Summer on Southport, aptly abbreviated SOS, needs help since it doesn’t know what kind of festival it is. Claiming to be for kids, the majority of its featured bands are inappropriate for children as well as a residential neighborhood in which the festival takes place.
As SOS reemerges this weekend, it marks the 10th Annual Children’s Festival. As in years past, the two-day event focuses on kids activities with a balloon artist, face painting, a rock wall, an inflatable obstacle course, a jump house and mini golf. Stages offering kids pop (Ralph’s World) and a Disney-inspired set are provided as well as performances by classicaly-trained Southport Arts Conservatory students.
But that’s where the children’s music ends. For no apparent reason, the fest also includes a mixed bag of bad cover bands targeted at middle-aged attendees who must be drunk and/or sun-stroked to deem the mediocre music cool, especially when the pedestrian Top 40 songs (that were none too good even when played by the originators in the ’80s and ’90s) are recreated by musicians who couldn’t make it on their own merit.
Managed by Star Events, Summer on Southport’s old “New Wave” cover bands offer nothing unique to the fest since they can be seen (and unfortunately, heard) at other festivals, also managed by Star Events, all over town.
On the bright side, the festival welcomes the Second City Training Center as they reenact favorite Second City sketches. Like the festival’s Gospel Brunch, Second City is an interesting example of Chicago’s indigenous culture. These two groups offer some much-needed personality to an otherwise generic lineup of live “entertainment” presented by SOS planners too narrow-minded and/or lazy to acknowledge the breadth of talent that exists outside the world of retro rock.
Imitating hair metal bands is Hairbanger’s Ball, the festival’s most out-of-place group. Disrespectful to area-residents, the band went past its 10:00 pm close last year. And one of the non-corset-wearing Hairbangers used the f-word, which is obviously inappropriate for an outdoor venue set in a neighborhood, let alone a festival for kids. After all, there is a time and place for everything and the place for a metal band is in an enclosed stadium far from residential addresses, just as the time for such a band is, oh a few decades ago, say in the 20th century.
Summer on Southport benefits the Southport Neighbors Association (SNA), not to be confused with the actual Southport neighbors—many of whom are driven from their homes from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm on Saturday and 11:00 am to 9:00 pm on Sunday due to the loud noise, off-key singers and off-color comments emanating from the festival’s stages.
To date, complaints about noise from tax-paying residents have been squelched by the SNA, which justifies its less than discerning band selection with the excuse that the festival is “for charity.” But since charity begins at home, the SNA should consider having Hairbanger’s Ball play at their house next year and leave Southport to enjoy its summer sans the unwanted sounds from unoriginal, outdated bands.