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Founder Luis Baro Discusses Year Three of Acid House Music “Funktion” Viva Acid

Written by on October 4, 2023

Now in its third year, Viva Acid celebrates the legacy of acid house and rave culture in Chicago, with four days of free conversations, DJ sets and workshops. Founder Luis Baro met with Vocalo’s Jesse De La Peña to discuss what attendees can expect this year.

Known for its rich legacy of house music, Chicago welcomes back Viva Acid for its third iteration to recognize acid house culture through an electrifying annual celebration. Founded by Luis Baro in 2021, Viva Acid has grown from a one-day event attracting 40 people to four days of in-person programming expected to bring out as many as 100 people each day. 

“It started as a concept of community building and celebrating rave culture-slash acid house, bringing in the elements from the past and trying … to look for that bridge between the old school and the new school, sharing some knowledge and experience,” Baro expressed. “The whole idea, really, is to encourage DIY culture and to motivate and inspire those to get out and create art.”

RELATED: Luis Baro Breaks Down ‘Viva Acid” — A Chicago Acid House Celebration This Week 

From Thursday through Sunday, this year’s Viva Acid will feature Ableton software workshops every day, plus conversations and DJ sets from active participants in the scene like CQQCHiFRUIT, John Simmons and Jana Rush. Live sets will take place at the historic Gramaphone Records in Lakeview, as well as Emporium Logan Square, Q Studios and Cerise Rooftop. Exclusive DJ mixes will also be spinning on Vocalo’s airwaves starting today through October 6. Additionally, Q Studios will host a gallery showcasing flyers from the Midwest rave scene.

“We encourage people to come, listen, engage, learn, get inspired,” Baro said.

Though Chicago-born, Baro currently lives in New York and returns to the city each year to celebrate the genre he loves. He joined Vocalo’s Jesse De La Peña to discuss the celebration of the house music subgenre he brings to Chicago each year. A full schedule of the “multi-day funktion”‘s events and free RSVPs are available on the Viva Acid website.

Jesse De La Peña: Hey guys, welcome back to the show. I’m Jesse De La Peña. This week is gonna be a lot of fun. We are getting together with Chicago native Luis Baro. He’s back in town with his Viva Acid event happening throughout the week. Welcome to the show, Luis.

Luis Baro: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it, Jesse.

JDLP: Yeah, I’m excited, man. We had a lot of fun last year. This is coming up on, what, year three?

LB: This is year three, exactly. 

JDLP: For the folks that may not be aware of the Viva Acid series that you bring to town, give us a little background, how it started and what’s new this year.

LB: So it started as a concept of community building and celebrating rave culture slash acid house, bringing in the elements from the past and trying to reintroduce some of the people that are in the community now, that are active, trying to look for that bridge between the old school and the new school, sharing some knowledge and experience bringing in people that can give some information to some young people or even people that are just looking to improve on their art. The whole idea, really, is to encourage DIY culture and to motivate and inspire those to get out and create art. And that’s either through fashion, through photography, through music, through DJing. And using this idea that acid house was a very DIY kind of punk rock-esque attitude. So it’s not necessarily about a 303, it’s more of a state of mind.

RELATED: Digging Into The Legacy of Chicago’s Gramaphone Records

JDLP: I know we’re kicking off on the fourth, coming up, October 4. How long is the actual series?

LB: The series runs from Thursday to Sunday, and we have a series of broadcasts on Vocalo, then we’re doing an in-store at Gramaphone [Records]. Then we open up at Q Studios on Thursday with the lectures and talks, and it’ll be open to the public. We’re going to have a Flyer Art Gallery showcasing the Midwest rave scene. And that’ll be there for people to come by and look at the flyers and there’ll be some t-shirts to pick up if you’d like. And you can sit in and be a part of one of the talks, and we encourage people to come, listen, engage, learn, get inspired.

JDLP: So who are some of the performers or artists that are involved this year?

LB: We have, for some of the events, we have Noncompliant, CQQCHiFRUIT with Jana Rush on Thursday at Emporium. Then on Friday night, we’re doing like an old-school rave with Hyperactive, Woody McBride and Mike Dearborn and Jaggy. And then Saturday, we’re gonna do something a little more traditional in a traditional venue, Smartbar, Eris Drew, Sevron. Sunday is a day event at Cerise at the Virgin Hotel. That’s Glenn Underground, Mystic Bill, John Simmons, and that’ll be our closing event. 

RELATED: DJ CQQCHiFRUIT Talks Finding Your Community

JDLP: Talk to us a little bit about the vocal participation. You know, we’re partnering and featuring mixes this week, tell us who our guests are this year.

LB: So we have Keefe, which is a really interesting, I wouldn’t call him new school, but newcomer, and he makes his really great breakbeat, jungle, rave style music. Then we have Houz’ Mon, which is traditional Chicago, old school acid, vinyl guy, great person. And John Simmons kind of, I guess, bridges that new school, old school sound.

JDLP: When you’re picking out, say, DJs, for this particular event, what’s a qualification to be a part of this? Because, I mean, there’s so many great DJs and only having a limited amount of nights and slots, what goes into picking a performer for one of these?

LB: For getting involved, as far as performing, rather, you’re performing at an event or you’re being featured on a broadcast, really, the main thing is being motivated and active. That’s really the criteria. If you’re someone that’s an active participant of the community today, then there’s a chance that we’ll reach out to you eventually, because it is limited.

James Serafini (left) of Gramaphone Records and Luis Baro (right), the founder of Viva Acid, holding a Roland TR-303 drum machine responsible for creating the signature acid house sound. Photo courtesy of Luis Baro.

JDLP: This is year three. Can you give us a little idea how things have kind of progressed, how it changed from that very first year to where you guys are now?

LB: Absolutely. So the first year was one day, and it was 40 people. The second year was three days, and I’m speaking on the lectures and the talks, so the second year was three days and 40 to 60 people every single day, with events to follow. This year, we’re expecting around 75 to 100 people for the lectures and the talks. And then the evening events are going to probably be hitting capacity, according to the venue size. 

JDLP: Nice.

LB: We’ve gone from 40 to 100 to 400. So we’ve been growing, and next year, who knows? It might be a couple thousand.

JDLP: What can people expect when you go to something like this? 

LB: We’re kicking off Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the Ableton workshop, and we have Orville Kline as the Ableton instructor, with various people collaborating. The idea is to learn how to arrange a song from loop to arrangement in one hour, and learn all the tips and tricks and all the new technology that’s out there, for someone that’s wanting to create music and maybe stuck in this loop mode. Then we have conversations about technology and the disruption to the music industry. Then we’re talking about safer spaces, activism in acid house.

And then on Friday, after our Ableton workshop, we have “Opportunities in Music,” to understand that it’s not necessary for you to be successful as a DJ. There are other opportunities within the music industry. And we have heavyweights like John Curley, the owner of TV Lounge in Detroit that’s going to come in and share a perspective. Our other conversation is “Beyond Inclusion” with KC Wray, Celeste Alexander, Jessica Fortune, and then “Urban Development & The Birth of Acid House,” with Jacob Arnold, Jerome Baker, Glenn Underground. And on Saturday, we’re always kicking off with our Ableton workshop, we have Jana Rush, Gettoblaster, then we move into “Staying Creative,” ways for artists to stay creative, with Geto Mark, Shaun Wright. And on Saturday, we’re closing off our workshops with “Dance Music in a Post-Pandemic World” with Joe Brandt, Jaggy, Steve Noah and myself as the moderator.

JDLP: It’s definitely like a little history lesson. I love the fact that we can get a little more in-depth on the background, where things started, the history, definitely tie that all in to a lot of the new generation that are throwing parties. So this is beautiful.

LB: Absolutely. It’s important for us to be able to share some of the wins and the losses, the struggles that we’ve had in the past, so that the people that are really motivated and active now in the scene can learn some of this stuff and not fall into the same pitfalls.

JDLP: Very true, very true. So how can people find out more information about the event series?

LB: Easily. You can go to, you can register there for all the events. Everything is free and open to the public.

JDLP: Perfect. Well, Luis, thank you very much. I look forward to seeing you this week!

LB: Thanks, likewise! And thank you so much for the airtime. 

JDLP: For sure.

Stay updated with Viva Acid by following the official Instagram account.

Interview and audio production by Jesse De La Peña

Written introduction by Morgan Ciocca and Blake Hall

Transcription and editing for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

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