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Wavefront Music Festival Noise Makes Nearby Condo Dwellers 'Livid'

 Neighbors miles away were "livid" about noise coming from Montrose Beach during the 2013 Wavefront Music Festival.
Wavefront Music Festival
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EDGEWATER — "Bass vibrations" flooded lakefront condo owners and sunbathers north of Montrose Beach over the weekend as the Wavefront Music Festival blasted beats from more than 100 electronic dance music acts.

The Uptown festival kicked off a second year Friday — and was heard as far as Edgewater and Rogers Park until closing night on Sunday.

Some neighbors along the lakefront were aggravated by the unwelcome noise.

Sheli Lulkin, president of a condo owner coalition along North Sheridan Road — the Association of Sheridan Condo/Co-op Owners — lives about 2 miles north of Montrose Beach at 5100 N. Lake Shore Dr., but said "bass vibrations" washed over her and her Edgewater neighbors.

She first thought the sound was coming from a raucous next-door neighbor.

"I could hear it loud in my house," complained Lulkin.

The low drone of bass also confused beachgoers at Columbi aBeach in Rogers Park on Friday until a Chicago Park District lifeguard mentioned the festival, which is a lot bigger than it was last year.

Last year, Wavefront was a two-day, two-stage event that featured 66 acts. Wavefront 2013 bulked up to a three-day, four-stage affair featuring about 100 acts during Independence Day weekend, one of the busiest times of the summer along the lakefront.

The festival's white tents and towering stages, facing northeast along the Montrose Beach peninsula, were clearly visible from the Sheridan Road condos and Far North Side beaches.

A spokeswoman for Wavefront did not return requests for comment about lakefront residents' complaints. But Wavefront attendee Udit Ruia, of the West Loop, said he would be more sympathetic "if it was a hospital or a school that was getting disturbed,"  but he wasn't stirred by the concerns of "nearby people who are down by the beach."

Ruia advised Lulkin and others to "loosen up."

"People are having a great time, right?" asked the 26-year-old, sipping on a Bud Light tall boy between sets Saturday afternoon.

Chris Varner, another festgoer, said he understood the complaints, but that noise during summer celebrations was the norm.

"I kind of feel like they have the right to complain about it," said the 24-year-old Lincoln Square resident. "But at the same time, any neighbor, you're going to have those one or two nights out of the year where it's gonna be loud and it's going to be annoying. So they will just have to deal with it for a few days."

Carol Kimball, 63, owns a condo in a high-rise building near West Lawrence Avenue and North Marine Drive. Her living room window faces the lake and Montrose Beach. The electronic dance tunes leaking from Montrose Beach were bothersome, but would have been more bearable had they come from "a genre I actually like," she said.

"[This is] not my favorite type of music," Kimball admitted.

Her main gripe was with the heavy traffic caused by the thousands of attendees. She said Lake Shore Drive gets backed up and cab drivers let out passengers out on the Drive itself.

Kimball said she avoided her usual inline skating route along the lakefront over the weekend. 

Lulkin, whose organization represents about three dozen condo associations, said she's relayed the "livid" complaints to Ald. Harry Osterman (48th). Osterman, however, said the concert was outside his ward and out of his hands, according to Lulkin.

The office of Ald. James Cappleman (46th), whose ward includes most of Uptown, was not immediately reachable for comment.

Lulkin said she plans to make a formal complaint to the Chicago Park District's board of commissioners, while the Lincoln Park Advisory Council — of which she is a former president and current director — has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday to discuss Wavefront and other park festivals.

"The Park District makes big money off these festivals, and none of it goes back into Lincoln Park," she said of the park spanning 1,208 acres along Lake Michigan. "We’d like to get some work done in Lincoln Park every once in awhile."

Park officials were not immediately reachable for comment.