Once a year, fans, artisans and musicians are brought together under one roof for a special, one of a kind all day festival known as I AM Fest, blogspot readers. Started over three years by 9 founding band members of the Chicago Noise Machine, this locally produced fest has grown by leaps and bounds featuring many artisans within photography and waterworks to jewelry craftsman as well as bands of differing genres rockin' the stage at the legendary House of Blues. Every year, there's always something new and exciting happening during I AM Fest, blogspot readers, so this year Southside decided to take a unique approach in covering this annual event. This reviewer came only prepared with her infamous notepad and pen and an open mind about each of the ten bands performing though already knowing and/or previously reviewed half of the lineup. The goal was to attend I AM Fest with a fresh set of eyes (and ears) as if she had never heard or attended an event like this before. Also she asked random people at I AM Fest from artists and musicians to fans and those behind the scenes in putting together this fest for their thoughts and opinions about the day's event.
Kicking off this year's rockin' Independent Arts and Music Fest(ival) or I AM Fest for short was the winners of this year's Battle of the Bands - The Studs and The Giving Moon. Both bands, blogspot readers, thoroughly not set the pace and mood of the festival as well as its lineup but also got the festgoers pumped and ready to rock out all afternoon long. To say they had hot performances would be an understatement, blogspot readers - those two bands gave the other acts a run for their money by fueling the audience with electrifying , intense energy within their music and sound. So far, I AM Fest was off to a good start. Next to perform on stage was The Underlined - an ecelectic mix of classical with acoustic Americana/folk music during their first appearance as a band on stage. SouthSide did like their unique vaudeville-esque style and sound however the set lacked that burst of energy felt at the beginning of the show, blogspot readers. Still, this was a welcome change compared to the steady stream of rock usually heard at I AM Fest. This reviewer highly suggests listening to the following by The Underlined - Knots and Midwestern Sky. Then afterwards, Cobalt & The Hired Guns took the stage exploding with a burst of energy and momentum within the band's urban pop folk/alternative sound though at first the bass cellist did have a hard time keeping up to the fast paced tempo during the opening song. Yet when the tempo dropped to something a little steadier as well as livelier, Cobalt's unique mesh of blend genres produced an rockin' sound. One of SouthSide's guests commented that band reminded him of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones heard from Cobalt's peppy list of songs performed.
Continuing with the theme of explosive energy and music, The Alaya Conscious blew everyone's minds (and ears) with melodic rhythms within the band's guitar rock especially while opening with the song White Noise. SouthSide definitely could feel the flow of momentum surrounding the House of Blues during the chorus and instrumental bridge where the blending mesh of hardcore guitar riffs and flowing melodies merged into one heart-pounding, head banging metal experience. Featuring new material especially for I AM Fest 2012 like Throat and Grace, fans will enjoy feeling (besides hearing) the intensity to which this trio performs under from beginning to end amidst a complexity of electric riffs to draw out the epic composition of each song. Also halfway through this event when A Friend Called Fire electrified the stage with their opening song, The Lightning. This opening song not only fuel the audience's energy throughout the set but also the band's as they rocked this legendary venue with an explosive bang when Jon strummed the guitar on his knees to close out the performance. This act truly had rock fans excited for more bands as the stage was now set for Board of Governors. Voted as having the "Best Hair" in Chicago, last year's I AM Fest openers were poised and ready to turn up the heat as well as electricity with their electrifying guitar rock sound. And this band, blogspot readers, did not disappoint their fans who were screaming and rockin' out along with this trio. There was excitement for the intense riffs and percussion rhythms flowing throughout the main floor ..but watch out for Board's chord changes too -not only will it increase the band's music intensity but also your rock experience even while the hair is flying around the stage. Check out Homo Sapien though taking the energy down a bit there remains life and momentum to keep you rockin or Slow Down yet you don't want to not after listening to this particular song.
Next representing the singer/songwriter genre of I AM Fest was Leah Druzinsky and her band in which she brought her soulful and dynamic voice to the House of Blues crowd though there were times when she was overshadowed by the band. Yet she did give these fans a powerful display of her vocal powress and emotional emphasis as well as a taste of her sweet seductive side as a sultry temptress during a couple of songs that lit the stage on fire. SouthSide noted the crowd's enthusiastic reaction throughout her performance while they grooved to her soulful style and sound especially when the band jammed instrumentally which was a good lead-in for the next performance. Now, it was time to sweat and rock out with Workout Music. blogsot readers! This local band best known for their wacky antics on stage while entertaining an audience with a few surprises besides performing their hit songs like Don't Stop Now, Drop Them Drawers, and SouthSide's fave - Ain't My Jeans. Last year's I AM Fest, they cluttered the House of Blues stage with confetti. Well, this year - it was messy mixture of bubbles, confetti, streamers, and beach balls everywhere on the main floor. You should have seen the area AFTER the event was over ...what a clean up job for the staff and crew! Viewing part of this set from backstage, the guys definitely were ready to party like last year. Then closing out I AM Fest but also following with Workout Music's crazy lead was The Energy Commission. Featuring an artist creating a portrait during their performance, this band also had other surprises for their fans like dancers to liven up certain songs (ie We Got Game and We're Strugglin') to kick balls and pom poms being tossed into the crowd. SouthSide enjoyed how this group rocked the stage with a variety of genres from hip hop fusion to rocl alternative with such exuberant energy and stage showmanship, blogspot readers. They had this crowd on hyperdrive from start to finish as they rocked out I AM Fest 2012 with a bang!
Throughout the event, blogspot readers, SouthSide sampled a random select group of people for their thoughts and comments about I AM Fest 2012. Tracy, for example, has been a staunch supporter of the local music scene as a fan and now as a crafts participant within this year's event. She stated "...it's great supporting each other and other artists..." while Mr. Agitator (of V Is For Villains) said "...Brian Bender (co-founder of I AM Fest) will always be my girlfriend..." Memebers of Board of Governors were excited to see The Alaya Conscious perform as well as the other bands in the lineup too. Wags (of Red City) expressed that I AM Fest is "...an opportunity for local musicians to express themselves on the stage that they deserve..." Sarah, Wag's sister and first time I AM Fest-goer had this to say "...I love it ...live music is the best thing in the world..." Other comments ranged from "...more of a sense of pride in music [within] Chicago's music scene..." from Leonard (of We Killed The Lion) to "...a kind culmination of things that Elbo Room does for Chicago's local scene and bands ...something like this is awesome..." - Dave (of The Alaya Conscious). Adam (of A Friend Called Fire) had this to say when asked for his thoughts "...seeing the bands come together is refreshing regardless of genre and the people ...every band that's here should be playing for them [the crowd] like this every night ...definitely an experience..." while bandmate Jon stated this "...it's nice sitting in a room with people some we know and other we don't without the bullshit..." Memebers of Workout Music excitedly had this to say "...I AM Fest is an opportunity that Tim and I have been waiting for since the age of 14 years old..." and "...an opportunity to play at House of Blues, I'm glad [I AM Fest] exists..." Finally but never least, Matt summed up the entire I AM Fest experience with this, blogspot readers, "...the openers earned their spots on stage [tonight] and watching the progression of bands [on the lineup] was amazing ...and Workout Music - partying like there's no tomorrow..." which was followed by "...I AM Fest builds such community and friendships amongst the bands where they will be doing shows together at other venues ...it's amazing watching everything as it happens..." Nicely put but it was also time to "...trainwreck..." the after party!
What a day!
What a fest, blogspot readers!
Until next time, support your local scene,