A cool breeze and unexpected sunshine refreshed attendees of the 32nd annual WIUX Culture Shock Music Festival on April 14.
Members of the crowd waved their arms and jumped to the beats of DJ Sweater Disco in the parking lot of Rhino’s Youth Center. Others enjoyed tacos and tortas from La Poblana Taco Truck or took a rest from dancing on one of three couches arranged in the parking lot.
“I really like that this event is free since I’m in school and I wouldn’t be able to afford to go to something like this normally,” said Leo Fravell, a junior at Bloomington High School North. “I’ve met a lot of new people and seen really cool music.”
Heaven Honey, a local band led by IU senior Jordan Gomes-Kuehner, kicked off the event with songs from its recently released album “Head Case.” The crowd clapped and cheered for the band as its performed its original song, “Angel,” and a cover of the Mazzy Star song, “Halah.” One attendee held up a lighter and swayed to the music while another spun a group of LED infused strings that resembled a horse's tail.
In between songs, Gomes-Kuehner told the audience she had always wanted to perform at Culture Shock and gave a shoutout to her mom in the audience.
To close the set, Gomes-Kueher thanked WIUX for making the event possible.
“Drink responsibly, ask for consent, choose empathy and stick around for Nice Try,” Gomes-Kuehner said.
Following the Heaven Honey performance, local DJ Lemondoza took the stage outdoors. Attendees swayed to the electronic dance music beats, while others gathered to paint a collective mural on wooden boards called the art wall.
A WIUX volunteer told participants the rules of the mural are that there are no rules.
The art wall from last year’s Culture Shock is housed at the WIUX music station, and volunteers said this one would be too.
Later in the day, Bloomington musician KALIACHARE enchanted the crowd with soaring vocals and rap songs sung over pre-recorded beats. The artist dropped to her knees during the song “Autopilot,” and waved her long ponytail around in a circle.
“Personally I am a big fan of Chicano Batman and Milo,” KALIACHARE said. “Being on the same lineup as Chicano Batman is such an honor.”
After a set from DJ Silkshirtnodrawls, sounds of high-hat cymbals drew the crowd indoors for a performance from brz, a local hip-hop sound artist and IU senior.
“Like many of you, I’m a student here at IU,” brz said. “I’m a senior and soon I’ll be going far away from here.”
The dance floor was packed and the crowd exploded with applause when brz announced his next song would be “Campus” from his 2018 album, “Adam.”
He invited the audience to sing along to the hook of the song if they knew it.
“I need to get away from here, even though I just arrived ‘cause I don’t wanna spend another minute in this class with these rich white women,” brz sang.
The crowd sang along and shouted their approval.
After the brz set, the audience flooded outside to the sounds of house music from local DJ Luther Blissett. Blissett began the set with a song called “Jack’s House” by DJ Mr. Fingers.
Blissett said the message of the song is the dance floor is for everybody.
“I’m interested in getting back the freedom of the dance floor,” Blissett said. “It is a place for people to get together no matter who they are.”
During Blissett’s set, attendees danced or browsed through the booths located beneath a large tent in the Rhino’s parking lot. At one booth, volunteers spoke to attendees about Dan Canon, a Louisville civil rights lawyer running for Indiana’s 9th Congressional District. The scent of Hopscotch Coffee wafted through the air and clothing from the Plato’s Closet booth fluttered in the wind.
Guests gathered again in Rhino’s for a much anticipated performance from Chicago rapper Rory Ferreira, known as Milo. The hot and sweaty crowd swayed in deep concentration in an attempt to understand the depth of the social commentary of Milo’s lyrics. He performed the song “A Terror Way Beyond Falling” from the 2018 album “sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face.”
“It’s a conspiracy to keep me ignorant,” Milo sang. “I’m gonna reverse engineer my way out of here.”
The final performance of the evening was Los Angeles band Chicano Batman. The line for the show stretched around the perimeter of the Rhino’s parking lot.
Amanda Martinez, sales director at WIUX, introduced Chicano Batman and surprised the crowd when she told them Chicano Batman was going to stay after the show to do a signing.
Chicano Batman took the stage to resounding applause and screams of joy from the audience. The crowd shook their hips and clapped along to the song “Flecha al Sol.” WIUX volunteers passed out glow sticks to audience members. For the remainder of the show, crowd members waved the glow sticks in the dim and humid venue.
“There is a lot of love coming from the Midwest,” said Bardo Martinez, lead vocalist of Chicano Batman. “I feel the West Coast-Midwest connection. Let’s stay connected.”
A previous version of this story misspelled the name of local DJ Luther Blissett. The IDS regrets its error.