There is not much that is better than being on the beach in Chicago on a beautiful summer day. That is, until you add Vanilla Ice. Saturday, August 11th was the perfect day for a volleyball competition and concert on the North Shore Avenue beach. Players Sport and Social Group of Chicago was celebrating their 20th anniversary and hosting their 4th annual volleyball competition, The Big Dig. This year they wanted to go above and beyond with a national throw-back act that people would recognize and love. We supplied them with the 90’s hip hop artist, Vanilla Ice, who was recently in Adam Sandler’s “That’s My Boy” and multiple reality TV shows and made him relevant with the younger generation.
The challenges included building a concert venue on the sand of North Avenue beach. We held production meetings with the client to strategize and laid plywood flooring across the sand to achieve a level stage. We handled all ground transport and travel logistics for entertainment. We also interfaced with a PR company to arrange interviews in print, TV, and Radio to promote the event. This was the first time the client had had a national act and we guided them through everything.
The set up started in the morning before the sun came up. We provided stage, lights, sound, backline, and all the crew to get it up and going. Setting up a 16 x 24 foot covered stage, complete with an eight foot long catwalk, on the sand is no small task. The crew arrived at 4:00 am to begin. They also set up a backstage green room area for the artist and we provided a list of refreshment items etc. from his rider.
At 8:00 am the artist’s manager arrived to pre-set the stage for the show and the volleyball competition began. Rob arrived at 10:00 am for a sound check and following that did a few quick interviews with local press. We had to coordinate with standard parking near the beach to allow the artist to come and go. At points in time, we worked with the Chicago park district officers to allow his car to drive all the way up to the beach to drop Rob off behind the staging area. The artist left to get ready while the event continued, including a bags tournament, a dodge ball tournament, and a hot body/bikini contest. Vendor tents were set up around the area passing out sunscreen, shots, and other souvenirs for participants to take home.
At 3:00 pm, Vanilla Ice returned, and the real party started. He was announced by a local celebrity reporter, Kelli Zink, and began his loud, Halloween-themed performance. A crowd gathered on the beach to hear their favorite, “Ice, Ice, Baby” tune as well as some of his newer tracks. There were even girls dressed up in ninja turtle outfits that were pulled up on stage to dance with Vanilla Ice. It was the perfect end to a morning of volleyball, and everyone loved him.
Our objective was to provide an artist that would draw attention to the event and would want to make guests come back in years to come. We did just that! The event drew several thousand people. There were more participants, more alcohol sales, and more hype surrounding the event so that it’s on everyone’s radar for next year. He was the perfect artist for the age group that attended the event and it was different and more creative than entertainment they’ve had in the past.