Out of the blue, a public relations company asked me if I wanted to attend Country LakeShake 2019 at the Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in beautiful downtown Chicago last weekend. At first, I thought, “Why did you contact me?”
I listen to two things: podcasts about news and current events and death metal. Country isn’t really my expertise. Then, I thought my wife, Sam, likes country music, and it might be a fun time. I never have been to Northerly Island, and there might be a column in it. So, I decided to go.
I found out a good friend of mine, Christopher White, who is a professor at Governors State University where I got my master’s degree likes the group Pistol Annies, so I asked him if he wanted to go the first night, when Miranda Lambert would be featuring Pistol Annies during her performance.
It was an incredible show. Again, I don’t know much about country music, but I have been to a concert or two. I know when I see a superstar, and Lambert is it.
I didn’t know what to expect in regard to their craft beer selection either, as country music and craft beer don’t necessarily go together. We took the Metra, and Christopher and I didn’t get up to the city until almost evening. We made it just in time to see the last song of Lauren Alaina, and then waited for Lambert’s set.
We walked around the huge concert venue to look for the most appetizing food options and the best craft beer in the place. I found a vendor that had a couple of craft beer options, and I ordered the implausibly awesome offering of Revolution’s LakeShake exclusive beer.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I was elated to see a special 16-ounce can put out by one of my favorite Chicago breweries for this event.
Brewmaster Jim Cibak said, “We brewed our friends at LakeShake a really easy-drinking Golden Ale, something perfect for an outdoor music festival in the summertime.”
Brewery Manager Glenn Allen added, “It was for a country music festival, so we played it some Loretta Lynn while it was in the brewhouse. That might have helped.”
I had this LakeShake beer as well as Deschutes Fresh Squeezed tall boy can and a Wild Onion Misfit IPA the first night, and we wandered home much too late in the night. Lambert and the Pistol Annies played some special music.
Lambert has a captivating fierceness to her stage show. Her tone changes completely when Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley join her on stage. Lambert seemed to relax and truly enjoy herself in a way that seemed as though she was just gigging with her two closest childhood friends.
Lambert shared her microphone with her bandmates, which was impressive to see a true legend and superstar give stage time so freely to other artists.
The next day, Sam and I had arranged a babysitter so we could spend most of the day at the festival. We drove up because I am convinced the Metra train is the most convenient way to get downtown but definitely not the fastest route.
We parked near Soldier Field and walked. We got a chance to see the last song of Morgan Evans, all of Midland and got up close for the Brett Young and Keith Urban shows.
I was really impressed with Young and Urban, and Young has this charm and confidence of the high school star quarterback in a way I find convincing. Sam only listens to country music on the radio, so she didn’t know she liked so many of his songs. It was funny to see her eyes light up every time he got to a part she knew and realize she really liked his music.
Urban came on last and blew us away. I had heard Urban was a showman and an accomplished guitarist (remember, I listen to death metal — I thought, yeah right), but Urban can melt your face off; man, that guy can play the guitar.
He rolled one impromptu little ditty into a Willie Nelson song then bridged into “Sweet Home Chicago” in an amusing way. He is simply one of the best artists I ever have seen live, and I have seen a silly amount of live music in my life.
On Saturday, I found out 5 Rabbit had a beer on offer in 16-ounce cans, Xicago, which I was very excited to see.
We had to leave midway through Urban’s set because our babysitter wasn’t game for a 1 a.m. pick up, so we started out for home after an enchanting evening in Chicago.
Sam tried this new phenomenon of body marbling, which turned her right arm into a psychedelic rainbow, and twisted her fingers and wrist out of a rolled down window as we drove out after nightfall on Lake Shore Drive. This year’s Country LakeShake was their fifth year, and I imagine we will be back for the sixth through the rest. Cheers, LakeShake; you made a fan out of me.
There is a badge in Untappd for music venues. I imagine you could go a long way to check into Huntington Bank Pavilion with these beers to unlocking it. Actually, I might include this venue in a future article on just such a thing.
LakeShake from Revolution Brewing
ABV: 4.3 percent
Style: Golden Ale
Where to Buy: This beer only was available at the festival. A comparable offering from Revolution Brewing is Cross of Gold, which you can get in 18 packs at places such as Jewel, Berkots and others.
Xicago from 5 Rabbit Cerveceria
ABV: 4.8 percent
Style: Lager — Pale
Notes: Pale lager that tastes like summer.
Where to Buy: Crafted Bottle Shop & Tap Room in Mokena in four packs of 16-ounce cans for $9.99.
Misfit IPA from Wild Onion Brewery
ABV: 6.5 percent
Style: IPA — American
Notes: Velvety, chewy IPA with the perfect blend of hop bitterness, aroma and malt body with a bitter kick, along with a hint of citrus.
Where to Buy: Binny’s Beverage Depot in Mokena in six packs of 12-ounce cans for $9.99.
Fresh Squeezed IPA from Deschutes Brewing
ABV: 6.4 percent
Style: IPA — American
Notes: A heavy helping of citra and mosaic hops.
Where to Buy: You can find this beer plenty of places, specifically in six packs of 12-ounce cans at Liquor World in Kankakee for $10.99.