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The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

“Hitting a ‘Grant Slam’: DePaul student organizes free DIY music festival to showcase local artists

Linnea Cheng
Grant Lendvay poses for a portrait in the School of Music on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. Although a musician first, Lendvay’s knack for festival management is something he feels he can do to bring the college DIY sound to the general Chicago area.

Tacking up posters in DePaul’s School of Music, Grant Lendvay’s smile emanates the excitement his DIY music festival is sure to bring. 

Lendvay, a third-year sound recording technology student, is spreading the word about Grant Slam which will take place at Jonquil Park on May 18 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

Grant Slam is set to be Lendvay’s biggest exhibition yet. And it’s free.  

The largely student-run operation will host eight music acts, including local bands Daundry, DZ Riley, Intoner and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, as well as 25 vendors, which range from vintage clothing racks, coffee booths and oracle readings.

Lendvay’s annual music showcase began his senior year of high school when he hosted local bands for his graduation party in his dad’s basement. 

In the same DIY spirit and in an effort to make this year’s festival accessible to as many people as possible, Lendvay made the decision to not charge tickets for entry. 

Lendvay hopes to garner revenue through sponsorships, merch sales and donations to cover out of pocket expenses. 

“The satisfaction I know I will feel after the event is so high that it is worth all the work that we’re putting in,” Lendvay said. “And it’s not just myself, my team has been working very hard.” 

Grant Slam’s 2024 production board was established in November 2023 and is comprised of DePaul students Dawn Elaine, Alexander Lehr, Maddie Voelkel and recent DePaul alum Catalina Torres Reyes, who was also a vendor at last year’s event. 

“This is my love letter to Chicago’s local rock scene,” said Lehr, a third-year sound recording technology student and Grant Slam’s production manager. 

A stack of posters advertising Grant Slam sit in the School of Music on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. The lineup includes a mix of bands who played at last year’s event and artists from outside DePaul’s scene. (Linnea Cheng)

Lendvay and Lehr started brainstorming for Grant Slam after last year’s inaugural Chicago festival — previously dubbed Grantchella but has since been rebranded due to trademark issues — which took place in the courtyard of Lendvay’s apartment.  

Last year’s event hosted seven bands, six vendors and about 200 people, but it was prematurely shut down due to noise complaints. 

Lendvay obtained a special event permit from the Chicago Park District to ensure the legitimacy of this year’s festival. 

With the amped-up support and intensive planning process, Lendvay hopes to double this year’s attendance. 

“It’s so beautiful to watch all these talented people come together and do something awesome and be passionate and driven about the same stuff you are,” said Gracie Lubisky, lead singer of DZ Riley. 

Lubisky, whose five-person band is largely based in Columbia College’s music scene, was offered a spot on Grant Slam’s bill by Lehr after a performance at the DIY venue Bookclub in Lake View East. 

“Any indie artists, especially people our age, are feeling kind of stuck because social media and streaming platforms are an abyss,” Lubisky said. “Labels are so parasitic. We have to be our own community that lifts each other up.” 

The high cost of playing in festivals typically inhibits smaller bands from obtaining gigs for a larger audience. 

“It puts a lot of power back into the artists’ hands,” Torres Reyes said, who works as a nursing assistant in addition to her small business selling jewelry. “It’s important for young artists to have a say in how their art is portrayed.”

Lendvay placed Torres Reyes in charge of PR after she staved off agitated neighbors at last year’s slam with some kind words and a slice of pizza. 

“It’s the people that lead the project that the audience want to engage with,” Lehr said. “Grant is the most lovable person ever, he’s the person I want to lead the ship.” 

Lendvay’s commitment to fostering an inclusive hub for local artists attracts not only those inside the DIY scene but also those willing to experience what’s happening in the underground.

“I’m just so excited to see all these bands and celebrate everyone being authentically themselves,” Lubisky said. “Watching people live their dreams is my favorite activity and the fact that we’re going to do a whole day of that is amazing to me.” 

Before this year’s festival even comes to fruition, Lendvay is already looking forward to Grant Slam 2025. 

“I saw a lot of smiling faces at last year’s festival,” Lendvay said. “That energy is highly contagious. I find this festival as something that does a lot of good, and I want to continue that community.”

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