Zoey Victoria
Zoey Victoria Credit: Photo by Sienna Szustak

Zoey Victoria has been a vital force in Chicago’s DIY underground since becoming infatuated with the scene in high school. Now 22, she’s managed artists such as Cold Beaches and Morinda and founded the Femifest Music and Art Festival, which would’ve had its sixth year in 2020. She’s also helped launch the DIY CHI Mutual Aid Fund, which collaborated with the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers last month on a stellar livestreamed benefit at the Hideout that featured Gossip Wolf faves Tenci, Ariel Zetina, and Lala Lala. Last week Donnie Biggins, who founded booking and promotion company Harmonica Dunn in 2012, announced that he’s hired Victoria to help curate talent at Tonic Room in Lincoln Park. “She has immersed herself in live music and has become a fixture in both its underground scene and in organizing for a more equitable and liberating industry and world,” Biggins wrote in a statement. At Tonic Room, which Biggins bought in 2016, the two of them will work together to “create a venue environment that uplifts marginalized voices and truly puts the artist first.”

Last week, Chicago rapper CantBuyDeem dropped a video for “Benny the Butcher Owes Me $500,” and as you’d expect, there’s a story behind the single’s title. It refers to a recent series of alleged scams run by a promotion company called Da Block 365, which partnered with popular rappers (Fat Joe, DMX, Jadakiss) to persuade aspiring rappers to pay for a slot on a mixtape presented by the big-name artist. Unsurprisingly, the resulting mixtapes were overstuffed with unknowns and promoted poorly if at all. Deem heard from Benny the Butcher (of the Griselda collective), and, well, now he’s out a few hundred bucks. The lyrics to “Benny the Butcher Owes Me $500” aren’t actually about the incident, but Deem combines smoothness and precision with a muscular confidence that ought to convince Benny to record a proper collaboration with him.

  • The video for “Benny the Butcher Owes Me $500,” directed by Cantbuydeem and Underdawg Visuals

In December, dozens of great Chicago musicians contributed to Warm Violet, a compilation benefitting the mutual-aid network Chicago Community Jail Support. On Thursday, February 11, comedian Clare Austen-Smith hosts a Hideout livestream to celebrate Warm Violet and benefit CCJS. Chicago comedians and musicians—including Ohmme, Nnamdï, and Bone Reader—will perform as part “A Very Special Valentine’s Day.” Tickets cost $10, and the show kicks off at 7 PM central.  v

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