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NextImg:The Black Crowes make the most of muggy Chicago day with greatest hits — albeit abbreviated — set for NASCAR festival

Two years into their full reunion tour, the amicable-again Brothers Robinson brought their Southern rock-meets-blues gumbo to NASCAR Street Race Weekend as the featured entertainment prior to The Loop 121 Series Race.

Like the JC Brooks Band earlier in the day, The Black Crowes started their set late and also cut it abruptly, only offering 40 minutes of the hour slated for their set.

The Black Crowes play a set at the NASCAR Chicago Street Race festival on Saturday, July 1, 2023 in Chicago.

Music fans weather a sweltering afternoon in Grant Park to take in a set by The Black Crowes at the NASCAR Chicago Street Race festival on Saturday.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Whether it was the oppressive muggy humidity and lingering air smog from earlier this week causing technical issues or perhaps just rushed production, there was a dominant feeling that music was the afterthought or live commercial break of this inaugural racing event.

As it is, only three bands play Saturday, two on Sunday, leaving lots of dead air time that could have been filled with more acts to keep the festival vibe in high gear. (Showcasing Chicago’s local music scene in addition to The JC Brooks Band would have been perfect for this). Even the sportscaster voices narrating the practice and qualifying race rounds on the Jumbotrons nearby sounded louder than the plugged-in music acts.

Sven Piping (left) and lead singer Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes play a set at the NASCAR Chicago Street Race on Saturday, July 1, 2023 in Chicago.

Sven Piping (left) and lead singer Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes play a set at the NASCAR Chicago Street Race on Saturday, July 1, 2023 in Chicago.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

“Here’s a hot and sticky song for this hot and sticky day,” singer Chris Robinson shared with the crowd as the band ripped into “Soul Singing.” Though the amount of people in the park had grown since The JC Brooks Band took the Mobil 1 Stage at noon, the leagues of people wiping sweaty brows with bandanas or taking respite in any shade to be found on the Lakefront Green area modeled an overall sluggishness that was visible everywhere in the festival area near Buckingham Fountain and beyond on Saturday afternoon.

The Black Crowes filled in the gaps, however, with their high-energy revelry, making the most of their punctuated set list and grooving to a good assortment of their decades-long catalog, though, they primarily focused on their 1990 Midas touch record, “Shake Your Money Maker.”

They ripped into “Jealous Again” with a long guitar solo from Rich Robinson, shimmied away at “Twice As Hard,” and played a rollicking version of “that Otis Redding song we do,” as Robinson said, to introduce “Hard to Handle.” As it wrapped, the number blended perfectly into the plucky acoustics of the eternal hit “She Talks to Angels.”

Bolstered by bassist Sven Pipien, drummer Brian Griffith, keyboardist Eric Deutsch, guitarist Nico Bereciartua and backing vocalists Mackenzie Adams and Leslie Grant, The Black Crowes also curiously added in a setlist one-off with the bit more obscure “Go Faster,” a probable nod to the event at hand.

In the end, their full Hollywood Casino Amphitheater Show in 2021 was a far better display of the band’s indelible talent.