Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I AM Fest - 13 Jun 09

"...This [stuff] is local…” I AM Fest

Yes, Fearless fans, this entire festival was local. The I AM Festival was one of a kind independent show in which SouthSide had never experienced before. I AM Fest, meaning Independent Arts and Music Festival, was an idea first thought up by Brian Bender (front man for A Birdsong Valentine and Elbo Room Talent Booker). He envisioned something more than gathering great local bands making noise in Chicago’s music scene under one roof. He saw an all day event which would include local artists, photographers and filmmakers as well. What a better way to get more fan involvement in Chicago’s rising local scene. So with help of friends from Chicago Noise Machine and sponsors such as Washburn Guitars and Rock Scarz Magazine, he was able to turn this idea into reality on Saturday, June 13th.

The morning rain couldn’t dampen the excitement and nervousness felt by many as the bands eagerly waited to hit the stage. I AM Fest, Fearless fans, featured twenty-five awesome bands rockin’ on the main and Tattoo Factory/Rock Scarz Magazine stages until the wee hours of Sunday morning. This fest had everything for every type of music, art and film lover. In music, fans were treated to acoustic/singer-songwriter to metal and country rock to pop alternative. Local artists such as Josh Kelchner and Jane Kemp displayed pieces ranging from the abstract to neo-modern and photography. Then there were short films between bands that gave fans a few laughs and deep thoughts about the message they’re trying to convey. Plus there were booths like free Monster drinks to keeping fans hyped, Bank of America and IAMTHETREND and Delicious food and snacks were provided by J & L Catering. During the I AM Fest, fans had the chance to purchase raffle tickets to win a custom-made I AM Fest guitar by Washburn. All the proceeds went to Merit School of Music which helps kids around Chicago to the joys of music education and instruments.

A fest of this magnitude did pose a tiny problem for SouthSide. How would she cover the action at the same time? Though it was no easy task, Fearless fans, this reviewer was able to sample all of the sights and sounds of both stages. The first half of the main stage lineup opened with runner-up and winner of Battle for Congress bands. Red City once again got the audience grooving and shaking to their funk-ified rock. The Battles winner, Phat Cats, was next to wow everyone with their neo-funk/soul/alternative set. Fans were excited to see bands, A Friend Called Fire, Moxxy and Camera which all three rocked down the house. Even the raunchiest indie band, Your Little Ponies, in the local scene was on tap performing the ever popular Dude song. SouthSide was in awe Digital Mindy’s performance. They had the Goths and Vamps in the audience banging their heads to songs like Meet Mr Agitator and Popular. Closing out the 1st half of the main stage was Chicago’s only NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) band, I Fight Dragons. Fans enjoyed the look and feel of being part of a video game during their set.

Meanwhile, in the lobby of Congress Theatre, the Rock Scarz Magazine/Tattoo Factory stage was alive with acoustic performances. Singer-songwriter Tommy Tuesday opened the stage who was followed by Ryan Powers and Adriana Ramirez. After meeting Adriana, SouthSide had the opportunity to partake in her performance where she was joined by Matt Mullen (of Smentek & Mullen). This reviewer highly recommends checking out this songtress with a soulful voice. Her songs were inspirational and uplifting to the ears. Rock alternative music by bands like S Joel Norman and Fishing With Spoons filled the middle of the lineup on this stage. Fans went crazy for the Southern-fried rock sounds of SouthSide’s friends, Green Sugar. Matthew Alfano’s lively performance with his drummer closed out the lineup.

So far, Fearless fans, the 1st half of I AM Fest was one heck of a rockin’ time. The 2nd half featured the nine bands that make up Chicago Noise Machine. Algren lit the stage on fire with another hot performance since their CD release show at Double Door. Echo Son brought the sexy side of rock while Bullet Called Life shined on stage to adoring fans. The rafters shook and rattled from the mighty screams of Brian Bender during the A Birdsong Valentine performance. The guys dedicated their set to a long time friend who recently died. Karl’s deep vocals added some heart and soul during Lucid Ground’s rock alternative set. The highlight of Reverie’s show was when other Chicago Noise Machine members joined on stage for the Monster song. That wasn’t the only lovefest moment of the night. Heavy The Fall and Simplistic Urge totally rocked the stage with thrilling guitar rock music. Closing out I AM Fest 2009 was 72 Hours. Other CNM members once again joined the band on stage for Elephant Song. What a rousing way to end this fun-filled day of music and art.

Whew what a day, Fearless fans! And it didn’t stop there when the show was over. It was off the afterparty at Original Mother’s on Rush and Division to celebrate today’s momentous event in history. This will be one unique music experience SouthSide will never forget. She cannot wait for what Chicago Noise Machine has in store for I AM Fest 2010. For more information about I AM Fest, visit or For more information about Chicago Noise Machine, visit them at or

Until next time, Fearless fans, support your local artists and music.


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