Try to remember the first half of September because, that’s right, as of this end of this weekend, it’s going to be a quick slide into actual autumn. For all the World Series bashes and Octoberfest bacchanals that promises, it also means the female population on campus will soon be covered up with long pants and curve-hiding hoodies. So get out and work those last days of short shorts and tight tees into hot hookup opportunities during the season’s final warm weather revelry.
Killer music fests are rocking Chicago, Burlington, and Texas, and the booze will flow openly and gloriously at the multi-day (and day after) Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Comedy goes multimedia with a Simpsons concert at the Hollywood Bowl and Bill Hader co-starring with Kristen Wiig in the dark indie farce, The Skeleton Twins. Also, perhaps you’ve not noticed it but the NFL season is charging forward full-force.
Here are the 14 choicest ways to have a great time this weekend.
Riot Fest Chicago
Chicago’s annual punk-tilted Woodforkapalooza conquers Humboldt Park yet again with a line-up of what seems like every still-breathing band that’s ever been immortalized as a skateboard sticker or patch worn on torn denim vests. Jane’s Addiction, Rise Against, and Slayer headline Friday; The National, Flaming Lips, and Wu-Tang Clan top the bill Saturday; The Cure, Weezer, and Social Distortion close the show Sunday night. Throughout the weekend, diversity rules as the many, many other performers include Die Antwoord, Mastodon, Henry Rollins, Primus, Dropkick Murphys, Andrew WK, Cheap Trick, NOFX, Patti Smith, Mudhoney, and Gogol Bordello.
Chocolate Milkshake Day
Known for its power to delight, refresh, and bring all the boys to the yard, the chocolate milkshake gets its own day and we all get yet another reason to indulge in its ice cold dairy deliciousness. The first milkshake recipe on record appeared in an 1885 British newspaper and, importantly, listed a shot of whiskey among its ingredients. So honor Chocolate Milkshake Day as it was originally intended. Whether you concoct your confection in a blender, pick one up at a local ice cream parlor, or just grab an extra large fast food version, blending in booze will bring historical heft to your cold and creamy celebration.
The Simpsons Take the Bowl
The Simpsons is triumphantly rolling into its 26th season on a fresh cultural high after FXX’s massively successful Every Simpson Ever marathon and a pending one-hour crossover episode with Family Guy coming up at the end of the month. Add to this momentum The Simpsons Take the Bowl, a live performance at the Hollywood Bowl with a full orchestra playing the show’s most legendary musical moments accompanied by clips, some classic and some never before seen. Along with creator Matt Groening, vocal star Hank Azaria, special guests will belt out signature tunes from the series, including “Weird” Al Yankovic, Jon Lovitz, and Beverly D’Angelo. Conan O’Brien says he’ll grace the crowd with “The Monorail Song”, which he wrote in 1993. Fireworks follow.
Grand Point North
With the University of Vermont, Burlington College, and Champlain College (along with nearby St. Michael’s College) all within a few moose tracks of one another, every weekend in Burlington, Vermont brims with parties, music, food, and rollicking public gatherings. The Grand Point North music festival provides a focal point for all that energy this weekend, with eighteen bands playing over two days. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals headline both nights. On Saturday, they’re supported by Lake Street Drive, The War on Drugs, and Lucius. Sunday’s line-up includes Trampled by Turtles, The Devil Makes Three, and Dr. John.
The Skeleton Twins
Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, SNL’s brightest stars of the past decade, add a standout notch to their so far pretty odd movie careers by playing fraternal siblings in the definitively odd indie comedy, The Skeleton Twins. The plot opens with the brother and sister surviving separate suicide attempts on the same day, and then follows them as they figure out, alone and together, what to possibly do next. Hader has yet to carry a hit film on his own and Wiig, after Bridesmaids, has starred in numerous zero-impact direct-to-video titles leagues away from what looked to be like a career in blockbusters. The Skeleton Twins may well be the little movie that establishes them as big forces on the big screen at last.
Utopia, Texas hosts a weekend festival that attempts to live up to the locale’s name by offering music, disc golf, yoga, free camping, and something called “silent disco.” It also boasts “no music overlap”, meaning that you won’t have to choose to watch any one act over another. Friday’s roster includes GZA with Brownout, Aaron Behrens and the Midnight Stroll, Grateful Grass, Father John Misty, Wheeler Brothers, and Sour Bridges. Saturday supplies sets from Billy Joe Shaver, Benji Hughes, Wild Child, Kishi Bashi, Warpaint, Cold War Kids, and Dan Deacon.
National Video Games Day
In addition to high-tech wide-screen game set ups at home and infinite playing possibilities on every PC hookup, even the weakest smartphone provides more interactive fun options than a combined mass of all the old-school arcades in the world ever could. How then to celebrate National Video Games Day? Well, in the midst of “Gamergate” and crusading busybodies bellyaching about non-game-related issues at the drop of an 8-bit, the greatest tribute to be paid to the definitive entertainment pastime of the 21st century is to simply plug in, power up, and play—all day, all night. We may be doing that anyway, but September 12 at least provides a name for it.
Dodgers at Giants
Occupying the AL West’s first and second places respectively, the Dodgers head to the Giants’ home turf with playoff potential heating up California’s most enduring and storied rivalry. This weekend’s three game series kicks off with each team sending its strongest pitcher into battle: Hyun-Jin Ryu for L.A., Madison Bumgarner for San Francisco. The ensuing rumblings may not (necessarily) be earthquakes.
Monster Energy drink’s Aftershock fest storms Sacramento, California with a two-day onslaught of heavy-hitting hard rock. Weezer, the Offspring, Limp Bizkit, Awolnation, Bad Religion, Black Label Society, and Memphis May Fire are the standout on Saturday. Rob Zombie, Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, Rise Against, Seether, Mastodon, and Pennywise bombard the crowd on Sunday.
Hooters to Hooters Race
How often have you left Hooters with the immediate desire to hightail it right back to Hooters? Clearwater, Florida provides an opportunity to live that dream in athletic style with 5K and 10K races that start and end at the original Hooters restaurant. Proceeds benefit the Algeria’s Kickin’ for Kids charity, and runners will be rewarded with hot Hooters food and (pay attention) free beer.
The race’s official website boasts: “In 2013, we went through nine kegs!” See if you can help push it to ten this year.
Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300
The Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois welcomes the fun and furious Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300 NASCAR race. Kyle Busch will drive to defend his 2013 Freaky Fast crown; other racers include Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Aric Almirola, and Josh Wise. Pre-race entertainment will be provided by local longhairs the Lounge Puppets, who mount a colorful tribute to ’80s glam metal favorites.
Robin Yount Bobblehead Giveaway
The Brewers honor an all-time great in wobbly-noggin toy form with a bobblehead tribute to Hall of Fame shortstop Robin Yount, who spent his entire twenty-year career in Milwaukee. While the Brewers are in no great shape with the post-season approaching, they’ll be playing the Cincinnati Reds, who are being kept out of the NL Central basement only by the reliably underachieving Chicago Cubs. So go to the game for your Robin Yount bobblehead, enjoy some dogs and brews with your Robin Yount bobblehead, and then drive home safely so as not to injure your Robin Yount bobblehead.
Sunday Football Gets Serious
Any NFL team not playing on Thursday (Steelers vs. Ravens) or Monday (Eagles vs. Colts) will be on the field for the first full-strength Sunday of the 2014 season. Games to extra pay attention include the Patriots at the Vikings, the Seahawks taking on the Chargers, and the Bears against the 49ers. Really, it’s not like you had any other plans, dude.
FIBA World Cup of Basketball Finals
The USA is all set to take on either France or Serbia on Sunday for the title of the best basketball team in the world. Most people were expecting Spain to waiting for us, but France’s surprise win has got US fans pretty much chalking up a win already.
Depending on how the game goes, I’m hoping Faried gets the MVP. Manimal has been destroying the competition.