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33rd annual Culture Shock Festival draws a crowd at Alumni Hall


Aerial silk dance instructor Olivia Miller dances April 20 at Culture Shock in Alumni Hall at the Indiana Memorial Union. Miller teaches aerial silk dancing at Aerialogy in Indianapolis. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

The Starbucks at the Indiana Memorial Union was closed Saturday afternoon. But that didn’t stop IU students from flocking to the IMU to study for finals week, nor did the aerial dancing, voguing and loud music in Alumni Hall.

The 33rd annual Culture Shock Festival, run by local student radio station WIUX, took place in Alumni Hall on Saturday. Despite the rainy weather and the festival’s subsequent move indoors, many attended the day of art, music and culture.

Vendors in an adjacent room included booths from the children’s science museum Wonderlab where attendees could experiment with the science of sound, bubble tea shop Bapu Teahouse and a local henna tattoo artist.

Food trucks available to festival-goers along Seventh Street included The Big Cheeze, Seasons in Bloom and La Poblana Taco Truck.

Crowds started to gather at the IMU at 11 a.m., but doors didn’t open until 1 p.m. The performances started at 1:15 p.m. with a set by ktfaithful, the stage name for Bloomington singer-songwriter and IU junior Katie Faith O’Neill.

“It was really natural,” she said. “Seeing my friends made it feel better.”

Next, DJ MADDØG took to the turntables in front of the stage, wearing rainbow platform boots and a neon orange crop top while waving her long ponytail in the air. She spun fast-paced future house and pop remixes as voguers drew in the crowd in front of the setup.

Later, during psychedelic rock band Boa’s set, the guitarist leaped onto the speaker scaffolding to play a solo.

“We’re Boa,” bassist Shane Spader said at the start of the set. “Let’s boogie.”

Members of VD Collective took turns spinning before the last five acts, sampling a variety of music from disco to Death Grips, the experimental rap and hip hop group.

The first headliner, Katherine Paul’s Portland-based musical project Black Belt Eagle Scout, performed a song called “Indians Never Die.”

“Being in a university setting, it looks like New England territory,” she said to a cheering crowd. “So fuck the colonizers.”

Chicago trio Lala Lala tried to connect with the college-age crowd by making up sentences using popular lingo.

“In this house, I’m baby and daddy is my problematic fave,” the band’s singer Lillie West read off her phone.

Next to last of the night was the pop trio SHAED, whose members said they hit up popular Bloomington hotspots such as Mother Bear’s, The Chocolate Moose and The Back Door.

SHAED performed its original song “Melt,” which lead singer Chelsea Lee said is about her experience at a major record label. Later, the crowd sang along to every word of the band’s cover of “Take Me to Church” by Hozier.

“I’m so excited for SHAED,” IU sophomore Hannah Cougill said earlier in the day. “I just started listening to them, and they sound like they’re going to be so good live.”

Cougill also worked the festival as a member of WIUX and said preparing for Culture Shock had been a long but rewarding process.

By the time VD Collective was spinning its last set and Chicago rapper Saba was about to take the stage, Alumni Hall was at capacity with a line of people waiting to get in. IU sophomore Dhayshaneil Booker made it to the second row of the crowded room to see Saba.

“I listen to him to relax,” said. “He has a real chill vibe.”

However, during the set, crowds pushed against the metal barricades as the rapper took the stage. Security yelled at those in the front rows to step back. A large dance circle formed in the middle of the crowd as Saba performed his song “Westside Bound 3.”

“And I’m from the part of the city they don’t be talking about,” he rapped. “I gave the west side a new meaning.”

At one point, Saba instructed the crowd to keep their hands up for an entire song. A sea of hands swayed back and forth as he rapped, almost perfectly in time.

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