Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Support: The World Underground

By Gene Wagendorf III   

The World Underground
John Yingling wants you to know that "good music still exists." While there's nothing remarkable about that in itself, the lengths to which he's willing to go to get the word out are truly astounding.

Our readers might be more familiar with John as the man behind Gonzo Chicago, the unquestioned authority on all things DIY scene in the city. If you've ever been to a basement or a warehouse to see shows, or zig-zagged across the city to catch every band on Record Store Day, you've probably seen John. He's up front, filming everything. He's outside, making friends, talking excitedly about bands only twenty people have heard of. In a culture where obscure musical knowledge is rewarded with impossible levels of Cool, John should be the baddest motherfucker in any given room. But then there's the truth about him: that he's one of the most down-to-earth people you'll ever meet.

Mr. Yingling's approachability, friendliness, and refreshing sincerity are his best qualities, with insane passion for and knowledge of underground music coming in at a close second. It's that combination that's allowed him to become one of the most respected members of Chicago's music scene without ever playing a note. Gonzo Chicago grew into a vital resource for local music fans, featuring information about upcoming shows alongside hours of excellent footage of some of the best bands going. As the project expanded, The Chicago Sonic Coalition was introduced, an event which I've gushed about on multiple occasions, and one that showcased just how much talent and creativity is kicking around Windy City basements.

Mortistork at The Chicago Sonic Coalition | Photo Credit: Ray Ellingsen
Now John is taking another step forward, and he needs your help.

The World Underground is an ambitious video series "documenting hour long moments in time of the ever-changing underground scenes around the world.  An ever-evolving, community driven video history." The first three installments focus on Chicago, Missoula, Montana and China. The series is set to be edited by Nathan Christ, director of the marvelous Austin music scene documentary Echotone, with animation by Jenna Caravello. Getting to China, of course, is where you come in. Five days ago John launched an indiegogo page to raise the funds to send him and his equipment to China, where he'll hook up with Josh Feola of Chinese underground music website Pangbianr. With Feola booking shows in Beijing and pointing John in the right direction elsewhere in the country, the foundation is set. Why China? John writes: "For as massive as China and its underlying music scene is, it's understandably pocketed, yet growing rapidly.  It's constantly evolving, and I think grabbing this moment, any moment, is important." If anyone is equipped to just drop into a foreign territory and start filming shows and interviewing bands and labels, it's Mr. Yingling. Just ask the people of Missoula, whose hearts he wormed into almost the moment he arrived there some months back.

Now, as with any good crowd-funding campaign, there are perks for donations. The World Underground is offering some excellent ones, including copies of the Echotone DVD, tea and honey packages from Montana Tea and Spice Traders and prints of Yingling's photography. Those are some killer incentives, but the real gems are the local tape and record pack (which features vinyl and cassette recordings from Moniker Records, Notes and Bolts, Lake Paradise, Solid Melts and more) and the videography package (which secures you three full days of John for whatever project you have in mind- music video, commercial, sex tape, whatever!).

Possible selections from the local tape and record pack incentive
Gonzo Chicago has given this city's music scene a lot since its inception in 2007, and it's fitting that the next step in that project's evolution calls upon the scene for help. Good music does still exist, and any donation towards The World Underground is an investment in it. John's travels have already highlighted some incredible music happening right now in Chicago and Missoula, and it'd be a shame not to have his camera turned on the rest of the world. As John writes: "This is not to shine a light on a dark corner of what's happening.  Those who come for the spectacle of it all never stick around.  This is not an authoritative stance on the matter, quite the opposite. What you see is what you get, what's happening now, and I guarantee you it'll be something exciting... You'll love it."

You can check out John Yingling's promotional video for The World Underground below, and head over to the indiegogo page to learn more and show your support.

The World Underground - Episode 1 : CHINA from GONZO CHICAGO on Vimeo.

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