Imagine attending your first ever Lollapalooza festival, but instead of sweating it out alongside the estimated 400,000 people that attend each year, you are hitting the stage. For Oak Park native Miguel Chavez, that is exactly how his first time at Lolla went down.
The 22-year-old Oak Park native, who graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 2019, played electric guitar for Tyler Christian, taking the Bacardi stage on last Friday around noon.
“I was so hyped,” Chavez said. “I was very excited…it was really cool to come back and show everyone what I had been up to these past four years and how much I’ve grown as a musician and person.”
Chavez began dabbling in music around the age of 13, picking up the electric guitar after taking piano lessons for a few years. While in middle school, Chavez joined the local School of Rock, 219 Lake Street, Oak Park, and developed a strong passion for not only music but performing.
“It was a lot of fun, I really felt like I had a community there and I stuck with them until I was 18, graduated, and off to college,” Chavez said.
Chavez went off to study guitar performance at Berklee College of Music in Boston, from where he graduated this past May.
During his freshman year at Berklee, Chavez was in a metal band but performances and networking were halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During his junior year, Chavez was accepted into the Berklee Beyonce Ensemble, which is a large production under the direction of Tia Fuller, professor and artistic director, that plays homage to Beyonce’s 2019 Homecoming performance.
“I was really proud to be a part of something like that,” Chavez said. “Through that I met a lot of cool people.”
It was through a personal connection that Chavez ended up being a part of Tyler Christian’s band in 2021, receiving an invite through Instagram.
“It’s been great. Everyone in the band, I love them. They are some of my favorite people to work with, favorite people to play with,” Chavez said.
Chavez has played with Christian’s band in various artist showcases and other performances through Berklee and has done a few stripped down sets with Christian.
The band was scouted through the Berklee Popular Music Institute, which helps students book festival performances, and booked Lollapalooza.
“I was flabbergasted,” Chavez said. “Because outside School of Rock, I had never really played any shows in Oak Park or Chicago.”
Reminiscing on the performance, Chavez said his favorite part was the bonding that took place as the bandmates shared this experience.
“Playing the actual show was fantastic,” Chavez said. “The band was super tight, we were all super high energy, locked in with each other but the best part was being able to spend time with all these people…it was nice to bond on a deeper level since we were spending so much time together.”
Chavez took the stage to perform for thousands of people in the audience, which included his family and friends, who refused to miss his set, with his cousins coming in from Ohio.
“My family loves seeing me perform,” Chavez said. “They are really supportive which is really nice and something I don’t ever take for granted.”
The band flew back to Boston and Chavez is already looking forward to what is to come as he hopes to get into a studio and do session work. While he doesn’t have any live shows lined up, Chavez hopes to make the move to Los Angeles to continue to pursue music.
“Everyone I work with, everyone I like is moving out there,” Chavez said. “So it seems like a no brainer for me.”
And to other young local Oak Park musicians, Chavez gives this piece of advice:
“Learn to work with others, learn to take criticism without malice,” Chavez said. “Personability is a big part of the music industry.”