DaBaby headlines the Headlights Festival, aimed at bringing some ‘virtual substance’ to drive-in entertainment
Also live at the music festival in Hazel Crest will be the Chosen Few DJs and gospel star Charles Jenkins.
A unique live music series has promoters booking the kind of entertainment that keeps shows going while keeping concertgoers — and the performers they want to see — healthy.
The Headlights Festival, scheduled to take place at south suburban Hazel Crest’s Cross Pointe Park (2801 West 167th St.), will be a pop-up, drive-in festival featuring live music over the course of three days starting Friday, July 24 (gates open at noon each day), while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Chart-topping rap artist DaBaby headlines the fest.
“We have no choice but to create something for ourselves in what we consider the new face of entertainment,” said Rita Lee, the festival’s co-producer. “The reason for it is music is always going be a healing force, and this is the first time the music industry has been shut down; the entertainment industry has been shut down and Harvey [Chicago suburb] was our original starting point and we proved that the concept can happen there.
• 2-9 p.m. Friday, 2-11 p.m. Saturday (with two DaBaby shows beginning at 2 and 7 p.m.), 3-6 p.m. Sunday
• Cross Pointe Park (2801 West 167th St., Hazel Crest
• Tickets, $100 to $2,500 per night
Lee and Percy Scott, her co-creator with PR Pop-Ups, organized a Mother’s Day pop-up, drive-in movie event in south suburban Harvey, which sold out.
“We understood what the market needed: a live event with some virtual substance to a social distancing entertainment event,” said Lee. “We just did it to create a better vibe than just coming to a show.”
As for Headlights Festival’s logistics, the vehicles in the Hazel Crest park will be limited to 500, while each vehicle is required to practice social distancing guidelines.
“People will get to pick their spot just like you pick the seat at a movie theater or in a regular concert,” said Lee. “If you preorder food, it’s delivered to your section, or you can bring your own; we’re giving everybody options to practice social distance how they see fit.”
Here’s the lineup: The festival’s Friday night bill, dubbed “Chosen Few DJ’s House Music and A Movie,” kicks off with a set from the legendary house music collective, followed by a screening of “Cooley High” (1975), a cult classic, coming-of-age film that was filmed in Chicago.
For Saturday, the main performer is Charlotte-based hip-hop artist DaBaby, whose song “Rockstar” (with Roddy Ricch) has topped the singles chart for much of the summer. He performs two shows, at 2 and 7 p.m. Other Saturday musicians include DJ Drama, Napalm and PatricKxxLee, who plans to perform from his native South Africa.
While some of the artists are performing virtually, DaBaby plans to perform in person, according to his management and festival officials.
As for Sunday, festival-goers should plan to revel in the music of Keke Wyatt (Sunday’s headliner); Charles Jenkins, pastor of the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago, and Keedron Bryant, the 12-year-old sensation who turned heads by singing a viral rendition of the Black National Anthem.
Jenkins, a successful gospel singer, says he’s honored to perform at the festival because he believes Chicagoans need a respite from the COVID-19 pandemic, police killings and violence within the communities.
“There has been so much bad news, and so I think this event is so special because it’s welcomed inspiration, uplift, and entertainment,” said Jenkins. “Friends have the opportunity to gather in a safe way in a space that is been exclusively designed for people to social distance.
“It’s the world’s love language of music that I believe will fill so many people up in a much-needed way right now, and so I’m excited to be a part of it to be able to hopefully be a bright spot in a series of dark moments.”
Another performer, Terry Hunter, says he was preparing for the virtual version of The Chosen Few DJs’ Chosen Few Picnic & House Music Festival, when he received a call from Lee, who asked if the group would be interested in co-headlining the festival lineup.
Hunter, like most musicians amid the pandemic, jumped at the opportunity to perform.
“She [Lee] told me the whole idea, and I thought it was incredible,” said Hunter. “Nothing hasn’t been done, especially in our city. And, for me, I’m used to being on the road in Europe, Africa, and Asia; this COVID [-19] has stopped us right in our tracks.
“It [the call to perform] was just a breath of fresh air. And the city needs this; I’m sitting up and going stir crazy in the house. I called the fellas who jumped down on it.”
Lee isn’t worried about how such an unconventional music festival is going to do because she says she’s organized similar events in the past — and ticket sales thus far prove her point.
“Taking a blank canvas and creating a beautiful event — I’ve done it several times,” said Lee.