This is not Martha Stewart’s version of a DIY show, this is something unique and all it’s own that the Midwest has going on. The Windy City is recognized for more than overpaid politicians, we also offer a consistent and lively DIY music scene. Those that are brave enough to open their houses or businesses to a select group of music enthusiasts, are also fortunate enough to accommodate some of the leading folk-punk and experimental rock acts and sometimes that means in their own living room.

It was a double-booked Tuesday night when The Dollhouse hosted a housewarming show in celebration of the new pad. But also Hosh Fest, a “folk-punk extravaganza”, was going to transpire at mt. Happy. So with some careful planning and a few taps on Facebook later, I had my personal lineup for the night. It would start with Spooky Tarantulas, a folk-punk duo, Ventra, a psychedelic grunge act, and Glamour Hotline, purely a punk trio at The Dollhouse. Then a fast sprint south for Highway Ruger Bandits, a folk-punk quartet, and Arroyo Deathmatch, experimental folk-punk at mt. Happy. So with a hop, skip, and a rush hour ridden Stevenson Expressway later, my brother and I were on the way to enjoy Chicago’s very own, DIY music scene.

Upon arriving to The Dollhouse, we were greeted and stamped at the door, then informed that music was in the living room. With the ominous glow of Christmas lights (a DIY staple), and the fuzz of a sound check, it seemed that our night officially begun.


Spooky Tarantulas opened the night with a set full of fast paced, original folk-punk ballads. Each  layered with warm vocals lead by front woman Roxanne Azuara, and gritty harmonies matched by the other half of Spooky Tarantulas, Yeshi Regalado. As the sweat thickened, the crowd connected through expressive group chants, and genuine stories confessed only two feet in front of them. The power of the intimate setting intensified the honesty in each track as the words poured from their lips like hot truth soup. One that especially hit home was “Mint Flavored Gum”, a tale about a teenager looking for acceptance in someone’s eyes, then seeing that self-love can never be found in another soul.

Up next was Ventra, a progressive/psychedelic grunge trio that by the looks of their blue lipped, mink coat wearing frontman, something strange was about to go down. The opening shimmer of a power chord drenched in flanger, followed by a growling bass, to a crash and ride cymbal party, had led me to believe it was another band who didn’t quite get how dynamics work. However, I ate my words seconds after when the volume purposefully switched to a moderate decibel and became another tool in their musical arsenal. Fluctuating between thrashing and control, Ventra was able to tease us with fluid spacey riffs that built to stadium worthy drum fills, and pounding bass grooves. The show stopper of the night was when Brandon cracked the neck off his beer bottle, and used as it as a guitar slide for the fan favorite original, “Slide”. The frightening screeches of accelerating reverb dripping notes took the crowd on a psychedelic trip that sounded as if they were falling upwards towards the clouds while battling off frustrated vultures, voiced by Thom Yorke.

One eavesdropped conversation about molecules, and a corner store trip later, we were ready for Glamour Hotline. This three-piece all girl punk band contained one of the dolls, Hayley Jordanna(right), that owned the abode. With an explosive amount of energy right from the start, the synchronization between the two guitars, and drums were effective as all hell. Each set of vocals were in sync, playing off one another forming their own angsty yin and yang. An original that Glamour Hotline jammed was titled “Carrie”, in which Hayley ironically sang about wanting to be like “her”. With a take no shit attitude, the trio fired up the crowd all the way to the end, leaving a pleasingly loud punk experience.

Ears ringing, and still trying to keep my equilibrium juices from spilling we high tailed it to the car to battle our way south towards Pislen to mt. Happy. This was the next stop on our DIY Adventure as we were already late to get to Hosh Fest…

Stop back in tomorrow for the conclusion of Mitch’s adventure in DIY Venues and the play by play of old Mt. Happy in Pilsen! And if you’d like more on The Dollhouse and the bands that play it check out the links below!

Mitch McLaughlinThe Dollhouse | Spooky Tarantulas | Ventra | Glamour Hotline