events and conversations will take place from October 27 to November 11 at venues throughout the city and will revolve around the theme of “Graphic!,” exploring the capabilities of visual culture and the ways in which it is rapidly evolving. As usual, the Chicago Humanities Festival will welcome a lineup of notable guests, all of whom will be part of panels and discussions that will build on the “Graphic!” theme. Among this year's slate of guests are Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks, Broad City co-creator and star Abbi Jacobson, Two Dope Queens co-creator and podcast host Phoebe Robinson, Getty Images photographer John Moore and comic book artist Alex Ross. While there are plenty of nationally recognized names on the lineup, some of the Chicago Humanities Festival programming will shed a light on local talent, including a panel highlighting the work of photographer Tonika Johnson, whose Folded Map project examines Chicago's segregation by bringing together residents who live on opposite sides of the city. A portion of the programming is being presented as part of the year-long Art Design Chicago initiative, which seeks to cement Chicago’s art and design legacy—the festival will include seven panels related to this topic, includin
Kanye West's sudden appearance in Chicago at the end of August was treated with the requisite amount of celebrity fawning, as network affiliates stationed themselves in the Loop to catch a glimpse of the hip-hop superstar. In a brief interview with Fox 32, the Chicago-native revealed that he'd returned to his hometown from Los Angeles to work on music with Chance the Rapper. When asked why he comes back to Chicago, West replied, “It’s a super inspiring place that made me who I am, and I believe there’s some work that I can contribute to.” Thanks to a series of early morning tweets, we now have a better idea of what West has in mind. West's first announcement unveiled his plans to create a Chicago office for his Yeezy footwear and clothing brand, setting up a place for local creatives to contribute to his various lines. Earlier this year, he announced plans to open Yeezy offices in New York, Wyoming and London, though its unclear if any of the locations have actually opened. Now that he holds an honorary degree from the School of the Art Institute, West is also making plans to join the world of academia. One of his tweets revealed his intention to teach a course at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as at the lesser-known American Academy of Art, a small private institution in the city that offers relatively affordable tuition and only enrolls 400 to 500 students. West ended his Chicago-related tweets with a pair of announcements that were seemingly inspired by a visit t
Earlier today, we wondered what the heck was going on with Riot Fest. This afternoon, we have an answer: Riot Fest is definitely happening next weekend, there are some new bands joining the lineup and one previously announced headlining act has been forced to cancel. RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Riot Fest music festival Organizers announced that Blink-182 canceled its appearance at Riot Fest, in addition to its remaining tour dates, due to drummer Travis Barker's continued illness. The pop-punk act was slated to headline an evening in Douglas Park, though it's unclear what night the band would have taken the stage as the festival has not yet released a schedule. According to a statement from Riot Fest founder Mike Petryshyn, Blink-182 will now headline next year's festival, which will mark the event's 15th anniversary. It's not all bad news, though. The post goes on to reveal that hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, pop-rock veterans Weezer and emo outfit Taking Back Sunday have joined the festival's lineup. The three acts were booked in a matter of hours after organizers received confirmation that Blink-182 would not be able to perform in Douglas Park. After thanking fans for their patience and support, Petryshyn confirmed that Riot Fest will be making another round of announcements—presumably including single-day lineups and tickets—on Friday, September 7 at 10am. Thank you for being patient. Riot Fest is happening next weekend. We have bad news and good ne
Eight days from now, Riot Fest is scheduled to take place in Douglas Park, but organizers behind the event have been strangely quiet since revealing the first wave of the lineup on May 30. Since then, the only substantial news that has come out of the Riot Fest camp was the announcement of a sale on three-day tickets to the festival, which were available for just $99.98 for a few weeks. The lack of announcements has left plenty of people asking themselves and others: What exactly is going on with Riot Fest? RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Riot Fest music festival With a little over a week until Douglas Park welcomes thousands of fans into its fields, there's still a lot of things we don't know about the three-day festival. There's a missing headlining act indicated by a series of question marks on the Riot Fest lineup poster, though a link in a Chicago Reader newsletter indicated that goth rockers Bauhaus will fill the slot (organizers haven't confirmed this). There's a promised second wave of bands joining the lineup that hasn't materialized. There are no daily lineups specifying the day that each of the confirmed bands is performing, and single-day tickets haven't even gone on sale. Granted, this isn't the first time that the release of Riot Fest's schedule has come down to the wire—in 2014, the festival released its schedule exactly one week before the event opened its gates in Humboldt Park. But 2018 does mark the first year that Riot Fest has not released daily lin
Each October, Chicago Ideas Week invites famous figures and influential individuals to the city for seven days of conversations about important topics such as politics, criminal justice, popular culture, religion and more. Today, the organizers behind the event revealed the lineup of speakers who will be taking the stage during the annual event, which takes place at venues throughout the city from October 15 to 21. Some of the most notable names on the lineup include former Secretary of State John Kerry, actress and activist Amber Tamblyn, Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley, Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith, comedian Chris Gethard and gun control activist David Hogg. During the festival, featured guests will talk about topics like blockchains, the #TimesUp movement, America's trade policies and the process of overcoming fear. Find a complete list of programming and browse the schedule at the Chicago Ideas Week website. Tickets for all Chicago Ideas Week events go on sale September 18, but if you're a Chicago Ideas member, you can claim your spot at the various panels and discussions beginning today. Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.
Burrito aficionados, meet your match: River North hotel Moxy Chicago is serving a 17-pound burrito as part of its Size Matters package. The supersized bundle will cost you $289 and includes an oversized cocktail from the bar, admission for two to the Skydeck at Willis Tower and an Uber XL credit to use during your visit. The special package is available as an add-on when you book a room at the hotel—where you can sleep off that inevitable food coma. The massive burrito, which is crafted at in-house taqueria Zombie Taco, is available exclusively through the package. (Don't show up there after a night out expecting to stuff your face on a whim.) Nine large tortillas are lined with three pounds of adobo chicken, three pounds of pork carnitas, two pounds of black beans, two pounds of pico de gallo, two pounds of charred corn, two pounds of carrot slaw, one pound of lettuce and two pounds of pepper jack cheese. In other words, bring a few friends to help you finish this larger-than-life dish. Take a look at a video of this monstrous dish being assembled below. Chi-town does big best. Bite into this 17 lb beauty when you book the Size Matters Package at Moxy (plus oversized cocktails, life-sized Jenga and Skydeck tix). A post shared by Zombie Taco (@zombietacochi) on Aug 28, 2018 at 11:06am PDT Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.
If it's been a while since you've visited the tropical fish, sharks, turtles and aquatic life at the Shedd Aquarium, you're in luck. For the rest of September, the Shedd is offering free admission to Illinois residents—including aquatic presentation, main galleries and the aquarium's latest special exhibit, "Underwater Beauty." The Shedd isn't just waiving admission throughout September; it's also offering free access to its entire lineup of after-hours events during the month. On Mondays, guests can attend a Caribbean Flavors and Flair event, which serves a special menu of Caribbean-inspired cuisine. On Wednesdays, you can head outside to see live music at Jazzin’ at the Shedd, which features a lineup of Latin jazz performers throughout September. On Thursdays, the aquarium will host a House Party, featuring local DJs such as Jesse Saunders, Terry Hunter and Farley Jackmaster Funk mixing beats while guests enjoy beverages and snacks. The Shedd's free admission days are always popular, but the aquarium is allowing guests to lock in their desired day by reserving free tickets through the institution's website. You'll pay a $3 transaction fee for the convenience, but it's probably worth the added cost if you have a specific date in mind for your visit. While you're enjoying more than three weeks of gratis admission to the Shedd, don't forget about all of the other free museum days in Chicago. Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.
While it's exciting that work is underway on the snazzy new Belmont Blue Line station that was first announced back in 2016, anyone who regularly commutes to the Loop via the Avondale station has a rough month ahead of them. The CTA is making way for renovations to the platform, which means that you won't be able to board or disembark from Forest Park-bound trains at Belmont through September 25. For the past few weeks, Blue Line trains traveling North toward O'Hare have been bypassing the Belmont station to accommodate work on the platform. Now, crews are adding new light fixtures and wall coverings to the other side of the platform, sending Forest Park-bound travelers to the Logan Square or Addison stations. The renovation of the Belmont station is part of the CTA's ongoing Your New Blue modernization project, which has devoted $492 million to updating the North Side train line. According to an estimate released in 2016, the Belmont station upgrade will cost $15 million. In the coming years, the Grand, Chicago, Division, Logan Square and Jefferson Park stations are all in line for renovations. According to the CTA, the Belmont Blue Line station will reopen to Forest Park-bound trains at 4am on September 25. Once this work is complete, we'll likely find out when the CTA plans to begin work on the soaring glass and steel structure (pictured in the above rendering) that will house the entrance to the renovated station—here's hoping that its construction doesn't lead to a te