Gonzo Chicago: a videographer's videographer
» Chicago's finest DIY documentarian on why he does what he loves.
Impose welcomes Gonzo Chicago to the editorial fold. We will be featuring video and commentary by John regularly here and in our Impose.tv section.
I moved to Chicago from Wisconsin because I loved the music scene. That's it. I was travelling here every single weekend anyway. I started Gonzo Chicago in 2007 with a shitty point and shoot Canon ELPH, simply filming bands in DIY spots and other venues. Some of the things I was seeing in Chicago's underground were blowing my mind. There was a spot I found by chance called The Mopery, this huge, disgusting warehouse that quite a few people lived in. They had tents set up. The thing was, though, that some of the music was PHENOMENAL. I cut my teeth on basement shows in Green Bay at a spot called the _____ house, but that kicked it all off for me. I could never find any music online from a lot of the bands I was seeing in these warehouses and basement shows, so it was hard to check out what I was going to see. I never had a problem blindly going to shows, but it was always a bit more fun if I was familiar.
Since then I've amassed endless terabytes of over hundreds and hundreds of shows. Everything you could think of really, plus some ridiculous material that people have either sought me out for, or I've just asked....and they've said yes. Drag City had me film CAVE barreling down a main Chicago street on flatbed truck, being powered by a generator. Julian Koster of Music Tapes sang me songs in an alley.
The point of Gonzo Chicago is simply to get what I find to be really good artistry out to people who will appreciate it. I post about what I like, plain and simple. There has never been a single ad on it. Any DIY show I go to that I shoot, I shoot for free because that's just my passion and what I like to do. I kept seeing all of these amazing bands that didn't even have shitty YouTube videos of themselves, so I figured I would do them justice and take it one step further. If that gets a few more people to a bands show, then good. They deserve it. It's not to shine a bright light on a DIY community for the sake of growth. The people that go for spectacle of it all will never stick around past one show anyway. I've just always found it fascinating to me, and apparently I'm not alone.
This year end video wasn't supposed to be a documentary, merely a long, well put together footage dump. I recently spoke with a few (old) veterans of the noise scene about the beginnings of certain DIY spots, and each one gave me a giant list of ones that came before them that I had never heard of. I want to continue these conversations in 2012, and start doing interviews. Each one of their lists were different. My goal in 2012 is to do as much crazy stuff as I can get away with. I've noticed simply just asking yields the best result. There are some great things in the works already.