Chicago, IL - Picture this: You’re sitting on a carnival ride taking you round in circles while the ride operators give you high fives. Zoom out a little, and now all the people standing in line are waving and cheering you on. Zoom out more, and you get a stunning view of the Chicago skyline, not to mention the beautiful blue water of Lake Michigan, and the beach. Take one final zoom and the scene is completed by the lights and sound from the stage on Lakefront Green park. This is the setting of the second annual Birdhouse Festival. Now, hop down from the ride car and go boogie with hundreds of your closest friends.
There’s a particular energy in the air at a Dirtybird event. Maybe it’s the pounding house music, played with subtle intricacies as each label artist showcases their talents. Maybe it’s the crowd, clad in mostly black and decked out in merch, proving that the label has a loyal following. Maybe it’s the more likely than not chance to see one of your favorite artists hanging out by the arcade games, ready to chat and take on a basketball shoot-out challenge. But, one thing is for sure, bring dancing shoes, because this is a dancing, moving, active energy.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of “community” describes a unified body of individuals, coming together with some common interest within a larger society. For Dirtybird fans, that community holds the values of inclusion, house music, and fun.
Inclusion - Each ticket at the Dirtybird Presents: Birdhouse Festival was the same. There was no VIP, no sectioned off areas, no super exclusive access. Instead, everything at the event was made available to everyone, and everyone was treated like friends. Unlike the year before, this year’s venue provided a water refill station. With something so simple as free access to water, everyone has an opportunity to do as much dancing, living, and partying as they wish, reassured that a quick water break is never too far away or too expensive. The artists of the Dirtybird label promote inclusion by interactions with their fans. Almost half of the lineup for the day participated in contests for patrons that placed a famous musician and a regular Jane together and equal, against each other in a friendly arcade game competition. Walk around early in the day, and Claude VonStroke was only a few yards away, glad to pose for a photo and share a few hellos. The games and the rides that created the country fair feeling were also complementary; a part of the decor as much as working entertainment machines. So is the arts and crafts table pre-set with wooden birdhouses and paint, so all festival-goers can create their own physical memory of the event.
House Music - No stranger to the Chicago area, Claude brought some key players with him for this Midwest event. Walker and Royce, a duo originally from New York City, spend a lot of time in the studio. When they grace a stage, what comes to life is a well rehearsed and well defined set of standards and sounds. Interwoven beats create hard hitting dance tracks, played with an awareness of the moment and a sly smile in the background. VNSSA, holding down an early day set, is no stranger to music of all kinds. Coming from a musical childhood, she originally started playing the drums, and grew into DJing and production. She claims it is her calling that brings her to music, beyond just an interest. Being a Chicago event, it wouldn’t be right to round out a lineup without some local talent. To fill this position, comes Paul Johnson. With a claim to fame hit single in the late 90’s, Paul and Claude brought their talents together for a back to back set.
Fun - It’s not good clean fun. It’s a little bit dirty. After all, this is a Dirtybird party. Just ask the Dirtybird cheerleaders, dressed in black and white classic uniforms, cheering on dancers in the crowd and making up cheers and formations on the spot to give patrons the best photos, videos, and memories. More often than not, the dance party turns into a circle of booty shaking. But no worries, if too much twerking bumps into your neighbor, start the introductions. This crowd boasts the status of most helpful and friendly. Come alone, and you’ll be sure to leave with many new groups of friends. The easy-going vibe allows for genuine connections, and the small venue space allows other concert-goers to become familiar faces throughout the span of the day. A judgement-free zone, a compliment is more likely than an insult to be overheard in a crowd. Especially if the compliment involves custom Dirtybird outfits.
Dirtybird Records hosts many local and national events all across the United States with these ideals. Started on a basic concept, parties in the park with friends, these events have grown to a much larger scale, to include the entire fan base of the company’s artists. But here, the community is the strongest player. It includes artists and fans both and can be seen among the smiles in the crowd. Dirtybird Campout West Coast is the next festival, October 4th to 6th in Southern California.
Written By: Laura Sowers