Since 2007, over a three day weekend at the end of every August, downtown Skokie transforms itself into an entertainment venue like no other in the Village. In 2019, record crowds took advantage of beautiful, cool sunny days, relaxing and thrilling to original live music, and enjoying the spectacular transitory amusement park that filled in and around other attractions over a four square block area, effectively closing down a major county thoroughfare for four days.
Three music headliners highlighted the Bash, representing a return to the past for two generations of Skokie residents. On Friday, Chicago power pop rockers Material Issue brought the largest crowd in the history of the Bash for an opening act. The tight ‘90s outfit left it all on the stage, putting the night’s headliner on notice that only great performances would be acceptable to the massive Skokie crowd.
The Smithereens, operating without their original vocalist, came out with ‘80s legend Marshall Crenshaw filling that role, and left no one disappointed. The band played all of their hits and many more, cramming enough blistering rock-and-roll into a 90 minute set to satisfy even the toughest Skokie lawn chair critics.
“I came down just to see Marshall Crenshaw,” said Ralph Giammarco of New Berlin, Wis. “Neither he nor The Smithereens disappointed. I cannot believe that this musical festival is free.”
After a stellar lineup of jazz, blues, folk rock and pop, on Saturday during the day, California ‘70s band WAR hit the stage right after dark, playing to yet another crowd bursting at its street festival seams. The band proceeded to play one of the greatest sets the festival has ever seen, pulling out every funk rock classic in their catalogue, finishing with the mighty groove “Low Rider,” which they jammed on for more than ten triumphant minutes.
Chicago’s select studio musicians, Tributosaurus, finished off the Bash on Sunday with their spot-on take on The Rolling Stones, with yet another huge crowd looking on.
The Bash’s carnival rides served thousands due to the perfect weather, the bingo tent played to an overflow of gamers, and family events at the library also drew big crowds. Sunday’s classic auto show, the Sunday pancake breakfast and Saturday’s Backlot Dash were also triumphant. (See the race results here.)
If the weekend proved nothing else, Skokie’s Backlot Bash crowds are getting bigger and the music is getting better, giving downtown Skokie one of the north shore’s most happening summer events.