Artists from throughout Chicago will be participating in a new, multi-venue festival this weekend. Decibel Crawl Fest, organized by Beverly native Clyde Moreau, started with the goal of highlighting local artists of color and LGBTQ+- and women-identifying artists, and paying them fairly “in exchange for what they give to inspire us.” The new DIY festival has shows in venues across the city, including Bohemian Grove in McKinley Park. The Weekly spoke with Moreau in Hyde Park about their hopes for the festival and the challenges of pulling together a festival in seven venues with over thirty performers, including ONO and Sasha No Disco. This interview has been edited for length and clarity; listen to an SSW Radio segment that includes Moreau’s interview as well as interviews with Decibel Crawl Fest performers Audra Vidal and Eiigo Groove:
How did this festival come into being?
I’ve gotten that question a lot lately and I still am figuring out how to answer it, but I think the easy answer is seeing really good potential for a music scene here and wanting to give other people—specifically marginalized groups—a platform to show what they do, whether it be music or visual arts. Just to be more inclusive to that part of the scene.
Why do you see a need for an event like this specifically in Chicago?
I think a lot of it goes towards giving those people a platform. In my experience, a lot of similar bands or acts get booked who aren’t people of color. There definitely seem to be cliques, which is I guess inevitable for the art scene and how Chicago operates. But I think the goal is to make sure we include as many newer acts [as possible], and people who I feel deserve a chance to show what they do.
In organizing this event specifically, what are some challenges you’ve encountered? What are some things that have been surprisingly easy?
I think the most challenging thing is scheduling. I had to do a lot of research for each individual person I wanted, and sometimes people weren’t available or could only play at certain times. For things that came easy, I was really surprised at how many people reached out to volunteer. I guess the easiest thing has been rallying volunteers and people who want to support Decibel Crawl, which is great.
What do you wish could be different about the process of pulling off events like this?
That’s a good question. I think if anything could be different, I guess making sure people were guaranteed a certain amount of money. Some people were like, “Hey, uh, I mean we’re doing this, is there any pay or can you guarantee me a certain amount?” And it’s still a small operation and we’re like, “Hey, we might not make this much or whatever, but this is what we are prepared to offer you.” I wish I had the ability for it to be a small festival but to have a bigger budget and be able to offer people who deserve it more money for their time and what they’re giving to everyone.
What do you hope will come out of Decibel Crawl? What’s your vision?
I hope that I see some new faces after this. I hope more interesting and weird music comes out of Chicago after it. I hope some person who’s never gone to a show gets inspired and is like, “I want to just find random people and do music with them.” I hope it’s a lot similar to the first show that I went to, which was me not knowing anyone but everyone was super friendly and reached out to me. There was a sense of community that I had not been exposed to. Everyone was so motivated.
What was that first show?
It was three or four years ago, maybe five, at this space in Pilsen called 2040. And it was—punks know about this—historically the last Haki show that they would play. I just remember everyone at that show being super welcoming, and it was just so much energy for a basement. It was great. I think about that day a lot.
The Decibel Crawl Fest will be held from November 16–November 18 at various venues throughout the city. $8 for a one-day pass, $20 for a three-day pass. bit.ly/DecibelCrawlFest18
Janaya Crevier is a contributor to the Weekly. A geographer by training, she spends her time learning about data feminism and taking long walks across the South Side. Find her on Twitter at @JanayaCrevier. This is her first piece for the Weekly.