Did you know Jacksonville, Florida, was once the largest city in the United States by area (even if a lot of that is just swamp water and trees)? Did you know that both Lynyrd Skynyrd and Limp Bizkit are from Jacksonville? Did you know that when you arrive in Jacksonville International Airport they sell Tim Tebow T-shirts in gift shops unironically? Did you know that Southwest Airlines is starting direct service from Chicago-Midway to Jacksonville this weekend?
My parents live in Jacksonville, my sister just north on Amelia Island. I visit often. It's not the most exciting city in the country (see that skyline above? That's just about it), but the hub of northern Florida (and southern Georgia, really) has been catching up on the culinary front over the last decade and the beaches are far less crowded than downstate.
Here are five reasons to book a ticket.
1. Spring Awakening Did you have a blast last August at Lollapalooza? Well, lucky you, you can relive it all with the second installment of the Spring Awakening Festival. There's plenty of déjà vu to go around: Bassnectar, Calvin Harris, Porter Robinson, Zedd and Zed's Dead (yes, they're different) all got fists pumping on Perry's Stage in 2012. Look, there are only so many EDM acts to go around, and with Chicago now hosting four major summer fests that cater to the untz, we're bound for a bit of musical chairs. Dubstep chairs. The Soldier Field venue is apt—this fete aims for aggressive body contact. This year Spring Awakening also offers more than a dozen killer after-parties, with names like Moby, Harris, Dirty South, Nervo and Cajmere working clubs late into the night. See our complete list. Soldier Field. Jun 14, 3:30pm; Jun 15, 16 noon. 3-day pass $190; Fri $65, Fri VIP $100; Sat $90, Sun $85, Sat, Sun VIP $130. 3-day VIP sold out.
Through this weekend, we are giving away tickets to Spring Awakening. Enter to win.
2. Loops and Variations: FaltyDL and Matmos The city's free summer series Loops and Variations, which weds electronic and chamber acts in architectural music to suit the metal swoops of Pritzker Pavilion, returns with a rather stunning lineup. Kicking off the Thursday-evening events is FaltyDL, a musician who crafts thoughtful kaleidoscopic techno filled with bells and chimes for the stalwart Ninja Tune label, in collaboration with Bill Kouligas. Drew Lustman, a.k.a. FaltyDL, released the wonderful Hardcourage earlier this year. Kouligas operates the Berlin sound-art label Pan and crafts ominously pretty drones as Family Battle Snake. Expect something that sizzles, crackles and grooves. Matmos pops in on Jun 27. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion. Jun 13 at 6:30pm. Free.
ART & DESIGN
"Unfinished Business: 21st-Century Home Economics." Frau Fiber, the Chicago Coalition of Household Workers, UIC's Center for Urban Economic Development and other artists, organizations and institutions create interactive experiences celebrating early home economists' efforts to secure healthy food, fair labor practices and childcare for all. Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. 10am–4pm.
Cosmix: Daft Punk: A Multimedia Mixdown Cosmix resident DJ Greg Haus and guest Chess toast the release of Random Access Memories, the new disco opus of America's favorite French robots, Daft Punk. Expect remixes, videos and deeper cuts from Thomas Bangalter. We're curious to see them try to chop and drop "Fragments of Time," the super Doobies-ish yacht rock track on the new record. Berlin. 10pm. $5, before 11pm free.
"Welcome to the Universe." The Grainger Sky Theater's second screening to be made in-house takes you a billion light years away and back to Earth, where you can zoom in on landforms rendered with NASA data that's updated weekly. Much like in the domed theater's original incarnation, a live staffer helms the daily presentations. (Screens about five times a day) Adler Planetarium. 9:30am–4pm. Price including admission $28, kids $22.
Devendra Banhart His hair is the first signifier. For his new album, Mala, freak-folk man Banhart has toned down both the freak and the folk, using vintage hip-hop equipment to record his mellow California-tropicalia tunes. It's playful and lovely, finally making him a worthy heir of Caetano Veloso, with hints of dance beats and a German interlude from his girlfriend to boot. Park West. 8pm. $25.
The batch of new releases in this week's Film section includes documentarian Alex Gibney's attempt to get a handle on Julian Assange, a slippery subject, in We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke wander around Greece in the five-star Before Midnight, the third in director Richard Linklater's Celine and Jesse series. Meanwhile, Will Smith and son Jaden do their own wandering through a postapocalyptic hellscape in After Earth, the latest offering from twistmeister M. Night Shyamalan. Jesse Eisenberg channels a little Criss Angel, playing the ringleader of a gang of criminal magicians in Now You See Me, which seems like what might happen if Oceans Eleven were produced by G.O.B. Bluth.
ART & DESIGN
"Welcome Home." The NVAM unveils its new Portage Park location with this exhibition of works by Vietnam veteran Dr. Charles Smith and Iraq War veteran Ash Kyrie, who examine the disconnect between American civilians and the wars fought in their name. National Veterans Art Museum. 10am–7pm.
Harriet Reading Series: Catherine Wagner and Dana Ward Featuring presentations by poets who have appeared on Harriet, the Poetry Foundation blog, this reading series highlights innovative approaches to poetry. Wagner is the author of Nervous Device, My New Job, Macular Hole (and others). Ward wrote This Can't Be Life, The Crisis of Infinite Worlds and Some Other Deaths of Bas Jan Ader. The Poetry Foundation. 7pm.
Gertrude Abercrombie/Julia Thecla | Corbett vs. Dempsey
Corbett vs. Dempsey showcases two masters of Midwestern surrealism: Abercrombie, who churned out small paintings—barren landscapes, self-portraits—from her home studio in Hyde Park (until her death in 1977), and Thecla (1896–1973), whose magical realist paintings incorporate fairy tale–like creatures and heavenly bodies. Through June 22.
Caleb Charland: Fathom and Fray | Schneider Gallery
With his captivating pictures, Charland brings to light the unseen and manipulates the seen via multiple and long exposures and exploiting certain malfunctions in typical photographic processes. The results are often fantastical and poetic, with titles that emphasize the science-experiment vibe of his practice: e.g., Apple Trees and LEDs and Black Dots on My Palms Anywhere Lines Cross, Scanned and Inverted to Look Like Stars. Through June 29.
AfriCOBRA: Prologue — The 1960s and the Black Arts Movement | South Side Community Art Center
As part of a series of AfriCOBRA-focused exhibitions happening in Chicago through September, the South Side Community Art Center puts the influential artist collective (an acronym for African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) in context. Curated by University of Chicago students and highlighting work from SSCAC's permanent collection, the show addresses the political and socioeconomic climate that fueled the movement and illuminates the AfriCOBRA aesthetic: vibrant color, the human figure and bold lettering spelling out positive messages. Through July 7.
More art events
1. The Sklar Brothers
Randy and Jason Sklar riff off each other as only, one imagines, twin brother comics could. The May 30 show is a live taping of their sports and pop culture podcast, Sklarbro Country; the rest of the weekend they perform stand-up, with support from Nate Fridson and C.J. Toledano. May 30 8pm; May 31, June 1 8, 10:30pm. UP Comedy Club. $20.
2. Never Been to Paris
Catch your last chance to see Sean Flannery's hilarious solo show about his many brushes with death by stupidity before it goes on summer hiatus. May 30 8pm. The Comedy Bar. $10 advance, $15 door.
3. Chicago Nerd Comedy Festival
Stage 773 hosts a three-day fest celebrating the intersection of geeky and funny. Performances include Improvised Star Trek, Nerd Alert: The Game Show and "improvised video game adventure" Achievement Unlocked, among others. May 30 7, 8, 9, 10pm; May 31, June 1 7, 8, 9, 10, 11pm. Stage 773. $10.
5. Comedians You Should Know
This night of comedy, curated by a group of funny dudes, puts local stand-ups on your radar. This week Mike Lebovitz hosts Adam Burke, Kenny DeForest, Nate Fridson, Liza Treyger and Joe Kilgallon. Wed 29 9pm. Timothy O'Toole's. $5 advance, $10 door.
I have never seen the Rolling Stones perform live. I was waiting for them to reach their prime.
Ah, I kid. But seriously, I have never been able to see one of my favorite bands in the flesh, not until last night, when the British legends visited the United Center for the first of three shows. That never felt right, as if my fandom was not 100 percent legitimate. Going to a Stones concert has been on my bucket list. Well, what do you call the list of things you need to see before the things—not you—kick the bucket? My first opportunity to see the Stones was in 1989, when the rockers played Georgia Tech's football field on the Steel Wheelchairs tour, as it was jokingly referred to. My friend's dad was going, but we laughed at the notion of tagging along to watch a bunch of geezers. They were in their 40s. We saw MC Hammer instead.