Thursday, August 21, 2014

16 Aug 14 - I AM Fest

“...Having a blast...” ~ a fan during I AM Fest

Let’s celebrate the independent art and music scene with SouthSide, blogspot readers!

On this particular Saturday afternoon, fans, bands and local artists once again converged at the legendary House of Blues for the 6th annual I AM Fest. This one-day, all ages events exposed fest goers to a wide variety of local music and artists under one roof, blogspot readers. This year’s I AM Fest featured an eclectic mix of musical acts performing hip hop/rap, R&B, world fusion, hardcore metal and Latin rock and so much more by eight carefully selected bands like Trainwreck Symphony, Avon Dale and OBY along with the winners of the I AM Fest Battle of the Bands – Steady Echo and Delilah. SouthSide highly recommends checking out all bands/artists who made I AM Fest 2014 special at their next live performance. Help keep local music alive and thriving, blogspot readers. They can’t do it without your support.

Opening this year’s I AM Fest with a bang was the runner-up winner, Steady Echo ( featuring a set with a very charismatic front man Mark who not only charmed this reviewer with his suave vocal and energetic stage presence but also the screaming ladies around her.  SouthSide highly recommends checking out this band for it’s refreshing yet lively pop rock sound that comes with a groovy danceable rhythm. Mark along with each member of Steady Echo kept the pack main floor excitedly charged during such songs like “Crazy Cat Lady” and “Tire Fire” as well as hyped for more music.
Afterwards, SouthSide was able to chat with Amanda, backing vocalist for Steady Echo (and Nu Bambu) about her I AM Fest experience, blogspot readers, since it was not her first time at the fest but also on the House of Blues stage. Here’s what she had to say “'s amazing...” before adding how being part of a pop band has helped her as an opera singer. “ has helped me be more expressive...” in front of the audience while “...soaking in the yelling and shouting...” from them. She’s loving it! According to Amanda, the whole experience “...has helped [her] grow as an artist...” She also wanted to add that during I AM Fest she met so many bands and musicians citing it was a “...great opportunity...” for her.
Meanwhile, front man of Steady Echo did admit to this reviewer that laying on the photo pit railing was specially done just for her while commenting about how nervous before the show . Well, he said he’s always nervous before a show but now satisfied having performed on the House of Blues stage. “...there’s a type of energy that comes from a stage where rock legends have touched it even if only in passing...” says Mark, “...that it gives a type of aura in which you can ride upon [their] coattails...” He stated that it was not only “ honor but a a privilege to touch the same stage as these icons that influenced the masses through the years...”

Next was Delilah (, winner of this year’s Battle of the Bands and it was plain to see why this local band took top honors, blogspot readers. amongst stiff competition. This band offered fans a variety of music genres throughout their set featuring hardcore guitar or country rock and sometimes a little of both at the same time. Fans were thrilled by Delilah’s heart-pounding rush yet intense guitar sound from beginning to end especially during songs like “Stillwater” and “The Criminal”. “ guys are awesome...” exclaimed Delilah’s front man before rockin’ out the crowd with a thundering bang.
He’s a one-man band from Jefferson Park area, blogspot readers, who speaks life’s lessons straight from the heart via rhythmic beats and lyrical rap. RayIsDude ( made his second I AM Fest appearance mixing a little old and new tracks by this crowd-pleasing hip hop artist. Even though not really a fan of hip hop, this reviewer enjoyed how this musician has message tucked somewhere inside his lyrics for everyone to hear and learn. For example, there’s one song about the sad tale of a boy named Johnny who was bullied and then acted out his revenge against his oppressors. Yet, it wasn’t all sad or deeply weighed down with a message, blogspot readers. Ray did poke fun with other songs like “Good Life” (about wanting to live the good life) and “Bad Girls” (simply the ones ‘...who be trippin and act crazy...’).

Watch out! There are pirates lurking about House of Blues, blogspot readers! But these musicians aren’t the looting and swashbuckling kind like Captain Jack Sparrow or Blackbeard. Nope, they’re the debonair R&B type who sometimes end up stripping off their clothes when their performance ends. Sadly not this year and it disappointed a lot of people including this reviewer. Pirates! ( for their second appearance at I AM Fest slightly changed their set from what they did last year to which surprised SouthSide but she found it to be enjoyable again. It was more of an R&B show than a lively rock that still retained the fun and wit in their lyrics in songs like smoking cigarettes, “Man Lover” and “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (expect some crazed, wild dancing going on during this particular song). Since there was no stripping this year, the guys promised to do it next year.
Switching gears now , blogspot readers, as we approached the half-way mark of I AM Fest with some hardcore heavy metal music by Driven Under ( It was intense. It was thrilling. And seriously rocked a few pants off amongst the crowded main floor. Feel the heart-pounding guitars and thundering rhythm of the bass amidst the clashing drums that’s coupled with plenty of screamo vocals to keep you head-banging throughout this band’s set. Ah, what a set, blogspot readers! Heavy metal fans were screaming for more but sadly, due to time constraint, the band couldn’t.

With this next band, there was a bit everything for music lovers to hear as well as enjoy. If you liked instrumental jazz, they had that. If you like lyrical hip hop/rap with a cool sound, they had that too. Yet when this band took the stage, the main floor once again swelled to near capacity. Performing a unique blend of neo soul, funk, R&B and jazz with a bit of lyrical hip hop, OBY ( had one of the best performances (according to fans this reviewer spoke to afterwards) during their first appearance at I AM Fest.  And OBY was the only “band” that featured musicians covering every inch of the stage, blogspot readers There was no more room for any more. SouthSide immediately enjoyed the smooth eclectic soulful sounds and floetry of melodic beats which certainly kept this crowd groovin’ to the music.
“Are You Ready” for David Paige ( and his band, blogspot readers? Well, fans certainly were when this group opened their fest performance with an explosive bang! Throughout this set (like the others before him), there was an energizing sound ...intense guitar work that kept it fun and exciting for all. This reviewer enjoyed the moments of the downtempo rhythms yet still feeling the electrifying charge surge not only within David’s music but  also within his vocals. He made you feel the words pop to life whenever his voice become emotionally expressive as he poured his heart into each song performed, blogspot readers. What a powerful experience this reviewer had with this I AM Fest artist and his band.

Following behind David Paige was the return of Phil Jacobson and his band ( with his brand of easygoing alternative rock sound that totally jammed, blogspot readers. Another huge crowd for him while wowing them with sweet vocal harmonies and mellow, laidback groove amidst an upbeat rhythm. The type of music that created an exciting build up but still keeping a few pockets of intense energy for you to rock along with the band.

Then it was Avon Dale ( also making its return to I AM Fest as well with a few new songs to spice up their performance for fans. Performing songs like “Slow Burn” and “Spider”, this fan favorite rocked the stage hard and strong before the headlining band – Trainwreck Symphony ( in which the entire band looked ever so dapper for their first appearance at I AM Fest. SoouthSide apologizes for not being able to cover three remaining bands in full since she was also covering the art side to this fest, blogspot readers.

Throughout the event and in between band performances, fest goers were encouraged to check out the artwork, handcrafted jewelry and more ready for purchase by such artists – John Ruby, Emil Gorgioski (@EGorgioski) and Alex V Puryear (http://www.alexsurrealistartpuryear/com). During her attendance at the fest, SouthSide had a chance to view the unique artistic displays and met a few of them like Mike Stidham ( who had special request if you took one of his free masks. By taking and wearing one of his paper face masks, blogspot readers, he would take a picture of you wearing it ...thus you being a part of his art project instead of you browsing it. Somewhere on his site should be a picture of SouthSide wearing one of his masks. Others also were wearing them around the fest as well. She met and spent some time chatting with artist John Ruby ( who had a couple of suggestions for the organizers of I AM Fest for next year. Besides being happy to be a part of a festival, he wished the art side had an equal share of being the focal point and “...out there...” just like the music. Others shared his views pointing out the space for which they have their work on display is rather cramped and unproductive in getting traffic to come their way to browse and purchase instead of visiting the nearby restrooms. “...need to capitalize [more] on the art...” said one artist who didn’t want to be identified, “...feels it’s more about the music...” Another suggested that there “...needs to be a sign...” to direct people towards the art part of the fest or at least showcase some of the artists and their work on stage or on the screens in between bands. Overall, blogspot readers, each artist SouthSide met while browsing their work did have a fun time showcasing their art there.
I AM Fest may have been over at the House of Blues, blogspot readers, but SouthSide’s day ...well, night wasn’t. She had to play another round of “CTA mad dash” while heading towards Elbo Room for the celebratory I AM Fest after party and fun which featured a performance by Moon ( The “who’s who” of the local scene ...some from original I AM Fest lineup like Model Stranger (back then known as Reverie), 72 Hours, A Birdsong Valentine, and Lucid Ground were on hand to congratulate this year’s cast of I AM Fest bands for a job well done while enjoying the mellow metal psychedelic rock sound featuring Chris “Masta” Shen on bass/vocals along with David Azizinamini and Christopher Schneberger. This reviewer cautions you blogspot readers not to overthink the complexity of the band’s chord/changes or out-of-placed instrumental bridges during songs like “Stars” and “Always Summer”. Just sit back and enjoy the magical melodic ride of haunting vocals amidst relaxing yet dark meditative sound. The music has layers like an onion in which you the listener will have to strip away piece by piece until reaching the eclectic soul of Moon’s intense sound. It will definitely mesmerize especially when coupled with the on-screen graphics that run in sync to the band’s set list. And it also heightens your Moon experience ...almost like a Pink Floyd concert but on an indie scale (and budget). Still, it’s an experience not to be missed, blogspot readers, by this up-n-coming local band. She highly recommends checking out Moon at their next performance.

Well, it’s time for SouthSide to logged this I AM Fest into the history books, blogspot readers. In her opinion, it was another successful art and music festival independently owned and operated (with a few sponsors to help make it successful). If you want to learn more about I AM Fest, visit ...and make plans to attend next year, blogspot readers!

More photos to follow in the I AM Fest photo gallery blog...

Until next time, support your local scene,


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