No “Skeletons of Quinto?” Bah.

Every now and then, I try to divest myself of cynicism and look at things previously dismissed with an open mind. Yesterday was an example of that; I went to the “Folk and Roots” festival in Welles Park. “It can’t all sound like Peter, Paul, and Mary,” I told myself. “Some of the groups have to at least sound like the better moments from ‘A Mighty Wind.’”

When I got there, I was reminded just how much I hate street festivals. One of the greatest scams in Chicago is the street festival “admission fee.” Usually $5, the “donation” goes mostly to the promoter putting on the event, with a shockingly small fraction turned over to the host community. It’s illegal in Chicago to charge someone to walk on a sidewalk, so the admission fee is totally optional–though it’s rarely made to appear that way. And, yes, I paid to get in.

I walked up and down Lincoln Avenue, checking out the various food and clothing kiosks. If I’d planned better and hit up an ATM before the event, I would’ve had the money needed to buy a handsome handprinted Hawaiian-esque shirt, a stick of incense, and a chocolate malt. The problem with the kiosks wasn’t necessarily the volume of crap being peddled from them, it was the self-important meanderers who turned my walking around into a stinky, sweaty, human slalom. People at these events are just oblivious to others around them. I was stopped in front of, bashed into, yelled through, and spilled on–all within ten minutes time.

Having enough, I walked out into the field in the hopes of having a folkin’ good time. I was surprised to learn that the Folk and Roots festival inspired the same sort of enthusiasm as a comic book convention. At comic cons, people love to dress up in the costumes of their favorite four-color heroes and sci-fi movie idols. Similarly, Folk and Roots attendees got into the spirit by bringing their own banjos and harpsichords to play on the lawn fringes. Some mean pickin’ was going down in Lincoln Square over the weekend. Meh.

And the music on the stages? Yeah, still not my thing. I saw one group that sounded like Peter, Paul, and Mary. Another that sounded like one of the less-good moments from “A Mighty Wind.” That was enough for me. I tried. I really did. When I walked out of the event, I found myself hating both music and people. I still do, one day later. I’m hoping this will pass within a few days.

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