ARC Music Festival is a Chicago-style house and techno party – Features

Ron Carroll described the obstacles faced by early house artists trying to get radio broadcasts, even in their own towns, saying that radio stations and the general public “viewed house as an inferior form of music. You have to remember that music is promoted by someone’s interest and ego. So house music was seen as the misfit child, the gay sound––at the time, they didn’t want it on the radio because they thought it was bad, they thought it pissed you off. Drugs. They have thought of all that, which is why this country has never locked itself in there. While Europe, you didn’t just see it in a cult of people – bottle service clubs, regular clubs, they would play it. When I was growing up, you had to find it.

Detroit techno has had movement since the turn of the millennium, so why has it taken Chicago house so long to reach the important (but arguably fundamental) milestone of having an event like ARC, which seeks to amplify the creators of house music in a globally competitive festival setting? Amid longstanding systemic barriers, particularly for black artists, in the American music industry, including the struggle for the broad reach and perceived legitimacy that radio play offered in the 80s and 90s, Chip E offers an analogy for how all the innovations this house gave the world could have been taken for granted in the genre’s home country.

“I always tell people about Ms. Fields cookies. If Mrs. Fields was your mom, people would be like, ‘Oh yeah, your mom makes great cookies’, but people who buy them are like, ‘These are the best cookies in the world. But for you, because you’re Mrs. Fields’ child, you’re like, ‘It’s just cookies. She bakes cookies on Sundays. It’s not serious.'”

By attending ARC, you experience various qualities of the music and the culture that surrounds it, which started here, near these festival grounds: the ethos, the sound and the message spread through the world, and after being reinterpreted, flipped and sampled, they reverberate through the city at this event. The truth is, now that house music has taken hold so deeply among audiences around the world, many of whom have taken it in myriad new directions, there’s still a bit of Chicago everywhere. No matter how far the sounds themselves have strayed from the 909’s swinging patterns and sultry, powerfully emotional vocals, listening to house music in any form, audiences pay homage to what emerged from Chicago, whether he realizes it or not. Many ARC-billed Chicago DJs have been hosting their own Chicago parties on a regular basis for decades, disregarding the fleeting waves of mainstream attention that cyclically brush the genre and the city.

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