Jens Kidman of Meshuggah

Jens Kidman of Meshuggah performing at Chicago Open Air 2016

The 1st Annual Chicago Open Air Festival Rocks the S*-T out of Chicagoland

July 15th-July 17th, 2016

By:  Coren E. McLeod


With summer weather, there comes a requirement for all music fans out there:  You must make it to some sort of festival at least once in June, July or August.  We all know the big time fests that happen without a doubt each year:  Lollapalooza, Louder than Life and Coachella.

This year in the Chicagoland area, forces united to bring together a hell of a large MONSTER of an event that no one would ever forget!  The 1st Annual Chicago Open Air Festival came in roaring in on its devils wing and left a blaze behind it!

Chicago Open Air took place in Bridgeview, Illinois at Toyota Park.  This was my 1st time at this particular location for such a big occasion.  I was so fortunate that this time around I was going to be working with a few others from UnRated Magazine.  Dan and Adam are talented photographers and also the ones which started the magazine.  I was very happy I was able to just do interviews those days.

With this being a very competitive few days with all the media people surrounding each other, I knew UnRated Magazine had to bring some sort of edge to the plate.  That is where my aggressive and feisty attitude would help to land more interviews with the bands.  Plus, I was kind of doing something that most journalists would not dare to do.  I tend to live life as it happens.  So, I was doing Live Facebook Feeds throughout the day to give all my friends/fans on my page a true look into my interviews.  That worked out so well.

I am literally going to say working for this magazine fucking kicks ass!!!!  Seriously, I may get frustrated when it is hot outside, I am sweating and I am not able to get a good shot.  However, I know I should not complain.

I was at #ChicagoOpenAir for Saturday and Sunday starting at 11 am.  It took me about an 1 ½ to get to Bridgeview from Richmond, IL.  Hell, there were a few tolls that I missed (thank goodness I can pay online) and it was a pain getting out at night.  Yet, I can say, I am happy with all the interviews I conducted throughout the 2 days.

I wanted to go over and give some insight into some of the interviews I had throughout the weekend.  There are more on my FB page.  Plus, check out UnRated Magazine and UnRated Metal for more as well.

My 1st one was with Minnesota’s own City of the Weak.  Unfortunately, my dumb ass did not catch their performance.  However, thanks to Google Play, I was able to listen to their music.  City of the Weak were awesome.  Each member was simple and to the point when I asked my questions during my live stream on Facebook.  What I truly loved about this group was how excited they were to be at Chicago Open Air.  The energy was alive and kicking.

Oh, the wonderment that is Miss May I.  Oh, Miss May I interview you?  This was such a great time considering I had no idea what was going on and I was just rolling with the punches.  I was truly having a great time speaking to the bass player Ryan Neff.  (I always get along with bass players.)  The interview turned into a conversation between friends and I loved it.

I was looking forward to speaking with the entire band Silver Snakes.  When I read up on this group of guys, I found out they were really into 90’s industrial and Depeche Mode.  That is a winning combination in my humble opinion.  So, there was one thing I learned from talking with this band as a journalist.  Make sure you avoid the question:  How did you come up with your name?  That is a sinking dark hole that I put myself in and I had to crawl myself out of right away.

I believe one of my best interviews was with the stellar Brian Steele Medina.  Right when I saw him enter into the media tent, we both made eye contact on that Sunday of the show.  I walked right up to him and said, “Hey, I have a scheduled interview with you.  I know it is going to be a great time…”

Brian looked at me with a big, old smile and said, “Yeah, girl!” Than proceeded to give me a high five.

Since Gemini Syndrome was new to me, I wanted to learn more about Brian’s brand.  I would have to say this is one of my Top 5 interviews ever since I started my gig at UnRated.  If you watch this on my FB page, I am just calm and cool with Brian.  I loved the fact that Brian is a remarkable drummer. So, that gave me plenty to ask him.  I am counting down the days where I will be able to see this stunning band again in Madison, WI on September 4th, 2016.  By that time, their new album will be out and I will be ready to get my #Syndrome on yet again!!!!

With all of the performances, I was one hell of a busy girl at Chicago Open Air.  I would like to take this time to take the time to thank all the bands I got to speak to during the festival.  I was shut down for a few (All That Remains; Gojira….  Alter Bridge…  Hey, I tried….) I got to hug some of my favorites (Jonny from Nothing More and OMG David from Disturbed…!)  And speak to Adam Gontier again.  If I could have gotten Breaking Benjamin to sit down with me that would have been epic.

With over 75,000 that attended Chicago Open Air that weekend, it is safe to say that this festival will be going strong for a while.  This event was done so well with a fantastic line up, enormous food offerings and a craft beer selection that was worthy; I know I will want to cover Chicago Open Air again next year.  So, let us take a bow and throw the goat to all those that participated.  The journey for

has just begun….  Till next year folks!!!!