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.
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.
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