Punk rock scene puts on diabetes benefit show

By Kendall Polidori, News Editor

Courtesy Punk Rock Raduno
The T1 Fest is an inaugural two-day benefit to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes, held Nov. 8–9 in Joliet.

After a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes at 18 years old, Sam Porter has been using his passion for music to open up conversations and understanding around the disease.

Porter—lead singer and guitarist for Chicago-based punk rock collective Kali Masi—was thrown off by his diagnosis, and was afraid it would prevent him from pursuing his dream of creating and performing live music.

For Porter, discussing the topic is made easier through events like the T1 Fest—an inaugural two-day benefit to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes. Taking place Nov. 8 and 9 in Joliet at The Forge, 22 W. Cass St., all proceeds from the festival will go directly to JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“I was so excited [to be invited] because I have been trying to connect those dots for a long time,” Porter said. “To be able to put myself in front of other people that have [diabetes] and feel like they might not be able to do the things they want to do … I would love to make people feel like it is not such a wall [in their life].”

The festival blossomed from co-Founder Jim Costanzo, who has been fundraising for JDRF since his nephew was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nearly three years ago.

“We saw the support system they had in place, so we wanted to get involved and help them fundraise,” Costanzo said.

One aspect not many people consider is the cost for treatment and how underfunded and underinsured treatment for the condition is, Costanzo said. He noticed many people could not afford treatment, or the best possible care.

When thinking of how he could contribute to the cause, Costanzo recalled benefit concerts he used to attend. With his love for music, he decided a festival would be the perfect fit, and the responses he got from interested people left him in awe.

“It was a bittersweet scenario,” Costanzo said. “We learned there were so many more people who were battling this illness.”

With a complete punk rock lineup, Costanzo said when he thinks of music, especially punk rock, he sees it as more of a community than just a genre.

Courtesy Michelle Johnson
Sam Porter, lead singer and guitarist for Chicago-based punk rock collective Kali Masi, will perform at the T1 Fest. Porter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 18.

“Punk rock, in its most embryonic form, is an issue-based genre,” said Chicago-based vocalist and bassist Brendan Kelly. “It is very reactionary toward things that aren’t going the way you want it to.”

Kelly has played a number of benefit shows in his years as a musician and said it is a win-win because he gets to play music and help people at the same time.

“If you are lucky enough to have a dream job where you get to play music for people and people pay you for it, the least you can do is be aware of that and try to give back,” Kelly said.

Dan Vapid, the lead vocalist and guitarist for the Chicago band Dan Vapid and the Cheats, will also be performing. He said he is proud to be part of the festival and that it is open to musicians from all genres. While the festival is punk rock centric, Vapid said as long as it is raising awareness and creating a positive change, the genre should not matter.

Porter said it is great to see people connect with others and focus on one thing for a moment—all while using music to raise awareness for a cause.

Admission to the festival is $15 for Friday entry, $40 for Saturday and $50 for a weekend pass. An afterparty, 21 and over, will also be held Saturday, Nov. 9 for $10.

“I would be stoked to graduate into a world that is a little bit more open to talking about it,” Costanzo said. “I would love to live in a world where everyone is down to talk about what they are going through.”