My name is Elizabeth. I am a Chicago-based writer and poet. I was born and raised in Chicago, first in Lincoln Park, and then, when I was 12, our family schlepped south to Hyde Park. In my earliest years of adolescence, I was self-conscious and lonely. I viewed myself as strange, an outsider from the other girls who seemed to be confident in the way they carried themselves, who congregated on the playground and weren't afraid of their own girlhood. I began creating to cope with the adult pieces of my life that began to intrude on my childhood.
During summer when I was 16, I discovered the Chicago art scene, more specifically the DIY scene. I had been interviewing the lead singer of a band for a janky 'zine project I had started, and he began talking about a world of basements and backrooms where strange folk packed so tightly together they could practically taste the sweat pooling in droplets along the napes of their necks to watch bands of their peers perform.
The Orwells live at Feeltrip's former DIY venue
The world he described was a world where people created art not because they were good at it or because they gained economically; it was a world where people created because that was what they loved to do, and they were supported by other people of the same mindset. Though I came to learn that this was a very idealized viewpoint of Chicago's DIY world, at the time it seemed like the only place I could ever belong.
My first DIY show was at the Charm School, and all I could think of was how I was taking up space, that I should go home, that everybody was too cool, that it would be easier to disappear in the bathroom for the night than to keep standing in the spot I had marked and was too afraid to leave. I did not talk to anyone that first night. I was so young, so curled up in my black T-shirt; I refused to make eye contact, and nobody seemed to want to approach me, the scowling figure in the middle of the floor.
Over time, I learned how to go to shows alone, how to talk with people, how to introduce myself, and I learned that often my romanticized vision of the art freaks and weirdos I saw at shows was far from true. These were people too, many of whom were like me, who got anxiety at shows and didn't really know how to talk to anyone, and many of whom came from backgrounds and stories so drastically different from my own, that I could not and did not have any right to jump to conclusions about who they were.
On April 28, Feeltrip threw a record release celebration for Sun Cop, a project by producer Andrew Humphrey, for the release of his debut LP When You Hear the Drum You May Speak. The lineup included Sun Cop, Bunny, Suzie, and Paul Cherry at DIY space The Observatory. The show was packed, the music loud and good; Bunny particularly reminded me of the Velvet Underground, if the Velvet Underground were a band fronted by femmes.
Bunny - Promises
(Single from Paul Cherry's forthcoming LP Cherry I)
Suzie - "Fantasy"
It was the first show where I felt I was a part of the DIY community, where I felt I was surrounded by my friends and my peers instead of strangers who I had once idolized until I realized how flawed, dorky, strange, and human they really were.
My hopes for the future are for more music to be made, more art to be created, more shows to be had, and more people to be met. I am still growing, we all are still growing, and as we are growing, so will the things we create. But my hope is that we will always have a place to display our creations and share our work with our peers, and I hope that the Chicago DIY community will continue to be that place.
My hopes are that this blog can become a continuation of these spaces where individuals can come together to share their work and the stories they tell through that work. I am excited to see how this blog will evolve and the amazing things that Feeltrip has planned for the future.
10 songs that remind me of April 28:
-"Promises" by Bunny
-"Get Haunted" by Sun Cop
-"Kiss 'N Tell" by Suzie
-"The Addicts" by Paul Cherry
-"I Like You" by Bunny
-"Burn" by Suzie
-"Who's Up" by Paul Cherry
-"Oracle Teeth" by Sun Cop
-"I'm No Fool" by Suzie
-"Golden Son" by Sun Cop
Written by Elizabeth Meyer