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Luis Baro Breaks Down “Viva Acid” — A Chicago Acid House Celebration This Week

Written by on October 10, 2022

Viva Acid, a celebration of acid house and its roots in Chicago, is coming to the city and Vocalo’s airwaves this week. Jesse De La Peña sat down with organizer Luis Baro to discuss the event as well as the importance of the unique subgenre and culture.

Viva Acid is an immersive celebration of acid house culture, giving listeners and attendees an opportunity to learn and engage with the genre in its birthplace this week, from Oct. 10 through 16. 

Acid house is a subgenre of house music developed by Chicago DJs in the mid-’80s defined by specific synth basslines credited to DJ Pierre of house group Phuture and Derrick Harris AKA DJ Sleezy D. Acid house still has influences in modern hardcore and techno artists internationally, as well as in rave scenes throughout the U.S., UK and Europe, but Viva Acid organizer Luis Baro wants to pay tribute to the subgenre in the city where it was created.

“It’s reclaiming acid house, because it did come from Chicago,” Baro told Vocalo’s Jesse De La Peña. “It’s telling that story as authentic as possible, from the city.”

Viva Acid will be split up into four parts: five days of DJ mixes broadcast on Vocalo’s airwaves, four days of parties and nightclub events, three days of talks and lectures and one day of a photography exhibit from Lori Sapio showcasing the ‘90s rave scene. The DJ mixes on Vocalo include DJs Pierre of Phuture, K’Alexi Shelby, Hiroko Yamaura, Hyperactive, Craig Alexander and more. Talks will be held at Cafe Six06 in West Town, and dance parties will take place at Smartbar, Spybar and Le Nocturne.

Jesse De La Peña sat down with Luis Baro to discuss the acid house, Viva Acid, how to attend and tune in, and what attendees and listeners can expect. Stream their conversation now on MixCloud and find a full lineup of talks, dance parties and DJ mix times on Viva Acid’s website.

Jesse De La Peña: Give us an idea of what Viva Acid is all about, and what we can expect in this coming week.

Luis Baro: Viva Acid’s a celebration, and it’s a celebration of acid house culture. Acid house culture, to me, has a very DIY spirit. And this is where we like to share knowledge and experience, and where the talks come in. We’re doing five days on Vocalo, we’re having a Twitch stream on Wednesday, and then we’re having three days of talks at Cafe Six06 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from five to nine. Thursday night we’re having a dance event at Six06, Friday at Spy Bar, Saturday at smartbar and Sunday we’re doing a tea party from five to 11 at La Nocturne.

Luis Baro, photo courtesy of Mr. Baro.

JDLP: Let’s talk a little bit more about the lineup for the DJs for the Vocalo week.

LB: On Monday, we have DJ Pierre of Phuture, the creator of acid house. On Tuesday we have K’Alexi Shelby. Wednesday, it’s a back-to-back with Hiroko [Yamamura] and DJ Hyperactive. On Thursday, it’s Craig Alexander. And on Friday, it’s another back-to-back with Brenda and Mark Angel of Format.

JDLP: So it’s an all-encompassing thing, a little bit of a history lesson and kind of a look as to what is still going on in this day and time.

LB: It’s reclaiming acid house, because it did come from Chicago. It’s telling that story as authentic as possible, from the city. It’s having these lectures in the talks to try to inspire and encourage young producers to go forward and make music and keep leaving a mark for the city. And then it’s also a celebration, and that’s where… we get together, and we do what we do. We dance, and we listen to music and we mingle.

JDLP: Going into this, it’s been a little while, in the planning. So when did this idea first come to you, and how’d it come to you?

LB: Well, it came to me in around, I want to say, late 2018, 2019. Right around then, I was discussing doing an event with a friend of mine in Chicago. But, in all honesty, my wife was like, “Why don’t you do something different?” I was fortunate enough to experience the Red Bull Music Academy for three years, because I worked for them. And I saw that the talks that they were having were just amazing and so inspiring, so I wanted to bring that… sharing knowledge and insight and experience to future up-and-coming or inspiring producers in Chicago.

JDLP: You said you broke it down into — is it three different parts? Four different parts?

LB: Yeah! So there’s five days of radio shows. There’s three days of lectures and talks. There’s four days of parties. And then also, we squeezed in on Thursday a photo exhibit, on Thursday night with Lori Sapio. She’s going to be exhibiting some photos from the ’90s rave scene, because that, to me, speaks acid. That was acid house culture.

JDLP: So, you want to talk a little bit about the guests and who we can expect to see at this event? 

LB: From Chicago, we have a wide array of people, from Sold to Hiroko, DJ Hyperactive, DJ Pierre, the founder of Phuture, Craig Alexander. And then from England, we have Post Human and Luke Vibert. An old-school favorite that everyone loves is going to be playing on Sunday, Mystic Bill. Along with supporting acts like Gene Hunt.

JDLP: What do people really need to know about this particular event? And it’s importance in music, in Chicago?

LB: I think the main thing is to understand that we’re here to share knowledge, experience and insight from some of the leaders or forefathers of the industry. I’m very focused on encouraging all, in young people that want to create art, to start creating it, to not wait, to ask questions and to be engaged. And I think, because of the pandemic, this is a really good time for people to come together again in person, versus doing it… through online. I think, a face-to-face, having people in one room is really important. It’s how you share ideas, or even create opportunities.

JDLP: How can people find out more about the event? Is there a website, is there something on social media?

LB: You can go to Vivaacid.com That’s probably the easiest to find. You can also find us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Viva Acid. Type it in, you’ll find it. You can register for free for all the lectures and talks at Vivaacid.com.

Learn more about Viva Acid on their website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Written by Morgan Ciocca and Joshua X. Miller

Interview and audio production by Jesse De La Peña

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