It was a nice cool summer day in the city of Chicago and the perfect day to the open the 37th annual Taste of Chicago in the cities famed Grant Park for the world’s famous largest free admission food festival.
Like in previous years the festival’s main music performers will be playing the main stage at the Petrillo Music Shell. One that features a wide and diversely phenomenal music lineup, which features a great mix of chart-topping, crowd-pleasing acts that ranges from Alessia Cara, Cafe Tacvba, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals to Passion Pitt and The O’Jays. While some of Chicago’s very best from the local music scene will be featured on the Bud Light Stage throughout the duration of the festival, which runs from July 5th-July 9th.
Judging from the very outstanding performances from Cara and local Chicagoan’s The Boy Illinois and Eryn Allen Kane on today’s opening day, it will be a hard act for the rest of the performers to not only follow, but possibly even top in the next four days.
Nearly a year after giving one of the best performances at Lollapalooza, the rising and recently certified Platinum chart-topping Cara with her backing band made a very triumphant return to Chicago’s Grant Park by blowing her performance out of the water. Opening open showing her diversity by playing and pounding the drums before she went into her chart-topping hit, Wild Things, Cara continued to show off her amazing voice and strong vocals throughout by going into such fan favorites as Here, Four Pink Walls and River of Tears. Before slowing things up a bit to go into her very amazing record, I’m Yours, the rising R&B/Pop singer would get one of her biggest ovations of the evening when she asked, “Is anybody Disney fans?” As she proceeded to go into her very inspiring and empowering motivational Lin-Manuel Miranda-penned runaway hit, How Far I’ll Go, from Disney’s animated film Moana. Which has been a huge hit on the charts since its release at the end of last October. Cara would go into a cover of her collaboration with Troye Sivan (whom she spoke very highly of), Wild, before going into her very popular coming of age single, Seventeen.
Alessia would really get the crowd involved on the next record, when she went into her #1 US pop radio hit, the very empowering woman’s anthem, Scars to Your Beautiful. Which she got the crowd to sing back and forth with her, the chrous’, “Oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh.” Saying how impressed she was with the audience’s singing along to all of her records up to that point. She would eventually close with her current summer smash hit single collaboration with record producer and DJ, Zedd, Stay. Which really got the crowd going once again and probably had it the hypest it had been all night. But would it really be her last record from her set or would she, stay? After her backing band, built the crowd up, and she left them wanting more, Cara to the surprise of many of the fans would come back with a guitar in hand to play a few last songs, including a cover of a popular band, like the one’s from YouTube that landed her, her current deal with Def Jam. Showing her very diversely talented beginnings. Cara left fans leaving the first day of the Taste very satisfied with its headling music performance.
She wasn’t the only one to put on such a great performance too though. As Chicago’s very own Eryn Allen Kane put on a pretty amazingly electrifying performance of her own on the Petrillo Music Shell stage to open up for Alessia. Performing such known records as How Many Times, the very smooth and church choir anthemic-type, Sunday, her very smooth and soothing breakout single, Slipping. Showing off her very smooth and amazing vocals that had the late great Prince give his blessing to her and even collaborate with her in 2015, nearly a year before his untimely death, Kane showed why she’s a raising force in not only the Chicago R&B/Soul music scene, but music in general right now. Even performing new fan favorite, Piano Song, which has been featured on BET’s Being Mary Jane, Kane, who is a one-time former Columbia College student like myself, shows why she has such a bright future and is a real budding superstar on the rise, whose momentum can only continue to go up from here.
The same can be said for Chicago emcee, The Boy Illinois, who put on a pretty amazingly spectacular performance of his own on the Bud Light Stage. Going through such old classics as Sell Again and Back Down. Illi of course also went into his first single since recently signing with Priority Records, the very fun and energetic, Dancing Like Diddy. Before getting introspective and closing off on a high note with such moving records as his new never before yet released record, PTSD and his very inspiringly moving, Ruling Class. An ode to his late Grandmother, as well as his family, homies and everybody else going through the systematic struggle that most go through in the inner cities of Chicago and all across the world. Like Cara and Kane, The Boy Illinois showed how powerful and moving music can still be to so many others and why despite what others say, there’s still great music from artists of this generation that will inspire and move others in much the same way like N.W.A., Public Enemy, Prince, Michael and Janet Jackson did before them. You just have to at times search and look for it more. But these rising stars really bringing such a great vibe and inspiration to so many others through music, shows it’s definitely still there and if they continue to make it, like their predecessors, it has the potential to stick in history for years to come.