URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Stages in the C-U area have been empty since the pandemic began, but one venue is celebrating local music virtually.
What’s Goin’ On started as a way to support local artists in town by having a free virtual festival. After the murder of George Floyd, organizers wanted to do more.
“This was primarily to talk about what’s happening now with racial violence and social injustice,” says WilliamGold, a performer and event designer.
The title may seem a little familiar for some, but for this venue, the meaning behind the Marvin Gaye song sparked inspiration for the event.
Organizers say Gaye asked the question, “What’s goin’ on?” during a time of crisis; similar to what is happening now.
“It’s about highlighting a lot of agendas that are… That currently exist. We had a panel yesterday on anti-blackness within the Asian community and what that looks like even within Greek life,” says Gold.
People also talked about the importance of youth activism and preventing community violence.
Gold says he wanted to bring people together on these issues and virtually celebrate local artists.
“It’s giving people a chance to feel the stage, literally you know. That’s a different feeling in itself. To have a microphone in front of your face, to have people watching you… Even if it’s 10-15 folks in the room. To hear your music on speakers. It’s a totally different feeling.”
And for some artists, like Trouble Chasin’, this is the first time in months they got to perform.
“As artists, we kind of thrive off that feedback and just like not having that platform to receive that in real time has been real rough,” says Chase Baby, who is part of the duo.
Although Chase says it has been rough, performing at What’s Goin’ On felt right.
“Even though there was no like fans there personally, there was a stream of comments, ‘Oh, who are these guys?’ and ‘Oh, this is one of my favorite songs.” So it just felt super good to just feel that again.”