Taste of Chicago 2012 will be half as long and thus feature half as many main-stage music acts. But with tickets now charged for seats in the Petrillo Music Shell, shouldn't that mean a higher caliber of artist?
Judge for yourself: The city announced today four of the five acts scheduled to perform at this year's post-July 4 Taste in Grant Park -- Jennifer Hudson (July 11), Death Cab for Cutie (July 12), Chaka Khan (July 14) and Dierks Bentley (July 15).
A fifth performer is still TBA for July 13. The July 14 show will be a free concert for children presented by Radio Disney.
On Wednesday, the city council approved a plan to charge $25 tickets for the 3,000 seats in front of the Petrillo Music Shell. The lawn beyond, with a capacity of 30,000, remains free, as does the overall chow fest.
In years past, sight lines from the lawn have been pretty good, and the big video screen will be there this year, too. A city spokesperson said this week that the new ticketing procedures should not dictate any higher fences that would disrupt lawn viewing.
The $25 question, though: Will you pay for the up-close seats?
What the 2012 lineup lacks in variety, it mostly makes up for in quality.
Hudson surprised Taste-goers in 2008, joining fellow "American Idol" alum Fantasia. Alt-pop band Death Cab for Cutie just this week sold out two nights at the Chicago Theatre. Khan is a local R&B legend (which also translates as: ho hum). Country star Dierks Bentley might be the hottest Taste ticket.
The latter two certainly won't be competition for the indie-rock Pitchfork Music Festival, which runs the same weekend in Chicago's Union Park.
The $25 price is a bargain, too. By comparison, Bentley's arena show near Seattle this weekend costs $35 a ticket, and the two Death Cab shows this week ran $29.50-$49.50.
The city says information about how to purchase Taste music tickets will be available by mid-May.
Following its teaser announcement last month about some Downtown Sound acts and a new concert series, Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has announced the full schedule of free music this summer in Millennium Park.
The popular Downtown Series, focusing on indie-rock and pop, returns Memorial Day weekend, followed by a new slate: Loops and Variations, a series of six concerts that mix new music with electronica.
Here's the complete schedule of concerts, all of which take place in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion:
Monday, May 28, 6:30 p.m.
Kelly Hogan + Scott Lucas and the Married Men
Monday, June 4, 6:30 p.m.
Jonathan Richman + Joel Paterson and the Modern Sounds
Monday, June 11, 6:30 p.m.
The Eternals + Wild Belle
Monday, June 18, 6:30 p.m.
Cloud Cult + Judson Claiborne
Monday, June 25, 6:30 p.m.
Occidental Brothers Dance Band International + Chico Trujillo
Monday, July 2, 6:30 p.m.
Joan of Arc + Daniel Knox
Monday, July 9, 6:30 p.m.
The Sadies + James Vincent McMorrow
Monday, July 16, 6:30 p.m.
Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires + Abigail Washburn
Monday, July 23, 6:30 p.m.
Ana Tijoux + Sidi Touré
Monday, July 30, 6:30 p.m.
SMOD + M.A.K.U. Soundsystem
Loops And Variations
Thursday, June 7, 6:30 p.m.
Chris Clark, Jan Jelinek and Andrew Pekler, and Casino Versus Japan
Thursday, June 14, 6:30 p.m.
Deerhoof and Ensemble Dal Niente
Thursday, June 28, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 5, 6:30 p.m.
A Winged Victory for the Sullen and ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble)
Thursday, July 12, 6:30 p.m.
Third Coast Percussion
Sunday, August 26, 5:30 pm
John Luther Adams' Inuksuit