The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Local, student-led festival hits a ‘Grant Slam’ in the park

Anna Barth
Jack Riley, guitarist of My Sister the Heron, plays a tune as their hair blows in the wind in Jonquil Park on Saturday, May 18, 2024. They said they felt awesome while playing

A stampede of feet sends mountains of dirt into the air, each dancing kick an expression of undeniable joy. Friends hold each other as their hair develops a mind of its own, unable to help itself from rocking to a beat that echoes across the crowd. 

At Grant Slam, a student-led music festival that took place Saturday, May 18, faces of all kinds made an appearance. From thrift store vendors to teenage boy bands, locals met at Jonquil Park for this year’s set of performances, with free entry for the public. 

“Just looking around and seeing so many people that I don’t recognize, that’s really cool,” Aval Zaucha said, a DePaul junior and member of local band Any Two Words. “It’s bringing so many people into this niche little scene, which is a beautiful thing in music.”

Community members dance as the band Any Two Words kicks off the Grant Slam festival in Chicago on Saturday, May 18, 2024. Music lovers from across the community came to the festival to enjoy some tunes (Mary Richards)

Eight music artists took the stage, all of which were local indie-rock bands. Many were DePaul students. In addition to music, the festival hosted 25 vendors, who were selling everything from freshly grilled hot dogs to curated vintage clothing pieces. 

Staying true to its foundation, the festival highlighted up-and-coming local creatives. 

Founder Grant Lendvay began putting on an annual music showcase in his senior year of high school, bringing together local bands to jam out in his basement. This year’s Grant Slam is his biggest undertaking yet, with double the attendance and venue space from his previous festivals. 

Gabby Potempa, co-founder of secondhand clothing business Jules and Gabby, is a first-time vendor and used the festival to introduce her store. 

“This is kind of our first try, so it’s really fun to see what people are interested in and what people like,” Potempa said. “A lot of these clothes I love so deeply, and someone else needs to have them.”

The crowd kicks up dirt as they dance to music at Grant Slam in Chicago on Saturday, May 18, 2024. The alternative indie music festival inspired music lovers to mosh together in the field. (Mary Richards)

The sun shone high and bright all day, pouring onto a crowd of smiles. Sweat glistened as both musicians and listeners alike poured passion into the sound, sending waves of dance throughout the park. 

Sophomore Jack Riley, a guitarist for performing band My Sister the Heron, felt “really blessed to be in an amazing community.”

“The Chicago scene is amazing,” Riley said. “And this is by far one of the best things I’ve participated in to bring people together.”  

Matthew Boyd sings one of the band’s original singles in Chicago for Grant Slam on Saturday, May 18, 2024. Boyd is a vocalist and guitarist for the band Intoner. (Anna Barth)

Bandmate Judah Gartzke, drummer for Any Two Words, said he likes that the festival stays “very true to its roots.” 

“All the bands are friends with each other, and we play together in living rooms all the time,” Gartzke said.

Lendvay wanted Grant Slam to be a space of inclusivity and bonding for others, while showcasing the inspiring creativity of his community. 

“I started out doing this because I just wanted to get all my friends that are really creative and talented and bring them to the same place because they’re awesome,” Lendvay said. “Going through social media and seeing all the awful things that are happening in the world, we wanna have something nice out here if we can create it.”

Rain Garden, band member Harley Reid, strums chords in Jonquil Park on Saturday, May 18, 2024. She was one of many rockers who played at Grant Slam festival. (Mary Richards)


Members of the band Intoner strum an instrumental tune in Jonquil Park on Saturday, May 18, 2024. The band was one of eight that performed at Grant Slam last weekend. (Anna Barth)


Grant Slam festival attendees rock out to music in Jonquil Park on Saturday, May 18, 2024. The festival had a variety of indie bands who performed for the crowd. (Mary Richards)


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