Earlier in the month, Mayor Thomas McDermott and City of Hammond officials released a humorous promotional video to publicize the upcoming Festival of the Lakes. A Region tradition, the festival promises five nights of food, fun, carnival rides, and a slew of awesome musical performances to cap off the evenings. McDermott and his crew knew the festival deserved a proper level of hype, and they pulled out all the stops with their video. Judging by the success of the event’s first evening, the Festival of the Lakes 2018 is more than living up to its hype.
“The lineup is incredible this year,” McDermott said candidly. “Every year, it’s hard for us to top the previous year, and I feel like we did it this year. We track ticket sales from year to year; this year, we’ve topped previous years on almost every single night.”
The Festival of the Lakes takes place in Wolf Lake Memorial Park in Hammond. The park on its own is remarkable, but to see it blossom into a bustling, colorful carnival, complete with rides, neon concessions booths, and pontoon rides on the lake is spectacular. The cherry on top of this summer sundae is the headlining entertainments that take the stage on The Pavilion at Wolf Lake Memorial Park, newly expanded to include a bowl that seats or stands 2,000 to 3,000 people.
“On the back side of the bowl we made a bridge over Calumet Avenue and we added ticket booths,” McDermott said of the changes made to the park. “So everything’s a lot more secure, it’s a lot easier to get over Calumet, and [the bowl] gives us the ability to seat more people for our concerts. I’m excited! This is our first night in this brand new venue.”
On opening night, the featured acts were Tone Loc, Color Me Badd, and Grandmaster Flash.
Tone Loc is best known for the hip-hop tracks “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina.” When his gravelly voice hit the microphone, the crowd immediately responded enthusiastically. Tone Loc possesses a knack for irreverence in his delivery, and his relaxed confidence set the tone for the evening.
Tone Loc even invited some audience members onstage to dance, among them a few children.
“Man, I love kids who have heart!” Tone Loc said.
The smooth R&B stylings of Color Me Badd, ahem, heated things up even more. One of the original “boy bands” (only with less of the saccharine overtones of N-Sync and more sultry lyrics,) the group harmonized with ease and embellished their performance with some choreography. Color Me Badd is best known for the hits “I Wanna Sex You Up,” “All 4 Love,” and “I Adore Mi Amor.” The multi-cultural trio also incorporates some Spanish into their lyrics.
“Alright, guys, let’s all take a trip back to the ‘90s,” one of the singers joked, much to the audience’s delight, before jumping into one of their hits.
Top headliner Grandmaster Flash may be a throwback to the earliest days of rap and hip-hop, but his tracks are unmistakable and colloquial. Grandmaster Flash has been hailed as “Hip Hop’s first virtuoso,” and he is widely credited with shaping the genre. His iconic beats and loops are still noticeable in today’s music, and his honest lyrics also helped pioneer the rap genre. The artist incorporated a lot of fascinating visual elements into his performance, with a constant video commentary providing support to his beats.
“What you just heard was a collection of songs I’ve collected over the last 48 years,” Grandmaster Flash said after a track compilation. “What’s interesting about those songs is that I don’t know them by the melody or the artist— I know them by beat.”
The audience’s reaction to Grandmaster Flash’s stage presence proves that his cultural relevance is very much alive. The crowd moved to the beat and sang along with the words as they filled Wolf Lake Pavilion.
The Festival of the Lakes is off to a rousing start, and it’s only going to get better as the week goes on. If you missed the first night of the soulful fun, never fear. You have 4 more nights of festivity to choose from, and each night promises its own collection of amazing musicians.
“The fest isn’t just about the music,” McDermott said. “We’ve got the golf outing tomorrow, we’ve got the 5K, we’ve got the Fishing Derby, Polka Mania…The 5K’s named after a friend of mine that passed away too young, Kathleen Pucalik. Every year, she and I would run a 5K and she’d always beat me.”
Upcoming headliners include modern Chicago band Chevelle on July 19, the ever-mellow Sublime with Rome on July 20, rap artist Nas on July 21, and traditional Latin performers Banda Carnaval on July 22. Don’t miss Festival of the Lakes 2018, the quintessential summer experience!