CUSP Magazine was invited to attend the Live at Fort Knox event on Oct. 19 at the eponymous music facility in Irving Park.

A small portion of the 160,000-square-foot space was designated to the event that night, including a rehearsal room and a kitchen full of unlimited bottles of Lagunitas IPA and hot sandwiches for those in attendance. In conjunction with 2112 Inc., and other companies based out of the multi-use facility, Live at Fort Knox was an event in a series put on for the sake of increasing the visibility of artists, businesses, spaces and companies making moves in the Chicago music industry. The main event took place in the aforementioned rehearsal room, a cozy setup of cocktail tables and seats for the audience to enjoy the close proximity to the stage. In the intricately soundproofed room with high-end equipment, this was as intimate as a private music performance for industry officials could possibly get.

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The night began with an introduction from host James VanOsdol, WGN radio host and director of programming for Riveting Radio, who proceeded to interview the guest speakers about their upcoming ventures. The first guest to take the mic was Matt Fredrickson from Volcanoes for Hire, a tech startup that builds smartphone apps for individual music artists and bands. The apps are aimed to provide a dynamic musical experience for each artist. Listening to an album changes from passive to interactive. Through these apps, artists are able to do what they have always done in terms of editing and tweaking their music, but now fans are privy to these changes each step of the way. Whereas listeners have only been able to hear the finished product of musicians’ albums and even their EPs, apps made by Volcanoes for Hire provide the ability to hear songs in both their raw and completed forms as the artists go along. The first artist app is already available for download in the iOS store, despite Volcanoes For Hire still being in its “beta” stages.

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The next guest was Jerald Gary from the Chicago Regal Foundation, a man not quite 30 years old and the new owner of the historic Regal Theater on the southeast side of Chicago. The old Avalon Theater in South Shore, which for decades has been closed to the public and bouncing from one owner to the next, was purchased in 2014 for $100,000 by Gary’s investment company, Community Capital Investment LLC. The company intends to reopen the theater and attract both old and new artists to generate foot traffic and become a “catalyst for rejuvenation of the area.” Most notably, Gary and the Chicago Regal Foundation plans to implement holographic technology as one of the theater’s new attractions, believing that a virtual resurrection of Black music legends will bring the South Shore neighborhood back to life. The first holographic performance is slated to occur in the summer of 2016.

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Finally, the night ended with a performance by Killah Priest, an affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan and local hip-hop artists Pugs Atomz and Awdazcate. They were accompanied by Bryan Ford, a local producer and musician who has toured nationally with various different groups. The group gave a dynamic performance, made all the more intense by the size of the room. The night ended with abundant opportunities to meet and talk to the movers and shakers of Chicago’s music scene.

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To stay up to date with Fort Knox Studios and all their affiliates, visit their website and like/follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram..


Alexandra Wedro
Mooni Salam