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The new Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements festival presents Dan Deacon, Shellac, and some actual clowns

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A Hawk & a Hacksaw

A Hawk & a Hacksaw

Louis Schalk

Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements: Dan Deacon, Shellac, and some actual clowns

Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements, a new circus- and Vaudeville-themed arts and music festival, debuts this weekend (Fri-Sun 9/16-9/18) in Eckhart Park at Chicago and Noble. Created by Mike Reed (the local jazz drummer who also produces the Pitchfork Music Festival), it's three days of strangeness filled with live music, circus performances, carnival rides, and sideshows. Access to the grounds is free, but most of the festival's big-name entertainment will cost you. Each night features a $20 rock show in the Criss/Cross Tent, with "doors" at 5 PM. Friday's lineup, headliner first, is Bill Callahan, Sidi Toure , Bomba Estereo , and Cave; Saturday's is School of Seven Bells, A Hawk & a Hacksaw , Charles Bradley, and Dark Dark Dark. Local heavy hitters Shellac headline on Sunday, with support from A Lull, Dan Deacon, and Fool's Gold . Luckily for the less solvent, the outdoor Birdhouse Stage hosts free all-day concerts on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 1:30 PM. Saturday's Birdhouse lineup is Albanie & Her Fellas, Squat the Condos, the Lonesome Organist, Bone & Bell, and Dolly Varden, while on Sunday it's Cloudbirds, Hollows, the B.S. Brass Band, Paul Cary & the Small Scarys, and Magic Carpet. The other main paid attraction at the festival, a tent dubbed Magic City, hosts posse after posse of clowns, jugglers, aerialists, acrobats, and magicians on all three days—including El Circo Cheapo, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, and George Orange. Tickets are $15 per performance, and the tent will be cleared after each set. The Renegade Craft Fair will be set up on-site throughout the fest, and a farmers' market will run from noon till 6 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements opens at noon each day, and proceeds from the Magic City tent will benefit local nonprofits, including the Chicago Independent Radio Project and Coat Angels. Beauty Bar hosts a free kickoff party for the festival at 10 PM on Fri 9/16 with DJ sets from Giroscopia, Christian Vera, and Ron Solera. For more info, check Fairs & Festivals listings by day or visit

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