The DePaulia

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Fifty50 Shows

Entrepreneur launches non-profit booking organization

Alicia+Maciel+in+the+crowd+during+Beach+Bunny%27s+headlining+set+t+HVAC+Pub+on+Dec.+22.+Maciel+has+booked+Beach+Bunny+at+Dimo%27s+and+a+Fifty50+show+in+the+past.++%28Photo+by+Fun+house+Entertainment%29
Alicia Maciel in the crowd during Beach Bunny's headlining set t HVAC Pub on Dec. 22. Maciel has booked Beach Bunny at Dimo's and a Fifty50 show in the past.  (Photo by Fun house Entertainment)

Alicia Maciel in the crowd during Beach Bunny's headlining set t HVAC Pub on Dec. 22. Maciel has booked Beach Bunny at Dimo's and a Fifty50 show in the past. (Photo by Fun house Entertainment)

Alicia Maciel in the crowd during Beach Bunny's headlining set t HVAC Pub on Dec. 22. Maciel has booked Beach Bunny at Dimo's and a Fifty50 show in the past. (Photo by Fun house Entertainment)

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When Alicia Maciel enters DePaul University’s John T. Richardson Library, the only signal she sends to confirm she’s seen me waiting for her is a slight nod. She picks the worn blue armchair across from me, the one that matches the color palette of her faded, pastel jacket, and begins to unwrap herself. She shrugs her jacket halfway off her shoulders, tosses her backpack to the ground, and places a triangular cardboard box emblazoned with the Whole Foods logo onto the table in front of her.

“Sorry,” she says as she pulls a thin slice of pizza with monstrous pieces of pepperoni out of the box. “I was starving.”

The very last thing Maciel removes are her staple white earbuds; tiny electronic threads that can, in an instant, pull her back to her beloved world of everything music has to offer. However, Maciel seldom takes breaks from anything, let alone from things related to local music. The removal of her earbuds did not pause the music in her head; it simply transferred the music from her ears to our conversation. As so often happens when you begin a conversation with the 20-year-old music business entrepreneur, we were suddenly caught up in an intense discussion about Chicago’s local music scene.

“I’ve always listened to a lot of music, and I’ve listened to independent artists for forever. Local involvement here started when I went to college … before school started, I decided to make a group on Facebook that was ‘DePaul University’s Music Community’ and I posted it on my graduating year class’s [Facebook page]. Before school started, people already knew me as this ‘music girl,’” said Maciel, a junior public relations and advertising student at DePaul.

Maciel’s academic, social, and work lives all center around the songs and bands that bring her joy. Whether she’s learning how to write press statements for musicians in class, grabbing a slice of pizza before catching a garage rock show with her friends, or sending out mass emails to book a local band’s next show, Maciel is constantly surrounded by music in every facet of her life.

“Alicia is the busiest person I know, and I’ve told her that so many times,” said Megan Boyles, a close friend and volunteer at Maciel’s booking organization, Fifty50 Shows. “She never stops, ever…one time I asked her to explain what her average day looks like and I was overwhelmed just hearing about it. She does a lot of multitasking, and in regard to music, she does it all: photography, writing, management, booking; and she’s good at it all too.”

Maciel, a South Side Chicago native from Marquette Park, began attending DePaul in the fall of 2015. She immediately enrolled in Daniel Makagon’s Underground Culture Explore class, where she was introduced to local music, Chicago record stores and underground graffiti spots. One of the first local house shows she experienced that year was at The Keep, a former DIY venue in Wicker Park.

“The bands that played were The Walters, Post Animal. I already knew the bands that were playing, so it was super cool. I’d been doing internships and street teaming for so long, and it just got to a point with the music business club that I was like, ‘how do I get more involved?’ And I came up with the Dimo’s idea,” said Maciel.

“The Dimo’s idea” was Maciel’s first stab at booking local shows. She reached out to the Dimo’s Pizza location in Wicker Park and offered to curate free local shows in exchange for a few of the pizza joint’s wacky flavored pizzas. The result was a show and interview series that spanned the spring and summer of 2017. Her shows featured local indie rock acts, along with band interviews over pizza after their sets.

Even though Maciel’s wildly successful shows often packed the small restaurant with listeners, she never received financial compensation for all her work. But, by listening to over 250 bands from Chicago and creating a color-coded database to chart them, she gained the experience in talent buying and booking that would allow her to develop her own non-profit booking organization, Fifty50 Shows.

“Working with Alicia is awesome. I consider her more of a friend than anything and I think that’s what really sets her apart from other people,” said Jesse Flores, bassist of Karma Wears White Ties, a band that Maciel has booked through Fifty50.

“Rather than just communicating through the phone, she actually makes an effort to hang out with the bands she works with and I’ve even made some new friends in other bands because of that.”

— Jesse Flores, bassist of Karma Wears White Ties

Fifty50 shows launched in January 2018.  Rather than profit off local music, Maciel partnered with Lincoln Hall and Schuba’s Tavern to host shows that donate all profits to Chicago non-profit organizations. She cites her humble background as a low-class, first-generation Honduran/Mexican citizen for giving her the idea of combining charity work with her passion for local music.

Maciel’s plan is to focus on donating to four  main non-profit sectors: mental health awareness, education, animals and music. The profits from her first Fifty50 show at Schuba’s Tavern—which featured The Curls, Brisco Darling, Lovejoy and Faux Furrs—were given to Hope for the Day, a nonprofit that works to proactively prevent suicide through art and music outreach and education. It’s a  Chicago-based non-profit that seeks to achieve proactive suicide prevention by providing outreach and education through self-expression platforms, such as art and music. Donating to Hope for the Day allowed Maciel to complete her goal of aiding organizations that focus on mental health outreach.

“She’s great at putting together the perfect lineup. For example, the last show [at Schuba’s Tavern] was four indie acts and three of them used horns, and they all went really well together. I think everyone who went found at least one new band that they love,” said Boyles.

If you’d like to see Maciel in action, you can attend the next Fifty50 show on Saturday, April 16 at Subterranean in Wicker Park. The event was booked by Fifty50 and Biker Gang Booking and will feature Triathalon, L. Martin, Morgan Powers and more artists to be announced.

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