The Birdhouse Lands in Chicago

Written by Megan Caruso

The wafting smell of fried dough doused in powdered sugar is one of those scents that snaps you back to your childhood, and specifically, the carnival – strobing lights over balloon-pop and ring-toss games, a towering Ferris wheel spinning in slow-motion, a carney missing three of his front teeth, grinning as he takes your money while you try to win your crush a stuffed unicorn for the sixth, maybe seventh time – ahh, the carnival! But will there be pet goldfish to win?

“I want there to be goldfish! That’s exactly what I want,” said Barclay Crenshaw, a hip-hop-house DJ, better known as his other persona, Claude VonStroke, creator of Dirtybird Records. I caught up with Crenshaw after his set last weekend at North Coast Music Festival to talk about his most recently planned shebang, the quickly approaching Birdhouse Festival.

This Saturday, Sept. 8, a whole flock of Dirtybird players are invading Chicago for the Birdhouse, a one-day house music fest wedged between dunk tanks and corn dog stands. The inaugural lineup will feature 10 artists, including the opening acts, Fancy Fux and Teknicoz. British DJ ZDS will feature KE on his set, followed by Will Clarke and Claude VonStroke himself. Two B2B sets account for the remaining four artists, with J. Phlip B2B Gene Farris and another set by Ardalan and Christian Martin. Four out of the ten artists (Fancy Fux, Teknicoz, KE and Gene Farris) are all Chicago locals.

The day will start at 12 noon at the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 UA in the West Loop – an unheard-of venue for a Chicago EDM festival and maybe the first of its kind to take place on the tradesmen’s grounds. At the time I talked to Crenshaw, he was just on his way to see it for the first time himself. Still, just a couple blocks from Union Park (where North Coast Music Festival reigned and got rained-on last weekend), the location is ideal: the grounds are just blocks away from the Ashland stop on both the Pink and Green L lines.

Crenshaw said his inspiration was to get back to that old-school carnival feel, the kind of place you used to hold hands on a first date. If all goes well this year, he hopes to make the Birdhouse Festival an annual installment to the Chicago summer festival scene. But who would sit in the dunk tank? Justin Martin, brother to Christian Martin?

“Hell, I’ll get in the dunk tank,” Crenshaw said.

Step up, step up! Who wants a shot at Claude VonStroke first?

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