Sep 4, 2012


With the country's oldest outdoor music venue in our backyard, GABROEN decided to go to Ravinia Park at least once this summer concert season. It has been the summer home of the Chicago Symphony for over 75 years, and last year we went there three times, for the Gypsy Kings (great show), for Tony Bennett's 85th birthday concert (endearing show) and for Carrie Underwood (very popular show for teenage Carrie wanna-bees, and there are many of them).

There is something odd about Ravinia. It's probably the only venue where most people cannot actually see the stage. There's a pretty big, outdoor roofed pavilion with 3,200 seats around the stage like an amphitheater. And then there is the lawn, where thousands and thousands cramp into a dense quilt pattern of blankets, lounge chairs, folding tables, picnic baskets, coolers, and even an occasional potable stereo brought from home to play some music during the show. Because the people with the lawn tickets do not necessarily come for the performance, they come for the massive communal picnic as if it were a midsummer rite. Not only is the stage invisible from the lawn, if you have a lawn ticket you cannot hear the music either, because of an outdated sound-system that is easily overpowered by the chatter of the picnic crowds and the flocks of locusts and cicadas that do their own performance in the park's trees.

So last year, with the pleasant experiences of lawn seats with stage-view in Atlanta's Chastain Park amphitheater still fresh in mind, and many locals explaining to us that the Ravinia lawn seats are the most popular, GABROEN booked lawn seats for each of the three shows. We strategically positioned ourselves right in front of the single videoscreen that was set up on the lawn for The Gypsy Kings as well as Tony Bennet, and although not perfect, it made it feel like a hip and relaxed drive-in movie theater. To our surprise, the video screen was nowhere to be seen at Carrie Underwood's show, and there we even saw people camped out on meager patches of grass behind the restrooms. Far out of reach for the speakers, in the dark between a brick wall and the park fence, it didn't make a lot of sense to us.

Anyway, the 2012 season continued the trend of not bringing out a video screen on the lawn, so GABROEN decided to get pavilion seats from now on. This year, just before the season comes to a close early September, we went to see a modern dance by MoMix, called 'Botanica'. This group of 10 dancers had a brilliant way of using costumes to introduce plants, flowers, bugs, wasps, critters, horses and even a Brontosaurus into the performance. We had a blast.

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