Chicago may be in the midst of a record-breaking cold winter, but that has yet to deter the dedicated music fans of Cody Simpson and Jake Bugg from queuing for long hours in hopes of getting a front row spot.
In Lincoln Park on Jan. 29, a block-long line is already beginning to form in front of Lincoln Hall. Cody Simpson, an Australian teenage pop singer and heartthrob, is playing an acoustic set that night. It is 3 p.m., and the girls at the front of the line have been in the cold since noon. Doors were to open at 6 p.m. The security guards have not even come out yet—it’s still too early for their shift.
“I have frostbite on my toes. I know I do,” said Dominique DeFillippis, 15. She and her friends have stayed outside all day, but now they have created a new plan—one will hold their spot while the others duck into CVS to warm up.
The love of Cody Simpson’s fans—the most dedicated call themselves Cody’s “Angels”—is all-encompassing and transcends common sense.
“We would do anything for him,” said Katie Sanders, 16. “He’s such a genuine artist and a gentleman.” She wears only a pair of leggings and a North Face.
At the front of the line, mother Barb Travis is saving her daughter’s spot. Behind her, there are fold-out chairs with foot mats below and extra blankets piled on top. Her daughter Jamie, a high school sophomore, walks up and discusses all her layers—tights, jeans, and snow pants on the bottom, and a long sleeve shirt, sweater, windbreaker, and ski jacket on top. Her face, the only exposed skin, is still red.
Jamie is lucky enough to be able to shed her layers and hand them off to her mom, who isn’t going to the show but will go out to dinner with another mom instead. Barb took off work to take Jamie into the city, and Jamie took off school. The pair got in line at 10:30 a.m.
“It’s her first time meeting him and getting a picture with him, so it’s a special occasion. We just have to dress smart to do it,” Travis said. Jamie spent the $150 for a V.I.P. ticket, which comes with a Meet and Greet, photo-op, and autograph.
Statistically, it isn’t the coldest day Chicago has seen—the city has had 19 days with subzero lows—but it is still dangerous. While temperatures dip to the single digits, the wind chill easily rests below zero. Frostbite can set in within ten minutes of exposure, but these fans don’t care.
On the other side of the city, another group of girls are huddled around the entrance of the Riviera Theater in efforts of escaping the snow and arctic wind. This time, it’s for young British folk rocker Jake Bugg. The fans are a little older, and a little more seasoned.
“[Lining up early] has only assured me that I will definitely get a good spot,” said Alyssa Alamillo, 18. “[The cold] hasn’t discouraged me once. I just wear extra layers.”
Enter 18-year-old Jennifer White, a Texas native following Jake Bugg on tour during her winter break. By the end of her journey, she will have attended 10 of Bugg’s shows. She waits in line for hours before the show, and waits hours after in hopes of catching Bugg’s eye before he climbs on his tour bus—no matter the weather.
For White, the experience has become to mean more than just a good show—it’s an outlet. “I have been [depressed] for the past few years, but today I thought about it and I haven’t felt one bit depressed since these trips,” she said.
She wears an Arctic Monkeys beanie, the band that first inspired her to travel alongside a music act. In her mitted hand, she holds posters she painted herself to hold up for Bugg to see while he plays her favorite song.
“You get the thrill of traveling to places you have never been before, meeting new people and seeing if your favorite rock star will finally remember you,” White said.
Other Chicagoans struggle to wait four minutes for the next el train, but for the girls, waiting in line is a no brainer, a rite of passage. The prospect of having their favorite musician sing to them is worth any time spent in the ruthless polar vortex.
Lewis Watson // Ghost
This guy is one of my favorites. His songs—especially stripped down like this—always make me feel warm and a little haunted.
(also, are man ponytails becoming a thing?)
For some reason I’ve been hesitant to listen to BANKS, but now that I found this sbtv acoustic session, I’ve been blown away. So fierce and soulful. Diggin her voice, and am somehow totally enamored by the way she moves her hands while she sings.
(ok basically, she’s what I want to be).