Music Alive in Chicagoland

On Friday, May 18th, a few dozen twentysomethings gathered in a Hickory Hills basement for, “an intimate May evening.”


I’m talking about a good old basement show. Tonight’s lineup features Indie bands, How It Got Burned, Romancoke, Matthew McNeal, and Them Dead Poets. Each band plays five or six songs for the crowd, then everyone funnels upstairs while the staff resets the stage for the next group.

Entry wristbands are $10, and there’s free water in the kitchen. My friend and I were impressed by the relaxed, welcoming atmosphere that is often in short supply at these small-scale shows. Great music, zero exclusivity, this is the work of DZ Records.


DZ Fest Main Stage

Founded in 2010, DZ Records is based in the basement and backyard of Ben Arguelles, a music lover who studied sound design at, Chicago’s School of the Art Institute and Columbia University. Arguelles has a passion for music that his friends and colleagues recognize. In between sets, performers and audience members alike regularly praise “Master Ben,” for putting together yet another great show. A creator, director, audio engineer, and co-founder of podcast “Friends With Music,” Arguelles is known as the “mastermind” behind DZ Records and the annual, grassroots DZ Fest.




DZ Fest began in 2012, with just a handful of bands and a group of grade school friends. Today, the festival spans two days, with two stages and over 40 bands from around the country. Each year the developing DZ record company and venue grows more popular, attracting bigger crowds to Ben’s backyard. Along with the musicians, the fest now has its own food vendors, tables upon tables of original artwork, a photo booth, and plenty of beer. Hipsters pass hacky sacks, neo-hippies pass… other fun things, and music lovers can enjoy friendly dogs, frisbee and sunshine (weather permitting). All the while, cool moms and dads can enjoy “real music” sure to remind them of the golden days. The DZ Fest lineup is so broad that anyone can find a band they’ll enjoy. When they’re not preparing for the biggest day of the year, the dedicated DZ team puts on a monthly evening show featuring several artists.


Mtvghosts perform at D Fest


At this month’s gig, Texas natives, Matthew Mcneal and drummer, Andre Black charmed the crowd with Southern hospitality and flooded the basement with just one guitar and a drum kit. Closing the show, Them Dead Poets, who are no stranger to the DZ scene, played a few of their in-your-face rock tunes. Both bands are talented, original, and creative groups; traits that you’ll find in every DZ act. More than your average, ragtag group of kids, the DZ staff work hard to maintain a clean, professional atmosphere.




Obviously I have nothing but love for DZ Fest and all those involved in its execution. It’s an adventure in music preservation and discovery with a one of a kind atmosphere worth checking out if you’re anywhere in the Chicagoland Area. The DZ team has put together a valuable community that nourishes the growth of rising musicians and promotes love and togetherness. Come see for yourself.

This year’s fest will be on, July 7 and 8 from 11 AM to Midnight.



Poster from DZ Fest 2015 


Find more coverage of DZ Records and the Chicago music scene here at Red Roll.

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