Despite financial struggles and relocations over the years, the music venue, art gallery and DIY project incubator continues to shine as a space for artistic expression. The back story at Local Spins.
Tucked away in a nondescript corner of the bustling Creston Neighborhood, The DAAC stands out as one of the most unique performance spaces in Grand Rapids.
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Home to a staggering number of artists and events, including hip-hop dance parties, album-release listening shows and full-band performances, the longtime West Michigan, all-ages staple is still at it.
Weathering a global pandemic, change of locations and rising property taxes, The DAAC’s mission focuses on creating an inclusive, eclectic, all-ages space for the residents of Grand Rapids to convene.
“During the pandemic, along with every other venue, we were experiencing really tough hardships. Because we couldn’t bring anybody in and we couldn’t have shows,” says Lorenzo Aguayo, Jr., a member of The DAAC’s Core Committee.
“We’d built some savings up over the years, of course, to just pay for the building and the rent. But it put us at a loss after it all. We had less wiggle room to exist.”
Still, The DAAC at 1553 Plainfield Ave. NE has continued a regular event schedule, which has featured artists such as Jamon Miller, LVRS, Y-Not, Hail Your Highness and many more.
“The DAAC was one of the first venues I secured on my own,” said Jamon, a hip-hop artist from Grand Rapids. “The floor has some cool art on it, the staff is super helpful and the stage is cool.”
A few steps from Plainfield Avenue with an alleyway entrance, its interior is a simple brick construction with a stage at the front of the room. There’s a small kitchenette and a spray-painted squid on the cement floor representing the venue’s logo.
During shows, the space comes alive. LVRS was a favorite of Aguayo’s, a mid-Michigan indie-rock band known for dreamy riffs and buzzing energy. Progressive neosoul band Earth Radio from Grand Rapids held a listening party last year for release of its much-anticipated record, “After the Plague,” an immersive experience both for the artists and the audience.
As for its future, The DAAC has the next couple of months mapped out. This includes an open jam at 7 p.m. Feb. 26, weekly meditation workshops, yoga and fitness sessions, and regular public meetings about the space.
EMBRACED BY THE COMMUNITY AND DEDICATED TO INCLUSIVITY
One thing remains certain: a focus on inclusivity.
“We are all-inclusive. People who come here, (come) from all walks of life. We support everybody, we always have. We don’t tolerate any racism, hate, sexism, anything of that nature,” says Aguayo.
“It’s a space for people to express themselves freely, whether that be through physical media or music. It’s important to validate those forms of expression. It shows that this is something that’s truly for the community and I believe we’re embraced by the community.”
The venue’s impressive, long history — which began in 2003 on South Division Avenue as the Division Avenue Arts Collective — is dotted with big names who got their start performing at the all-ages venue, including internationally acclaimed Grand Rapids post-hardcore band La Dispute.
Although it was forced from its longtime home on Division Avenue in 2013 when the building was sold, The DAAC eventually found permanent quarters on Plainfield Avenue in 2019, allowing it to maintain its “do-it-together” approach.
“To me, the DAAC is legendary,” said singer-songwriter Jonny Carroll. “They have been a pillar of the GR music scene for ages, ever-evolving and adapting through the hurdles of varying change.
“Despite moving locations over the years, their heart has remained intact — which speaks volumes to their resiliency. I’ll always be so proud that I had my first album-release show at the DAAC.”
Copyright 2024, Spins on Music LLC