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The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Redefining DIY: Chicago’s basement scene

Artists need their own space: a place where they can go and feel welcomed without the fear of being judged for their work, a place that brings them into a community of like-minded individuals who have the same goals in mind, a place where everybody comes together and you just DIY (do it yourself).

Being the city that Chicago is, artists, musicians and creators have a unique opportunity to become immersed into an intimate culture of hard working

Musicians playing "The Rad Pad," the name given to SAIC student Mylo Reyes's apartment that doubles as a performance space for local musicians. Photo by Parker Asmann.
Musicians playing “The Rad Pad,” the name given to SAIC student Mylo Reyes’s apartment that doubles as a performance space for local musicians. Photo by Parker Asmann.

individuals committed to allowing music and art to be promoted and played in a convivial environment. A variety of DIY spaces have popped up around Chicago for decades to provide this exact type of opportunity.

Mylo Reyes, a visual communications major at the Art Institute, has transformed his most recent apartment, with the help of his roommates, into a DIY space, allowing musicians of all shapes and sizes to come through the door. Eventually, the space coined the name, “Rad Pad”.

“I previously lived in Andersonville in a huge two-flat. The band I was in at the time played a show before a party we had and afterwards we all couldn’t get over how awesome it was and thought, ‘We need to start our own space,’” Reyes said.

Exclusive, simple and jam packed with a variety of different people, the air is usually hot and heavy as participants and onlookers trade conversation before the scheduled events get going. It’s not something that makes a lot of noise across the internet, but if you know, you know, and you bring everyone you know with you to get them involved in what truly is a unique experience.

“There’s really a sense of honesty and heart with the work that you put into a DIY event,” Reyes said. “The events feel much looser, more intimate.”

Unlike bigger events and performances where things can sometimes veer off course, the Rad Pad has mastered the art of working out a reasonable lineup with quality set times for the artists to present, while leaving plenty of room for conversing afterwards.

“We’re in each other’s’ houses; we’re all in it for the same thing,” Reyes said. “When bands and artists decide to come together to make an awesome night happen, it’s really a killer time.”

With two successful events already under their belt, the Rad Pad has finalized plans for the summer to kick off the end of school with an event that looks to incorporate music, art, poetry and stand up comedy. “Dude Rad Woah Fest” is scheduled at the moment for Saturday, June 7 and countless acts have been confirmed. With a DJ set by DePaul theatre student, Matt Reich, an acoustic set by local act, “Sorry, Charlie” and prints that will be on display by Reyes himself, the event looks to be shaping up nicely.

“It would be unfortunate if DIY spaces weren’t around,” Reyes said. “It’s important, it’s a fun way to experience music and there’s an atmosphere that just isn’t attainable at a large venue.”

DIY spaces don’t surface without a lot of dedication and commitment by all parties involved. It takes much more than just a couple of college kids opening up their apartment to local artists to see these types of things succeed. In the truest sense of the word, it’s a community, a tight knit one that relies on the organizers and performers equally to see what’s taken a lot of effort to create endure over time.

“If you’ve got room and cool neighbors, host a DIY show. Start a band, jam with people, make cool stuff with your friends,” Reyes said.

With living arrangements changing and varying as much as the weather does here in Chicago, one thing that will remain constant is support for the DIY scene.

“We only want to do awesome with awesome people,” Reyes said. “Shows, music, art, it’s all very important to us.”

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