It’s the one day of the school year every college student forgets about that looming lab or impending essay, and celebrates the end of a long, cold winter and subpar spring. It’s also a source of constant competition and one-upping, so North by Northwestern showed up at both Dillo Day and the University of Chicago’s Summer Breeze Carnival to see which Chicagoland school could claim the title of best end-of-the-year celebration.
The rain put a damper on the University of Chicago’s annual Summer Breeze Carnival, which was meant to be a full, sunny Saturday’s worth of outdoor festivities. Due to the weather, the entire festival was moved indoors and became more of a “Summer Freeze,” with temperatures in the low 50s and rain throughout the day.
The festival was held in the gorgeous Reynolds Club, which despite stunning Gothic architecture was definitely more Cambridge than Coachella. The building was overcrowded and cramped, with long, confusing lines and clusters of people blocking entrances and narrow hallways, creating a claustrophobic experience.
To even out the score, Mother Nature also drenched Dillo Day-goers with a series of showers that lasted throughout the afternoon. Regardless, everything was still held outdoors, which led many people to leave right before Chiddy Bang’s rain-soaked set. The overall vibe of Dillo Day was also much more festival-like, a plus in the beginning of the day when the weather was a good 20 degrees warmer and required only the sheerest of cardigans to protect festival-goers from the Lakefill chill.
Summer Breeze featured a free lineup of entertainment ranging from student a cappella and dance groups to face painting, caricatures and a mechanical bull ride. There was even a photo booth and a make-your-own flip book station, which both had extraordinarily long lines. What was worth the wait though was all the free food from vendors like Honest Tea and Jamba Juice. Additionally, there were also carnival classics like burgers, deep-fried Twinkies and cotton candy as well as an ice cream truck with everything from classics like Drumsticks to the elusive gas station-only Choco Taco.
Dillo Day, on the other hand, only offered a scant array of ordinary, dining hall-quality food that people could purchase with cash or Dillo Bucks, including pretzels, nachos and burgers. On the bright side though, IFC, Panhellenic and SAAC did hand out free pizza to a long line of hungry concert-goers, who could then wash it all down with free bottles of Honest Tea and VitaminWater as well as free ice cream on the soccer field. Activity-wise, Dillo Day stepped it up with booths where festival-goers could do hookah and get henna tattoos, as well as make hemp bracelets, tie-dye and play video games.
Winner: Tie (UChicago for food, NU for activities)
Due to the weather, UChicago’s evening concert was also moved indoors at the last minute into a formal, seated performance hall, and many student tickets were cancelled because of the new venue’s small size. This created a last-minute rush for people searching for wristbands and posting on the Facebook event page and LikeALittle to find tickets.
Despite all this, the show itself was fantastic with a solid lineup that featured a wide range of performers to suit every musical taste and persuasion. Artists included glitch-y, electronic duo Crystal Castles, indie rockers The Walkmen, rapper Wale and mash-up artist Milkman, as well as a special surprise appearance by Chicago Bulls player and local South Side legend Derrick Rose.
And while Dillo Day didn’t feature any surprise celebrity appearances, that didn’t detract from the great lineup which included rapper B.o.B, alternative hip-hoppers Chiddy Bang, indie rockers The New Pornographers and Peter Bjorn and John for this year’s show. Providing a different, chilled-out atmosphere, Dillo Day didn’t feel too overwhelmingly crowded and overpacked like UChicago’s show did and proved that Mayfest did a fantastic job booking and planning this year’s acts and events.