In January 2017, I treked through a nasty Chicago snow storm to attend a free WKQX Queued Up Artist Showcase at Double Door. Having only lived in Chicago for six months at the time, I was going to any and every live event I could afford to fit into my busy work/school schedule. I had seen a flyer for the showcase while attending a monthly Simmer Down Sound Reggae night in the sweaty, smoke-filled Double Door basement and decided I would give the upcoming pop rock show a chance.
Although none of the three bands on the lineup sounded like something I’d immediately reach for, I ended up being blown away by their live performances. I connected with two of the groups — Bleeker and The Wrecks — after the show, and just two weeks later, my interviews with both of the bands ran on my new music blog.
I continued to post short interviews and recaps of the underground DIY shows I attended (as my increasingly busy school schedule allowed), and my coverage increased during the summer as I attended more and more shows. In the fall, I decided to host a college radio show as an extension of the blog, and Locals Only quickly took off once I began live streaming my weekly radio broadcasts on Facebook.
From my first radio show in November 2017 to my last show in June 2019, there was not a moment when I didn’t feel lucky to be working closely with the local talent that exists across the city. I played a wide assortment of music from independent artists; interacted with regular listeners via social media; premiered new songs on-air; and gave away tickets to concerts and festivals.
My weekly commitment to the radio show left little time to pursue my original goal of regularly publishing written coverage of Chicago’s DIY music communities. I debuted music videos on the blog and was lucky enough to have several guest writers publish reviews and personal essays, but one key element of my vision for Locals Only was missing: collaboration. While planning and promoting shows, doing my best to publish regularly, attending school over-time and working full-time, I was rarely able to collaborate with Chicago creatives in the capacity that I longed to.
Now, Locals Only is back in the format I first envisioned it — an online print & media publication. With the time commitment of the radio show off my shoulders, I’m excited to return to writing feature articles and in-depth interviews. In addition to the content I personally plan to write & publish, I want this platform to be open and collaborative; any Chicago creative who wants to use their talents to help document the city’s vibrant rock, punk & metal communities is welcome to share this online space.
For those who supported Locals Only as a radio show, I’m so thankful you’re still here. Although the format has changed, I hope my writing, playlists & whatever else this blog achieves can give you that same connection to Chicago’s music scene. For those who are new to my reporting, please reach out! Let’s work together to document & share local music.
Nikki Roberts, Founder & Editor-In-Chief