Even in its first year, Chreece felt like something that belonged in Indianapolis, maybe even something that had been missing.
Already the largest hip-hop festival of performers in the city’s history, Chreece sold out within a few hours of its start time Saturday afternoon, and by nightfall had filled up the sidewalks of Fountain Square on Virginia Ave. Wannabe attendees still paced back and forth, pleading for a wristband or another way to get in. Cyphers popped up in random spots, huddled around beatboxers and eager spitters. Most of the performers had stuck around as well, receiving daps and love from the community, but also giving them out. It was all love.
Festival organizers Oreo Jones and Musical Family Tree outdid themselves by assembling this idea in less than eight months, and they deserve all the thanks in the world for giving this scene the type of event that it deserves. Organizing music festivals is a ridiculous undertaking, and hip-hop festivals––for reasons that are often unfair––don’t always get the same opportunities to be undertaken. Chreece, however, lived up to its portmanteau namesake of “cheers” and “peace.” Anyone anticipating violence found nothing of the sort.
That’s also thanks to the venues that helped hold down this festival. At different times, the Hi-Fi, Joyful Noise, General Public Collective, the White Rabbit, and the Pizza King were overflowing with attendees, spilling out of the intimate venues, into the sidewalks and often into the streets. Here’s hoping you didn’t try to drive through Downtown Fountain Square that night.
At times, it was hard to tell the performing rappers from the fans. They moved eagerly between venues, trying to catch as much of the short-but-lively 20-minute sets as they could and joining the stage to drop a guest verse.
Those moves offered an interesting way to look at Chreece and the development of Indy’s rap scene, where the rappers are its biggest fans. This trait isn’t necessarily unique to Naptown, but the level of support these emcees offer each other is, especially in a genre that thrives on competition. Even Jones himself was a performer, stopping his day-long runaround only to hit the stage with the Ghost Gun Collective.
That’s the kind of rap scene Indianapolis has developed during the last year-plus: supportive and open. In that sense, seeing these rappers thrive at Chreece and enjoy themselves is a blessing; they helped build it.
So shout out to everyone who performed, everyone who attended, and everyone who helped organize Chreece. Not only did it span all sides of the city, but multiple generations of Indianapolis hip-hop as well. It felt like a special inauguration, both intensely local and ready to build––not unlike the scene itself right now.