Although the Re:SET concert series attempted to redefine concerts as a fan-friendly alternative to the typical crowded concert experience, the Chicago leg of the festival drew community concerns, alder opposition and vocal protests from residents of the neighborhood.
Chicago Re:SET occurred June 23-25 at Riis Park in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood, thirty minutes north of Chicago. Headliners included Boygenius, Steve Lacy and LCD Soundsystem, who each performed Friday through Sunday with their own hand-picked lineup of established and emerging artists.
Individuals in the neighborhood complained about a lack of park access, sound pollution and limited transit options. Those concerns prompted the event’s organizers to give away 600 free tickets, host local job fairs to staff the event and offer local businesses discounted vendor spaces.
The Chicago Park District did not make a final decision on whether to grant a permit for the festival until two weeks before. Despite this opposition, fans crossed state borders and waited in line for hours for day two of the series, which included performances by Fousheé, Toro Y Moi and James Blake.
The first individuals in line were two 20-year-olds who drove for five hours across state borders before arriving at Riis Park at 11 a.m. Lacy went on nine hours later, prefaced by a diverse array of talented performers beginning with Fousheé at 4:15 p.m.
New Jersey punk rock queen Fousheé kicked off the night with wild energy and a soulful voice. Lacy and Fousheé have history — Fousheé co-wrote and contributed background vocals to Lacy’s hits “Sunshine” and “Bad Habit.”
Although the crowd didn’t know many of her songs, Fousheé kept the energy high. Toro y Moi came on next and continued to hype up the crowd with anthems that blend elements of funk, R&B and psychedelia.
Twenty minutes later, James Blake began his powerful performance, displaying strong vocals and layered instrumentals that mixed keyboard and synth.
Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for: Steve Lacy entered the stage wrapped in a cloud of smoke, wearing a long, black peacoat suit and his signature blue aviator sunglasses. He sat down at the piano for his first song, “Cody Freestyle,” before grabbing a black guitar to begin “Helmet,” an upbeat track about ending a relationship with a clingy partner.
Lacy immediately looked at home on stage and was met with roaring applause, after which he humbly introduced himself.
“Some of you may know me from The Internet, some of you may know me from the naked pictures I post on Instagram and some of you may know me as the artist named Steve Lacy.”
Behind Lacy, two stacked LCD monitors streamed graphics, switching between giant moving mouths, Lacy's lyrics and the artist himself playing the guitar in real time.
Lacy was one of the most talkative performers I’ve seen, joking about the missing submarine and trailing into a rant about how he “feels bad for ugly people.”
Regardless, he managed to cram in an astounding twenty-one songs. Early classics like “C U Girl” and “N Side” were complimented by newer hits like “Give You the World” and “Buttons.” Lacy played the majority of his new album “Gemini Rights,” a 10-song collection released in 2022 that centers around Lacy’s breakup with an ex-boyfriend. The album combines rock and R&B, funk and jazz, and psych and hip-hop.
Lacy had an excellent backing band, but they were hidden in the back of the stage. This didn’t stop their radiant energy, but I do wish they got the platform they deserved.
Lacy ended the night with two of his most popular songs, “Bad Habit” and “Dark Red,” which showcased his stellar vocals and ended a superb night of music. Despite initial challenges, the Re:SET concert series gave fans all over the Midwest unforgettable memories.