For those of us that braved the harsh Chicago winter to make it out to The Empty Bottle’s Winter Block Party, the reward was well worth the frozen fingers and toes.

The afternoon of “Music Frozen Dancing” kicked off with HoZac sweethearts Heavy Times. Joined by some mid-day sun, they powered through a energetic set of their brand of well-crafted punk rock. The crowd began to forget the cold and even some of the younger punk rockers came out to see the festivities.

The afternoon sun began to fade as Nashville’s Diarrhea Planet took the outdoor stage. This was the second time I’ve experienced Diarrhea Planet and it was even more explosive this time around. Imagine an army of high energy dudes with Fender guitars and hearts full of rock and roll history and you’ve got DP.

Half-way through their set the sun was now gone and the snow began to come down. That didn’t stop the crowd from moshing around the icy streets outside the Bottle.

The band kept the crowd engaged and even brought up “The Least Punk Person” in the crowd for a brand new 45 second song “Anybody Can Be Punk Rock”. The lucky “punk” got to rant into a mic about the White Sox while the band provided a wall of noise behind him.

The weather was in full force at this point. Snow was coming down in sheets and the 3-4 hours standing on cold pavement was starting to set in. Snow flakes filled the merch table but that didn’t stop me from picking up an adorable Diarrhea Planet tee & their new LP.

Luckily Marnie Stern and her band wasted no time tuning up and taking the stage. Before she even strummed a chord, she told the crowd they were all “Crazy Mother Fuckers” for coming out to this thing.

This set was the most intimate Marnie I’ve ever seen, and also the coldest. She joked around even more than usual with the sheer absurdity of an outdoor winter concert in Chicago of all places.

Between dropping picks in her beer, she finger-tapped her way through tracks from her last two albums. Towards the end of the set you could tell that even Marnie wanted to get out of the cold and into someplace warm.

Almost instantaneously, the crowd dispersed after the show in and headed towards their cars or inside the Empty Bottle to warm up with a few drinks. Our frozen toes headed back home and didn’t fully thaw out until about half way through the car ride.

This experiment with outdoor music in the Chicago winter was actually quite a success. People came out in droves to the free block party and truly enjoyed their time there. Everybody that agreed to perform at this deserves a hug, and maybe a Hot Toddy.

After all this Polar Vortex crap I think the city has collectively decided that we still have to go out and have a good time. Old man winter will always take a back seat to some good live music.

Marnie Stern | Diarrhea Planet | Heavy Times | The Empty Bottle