Clearing the Air at Chicago Open Air with Candy Gunn
24 July 2017 News
Clearing The Air
Review By: Candy Gunn
July 14th I walked out onto the field at Toyota Park in Bridgeview Illinois. The GM at Rock Rage Radio sent me to this metal fest, and being this is the first festival I attended I had no idea what to expect. I stood at the gate watching the stage getting prepared for the first band. Hell Or High Water stepped out onto the stage and packed a powerful punch of metal straight to the face. The song I Want It All made a smile on my face appear. A raucous powerhouse song that got your heart pumping, and the crowd jamming. They ended their set, and I was ready for more. During the wait I spoke with Cesar a security guard in front of the stage. I had noticed his stance and his eye on the crowd, making sure our safety and the safety of the bands was protected. His stoic stance along with his colleagues during a hot July day unwavered. I was impressed by security.
The next band Crobot came out onto the stage and it was an all out food for the soul metal spiritual awakening. Lead singer Brandon Yeagley was intense and the passion of song poured out onto the crowd. The band brought everybody in the crowd onto another level of metal madness. They finished their set and the downtime came before the next band came out. In the crowd people were getting pumped, and the next band drew a crowd of women enamored by the lead vocalist. Falling In Reverse kicked out the set with repeated blows to the mind with powerful songs we could all relate to from haters to those we hate. As Ronnie Radke belted out truths about the shit in life, the girl standing behind me screams “I love you” “marry me” and “have my baby” with a dedicated stand to her, perhaps, favorite singer ever. They ended their set on a high point and a song that brought out an enthusiasm like none other.
Up next Anthrax blazes onto the stage and singer Joey Belladonna belts out a lyrical reality as Scott Ian’s familiar metal dance, and guitar shredding put the crowd into a thrash. I could feel the weight of the people behind me as I tried to hold onto the fence. The greatest moment of singing Antisocial by yours truly, thankfully muffled by the band and the crowd, was an epic take back in time. By this time the crowd was thick, the air was hot, and there was no bitching or complaining from anybody in that crowd. The band finished their set, and a lull came over the crowd. By this time I was going to be where I stood without leaving, the only thing we could all do is hang out and talk to the people around us, that’s how I met Rebecca from Chicago. I took advantage of the moment and we went live on the spot for a Rock Rage Radio update. After that I talked to people about the last release Anthrax has out For All Kings.
Deep into a hot summer Friday night and no better way to spend it but at Chicago Open Air Megadeth burst onto the stage and the fiery Dave Mustaine busted out into a badass guitar riffed song with the epic head banging that I did get a picture of. Hello me… it’s me again. Familiar lyrics of a song that the crowd completely rocked out to. No words can explain the mega metal happiness that was happening in that crowd. Megadeth finished their set and it was back to the moments in the crowd, how I met Josh from Chicago that let me use his phone charger to be able to continue taking pictures. So now the metal family is growing and getting to know each other. Josh was live as well to intro the next band.
Rob Zombie! Came out onto the stage and totally annihilated it as John 5 brought his skillful ass kicking guitar antics. Rob Zombie and John 5 is a straight shot of fiery moonshine, no bitch drinks here. Rob Zombie tore it up, the energy he brought to the stage was absolutely incredible. The crowd was definitely in high gear, and Rob Zombie shifted the gears. Thank you! Once Rob Zombie was off the stage the crowd conversations were how he nailed the performance and the guy standing behind me said the next band up was going to have a hard time outdoing that. I turned around and definitely put him on the spot and went live. Yes he was serious.
It was dark and hot by the time the massive Kiss curtain that hung in front of us started to move. Lights blazing, smoke pouring, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer were upon that stage as if you stepped back in time. Full make up, classic rock stances known by all Kiss fans, new and old, an epic entrance and performance. They did not fail the crowd. By this time I had requested the security guys to lift me up over the gate so I could leave. With Kiss cranking out the tunes, I made my way to the back of the field. I turned around and stood for a moment to take it all in. A priceless unforgettable moment seeing the crowd and feeling the awesome energy that went with it. I got back to the hotel room and realized I had stood at that gate for over 9 hours straight. Easily done with all the great performances I saw and great music I listened to that night.
July 15th a Saturday at Chicago Open Air started out with Cane Hill devious disciples of metal and a devilish dose of rock to satisfy an early Saturday afternoon appetite for great music. I wasn’t up front at the gate on the field, I decided to sit up in the bowl. No problems there since the audio set up provided a field full of music. Once Cane Hill ended their set, I sat back in my seat and watched the crowd. It was proving to be another day of metal music lovers uniting to enjoy a lot of phenomenal bands. Metal Church was next up on the stage and cranked out a delightful melodic sermon of heavy metal for all to hear. Once they were done with their set I decided to go for a walk. As I strolled around I stood in line for a hotdog and a beer. I was talking to a friend asking her how she was enjoying the show and we got on the subject of prices.
The guy in front of us turned around and said he thought it was somewhat expensive and when I asked him how much for the slice of pizza he had, he responded with “six bucks” and “it’s ok.” I got my beer, my fries, and my hotdog for about $13. It satisfied my hunger, and so off I went onto more walking. The vendors were pretty straight forward, set up neatly in a row off to the side. When you first got into the place from the front gate there were a few set up there, but as you walked further into the event the majority of them were on the other side between stages. I saw what looked like a row of cooling stations that blew out cooled water mists to those that couldn’t take the heat that awesome globe in the sky provided. Which brings me to the next topic, the two girls walking around topless with the glittery nipples. One woman standing by had an issue with that, and complained with a disgruntled look on her face while these girls were hamming it up for an inpromptu photo shoot with some guy that was digging their “creativity.” I say do your thing, in the end we are all here for the music, because that is what brought us here.
I sat down in a somewhat shady spot near the VIP area when I saw Weston from Michigan, and his two friends nearby talking. Three tattooed hotties (don’t judge me! They were out in the sun, and it was hot) and yes I walked right up to them and asked which band they came out to see. One of them said all of them, my opportunity to say if you like all this music then you need to listen to this station. While I was in this mode of meeting and talking music you could hear the sound of the bands on the stages rocking out. It took me to a place in my mind like I was standing at a very well put together back yard bbq, drinking beer, and talking to friends except on a huge scale. After entertaining conversations and a quick meeting with Jacob from Palatine Illinois (another metal fan), I made my way back to the main stage, except this time I sat in the very back on the top row of the bowl.
Seether came onto the stage and the sound was good from where I sat. Seether rocked out and brilliantly blasted light effects, music, and presence. At the end of their set, I decided I had enough for the day, and bailed out early to save myself for Sunday’s lineup. I missed Korn, and Godsmack, but in turn I met Ryan VanderWolk of Death Rattle and Bobby Keller of Meka Nism. Once I got back to the hotel the coolness of the room and the bleached sheets on the bed carried me away into a deep sleep.
Sunday, July 16th first up on main stage was DED. Intricate lyrical compositions with hard hitting nu metal sounds kicking your brain into over drive. Just what you need to get your Sunday up and running. Once they were done with their set that lull in the crowd before the next band set in. Next up Demon Hunter made their way onto the stage and brutally kicked some serious ass with their metal notes and serious hard hitting lyrics. I was jamming to Demon Hunter, these guys rocked that shit out! They finished their set and I waited for the next band. I had heard a lot about the next band, and was told the performance they put on is phenomenal. I was not going to miss it with all the reviews I had heard from friends that seen them.
Hellyeah made it to the stage, lead singer Chad Gray covered in blood (theatrical stuff folks!) belts out his lyrical punches on some serious topics. I do have to make a note here of what stood out to me, the performance was fantastic, but the positive words to the crowd are what caught my attention. This was done a couple times. He told us how to let go of that negativity in a metal way. If I remember correctly, just look up at the sky and get it out as loud as you can. The music is not screamo emo, (nothing at this fest was) Hellyeah’s music is a truth in a true metal death blow way. Positively metal. The set was done and they left the stage. Time for a beer!
I got to the VIP area and decided for a mixed drink. I asked the girl for a lemon drop. She asked me if I wanted it chilled, I replied with a yes. She apparently had a squirrel moment because she poured vodka into the plastic cup and handed me another cup of lemon wedges. She told me to squeeze the lemon into the drink, I was wondering how she considered the drink to be chilled, but fuck it. I went all in and slammed the shot and she took the glass of lemon wedges back. So then I asked for a girly drink, she made a fruity whatever it was and when I got back to the main stage I stood over to the side I fumbled and dropped the entire froo froo drink onto the pavement. Back to simple, go get a beer!
Once I got my beer I sat down, and the dude next to me starts talking about how his girlfriend was mad at him for being at Chicago Open Air. I asked why she wasn’t there. She doesn’t like metal was his answer. After a brief conversation his friend appeared and we talked music, that seemed to lighten the mood. I went back to the main stage and caught some of Lamb Of God’s performance. From what little I saw and heard, Lamb Of God will always be badasses. Performance, presence, the complete metal package. Once their set was done I meandered around some more. I missed a lot of bands that day, two stages, and a load of bands to keep any metalhead happy, and busy. Decisions are from one stage to the other.
In my walk and talk, I could hear Stone Sour on the main stage, and what I had realized not one stage sound interfered with the other during performances while you were standing or sitting to catch a particular band on either stage. Great work by some smart people. The best is yet to come though. I stood back at the main stage to catch the performance and hear the music I last saw live about 29 years ago. The original madman himself, OZZY! What a great performance! Boo to the chic that told me he wasn’t all that good to see live anymore! Ozzy brought his madness to the stage and Zakk Wylde shredded to seal the deal. Not one person near me had a look of regret to be there seeing this performance. I am forever grateful for the metal Gods that bestowed this awesome sauce in my cup of life!
This was a well put together metal fest, and all out head banging family get together. From the sound set up to the stages, to the metal acts brought together, the lineup was incredible. So if you have any doubts of going to one of these events I am here to tell you it is well worth the effort! I had doubts I would make it, from the tire shredding at 70 mph 45 minutes into my journey to Chicago, to the deluge of rain that poured out during my drive that brought us to a snail’s pace on the highway, it was well worth the trip! Just plan your hotel stay in advance. With a Cheshire grin, and a purr of happiness, this Motor City Kitty is telling you get to a fest, you won’t regret it!