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House of Vans provides platform for local artists

House of Vans: SESSIONS

House of Vans: SESSIONS

House of Vans: SESSIONS

PHOTOS BY CAMILLA FORTE

House of Vans

A small sign is the only indicator of what lies within an otherwise unidentified building

House of Vans Entrance

Behind a nondescript warehouse door lies the House of Vans

Skateboards at House of Vans

House of Vans is a hub of Chicago skater culture

House of Vans Photo Booth

The photo booth provides attendees with a way to document the night

Mural Painting and Beer

The open bar serves complimentary Goose Island beer

Vans Shoes

At the heart of House of Vans are the shoes and the culture the brand represents

Open Skate

A spacious indoor open skate park is available for all to enjoy

Aarron Jasper

Aaron Jasper, a local rapper , performed at the event

F.A.B.L.E

Chris Horace, the master of ceremonies who performs under the stage name F.A.B.L.E.

Bad Jokes Band

Bad Jokes from left to right: Dylan Fritz Mitch Stout, Brendyn Wirtz and Rocco Sabatino

Open to All Ages

SESSIONS is open to all ages, making the road diverse

Friends at House of Vans

Many attend SESSIONS with friends as a way to enjoy a fun and inexpensive night out

House of Vans: SESSIONS

Bad Jokes performing songs from their recently released album "Too Fat to Sk8"

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Rocco Sabatino and Mitch Stout

Jasper's Audience

Spectators enjoy Aaron Jasper's music

Skate and Music Culture

Musical performances are held throughout, adding to the atmosphere of the open skate

Ron Simonte

Ron Simonte partakes in the open skate.

House of Vans open skate

The open skate is a great opportunity for skaters of all skill levels to do what they love

Friends at House of Vans

Kiah Zellner-Smith and friends

House of Vans Mural

Street canvas artist Shelby Rodeffer

Lounge Area

There are multiple lounge areas throughout the venue for people to socialize and relax

Skaters and music lovers alike flocked to a spacious warehouse in the West Loop Wednesday night and were met with booming speakers, cavernous echoes of rolling wheels on concrete and the clatters of skateboarding tricks gone wrong.

Blogger Ron Simonte partakes in the open skate at House of Vans | Camilla Forte

The night was part of an ongoing event hosted by House of Vans Chicago called SESSIONS — a series of nights of free skating, live music and good vibes from 6 to 10 p.m Wednesdays at 113 N. Elizabeth St.

Located in venues around the world, House of Vans is a cultural hub of imagination, creative expression, artistry and of course, shoes.

In addition to the music showcase, the venue also features an open lounge area, a photobooth, professional live mural painting and open skate park access. SESSIONS also provides complimentary pizza and free Goose Island beer for those over 21.  

The most recent House of Vans SESSIONS event in Chicago featured performances by Bad Jokes, F.A.B.L.E., Aaron Jasper and others.

Rocco Sabatino and Mitch Stout performing at House of Vans on March 13 | Camilla Forte

“We’ve never had anything like this,” said Bad Jokes bassist Rocco Sabatino. “We get to play in this super cool place in front of all these people who are into this s—.”

SESSIONS provides a larger platform for local underground artists to gain exposure, introducing their music to individuals who wouldn’t normally listen to it.

Bad Jokes was formed in 2016 and includes Columbia College Chicago students Sabatino and Dylan Fritz, and College of DuPage students Mitch Stout and Brendyn Wirtz.

“Fast punky-punk, that’s our official genre,” Sabatino said.

“Nostalgic throwback garbage,” Mitch Stout corrected.

Rapper Aaron Jasper shared Bad Jokes’ sentiment of gratitude for the event.  “It’s such a great opportunity, but not too many people know about it,” he said.  “You only hear about it by word-of-mouth.”

SESSIONS is also an event for Chicago’s active skateboarding community, providing them with a space to socialize while doing what they love.

Ron Simonte, an active skater and skateboard blogger, was first invited to the House of Vans two years ago by his connections in Chicago’s skateboarding community. Simonte said coming to the event is a good way to “chill with the homies” while skateboarding and enjoying free beer.

SESSIONS street canvas artist Shelby Rodeffer | Camilla Forte

Hired as a street canvas artist for SESSIONS, Shelby Rodeffer agreed that the free beer and pizza are major incentives. Rodeffer first painted a mural for House of Vans during their 312 Day in 2018.

Spectators said they were drawn to SESSIONS because of the ambiance and aesthetic.

“It’s good people watching, music and art. We always go to these kinds of things,” said Kiah Zellner-Smith, who came with friends seeking an indoor event to escape the cold Chicago winter.

Master of ceremonies Chris Horace, known as F.A.B.L.E., noted that the atmosphere was what drew him to the event.

“I like the inclusiveness,” Horace said. “It’s a pretty welcoming environment despite the hustle and bustle. It’s kind of like a mini city.”

 

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