The World Underground - Episode 1 : CHINA

A new series documenting moments in time of underground spaces around the world.
John Yingling
Chicago, Illinois
United States
1 Team Member

WE DID IT!  THANK YOU doesn't really do it justice.  

People are asking if they can still donate.  OF COURSE!  Paypal :  If you want to donate in another way, just send us an e-mail, and we'll accomodate you.

The support was intense. It happened, because of you. You all stepped up HARD. What's next? All the perks will ship out in August. I leave in early September, and will be circling the country for 2 months, with a long stint in Beijing. I might just be dropping into the middle of China, and following a band on tour. I really hope it happens. I will return, finish Missoula, and Chicago, get them out as soon as we can in 2014, and keep going. You made a total pipe-dream become a reality. Some INSANE stuff is in the works. We won't let you down. Follow the social media.  Things are still coming together.  Ya'll are gonna love this. Guaranteed. Thank you.  

A short summary :

The World Underground.  A new series documenting hour long moments in time of ever-changing underground scenes around the world.  An always evolving, community driven video history.  The first 3 episodes to focus on China, Montana, and Chicago, IL.  The bands, labels, people, and what's happening now.  Future locations to be announced.  To be edited by Echotone director Nathan Christ, with animation by Jenna Caravello.

You really need the full story :

How do you sum up a decade in a few paragraphs?  After spending years enveloped in the Green Bay punk rock scene, I moved to Chicago in 2007.  I started filming all of these phenomenal bands blowing away 50 kids in dirty warehouses or dark basements.  Paper Mice.  Lechuguillas.  Tiger Hatchery.  I did this for years on a mediocre point-and-shoot.  I wanted to try and capture how good this all really was.  I started a website called Gonzo Chicago.  It originally included just one sentence.  What this turned into, I didn't expect.  The community took hold of it.  After some push from people I trusted in Chicago, I hesitantly ran a crowdsourced fundraiser on this very site for new gear.  I didn't think it would work.  It was successful, and I raised $3,600 in 30 days, kept going, harder than ever.  What I captured was a tightly knit group of kids doing things exactly the way they wanted to.  Uncompromising, they released tapes, vinyl, toured through the traditional means.  Chicago was exploding with great things when I left.  Toupee, RUNNING, Mayor Daley.  I've kept a keen eye on it.  The constant change of this landscape is a main reason I do what I do. 

Independent bands are playing stadiums, have songs in car commercials, winning artist of the year Grammy awards.  Ultra-famous comedians are self-releasing their own DVD's.  Even the good bands are releasing music via Adult Swim.   The wide swathe of the internet has made music and information immediately accessible.  Never before has music been so easy to find.  Police are pretending to be punk rock kids on the internet to bust house shows.  Many bands prefer the anonimity of underground shows, preferring to make a handful of kids go wild in a basement than to have a half filled room of people arms folded.  These shows will continue, because they have to.  I realize this is not a new concept, both what's happening, and me documenting it.  Many documentaries have and will continue to be done.

As Gonzo Chicago grew, I started writing more, for both myself, and other sites like Brooklyn Vegan, and NYC's Impose Magazine.

Missoula took me by surprise when I moved here last September.  As much heart as Chicago, on a smaller scale.  Different tape and record labels.  Different locals, and a different stream of touring bands.  But the ideals are the same.  Do good work, treat people well, support the community.  I moved here as 2 seemingly legendary spaces, The Lab, and The BSMT, had recently closed.  Zoo City Apparel was just heating up as I strolled into town, hosting White Mystery, Thee Oh Sees.  It has since closed.  Ever since, the Ole Beck VFW, which was already doing a great job, was left to pick up the slack.  Since then, we have started putting on all-ages shows in the spectacular Zootown Arts Center.  The "Z.A.C.C.", so they call it, is a local non-profit, but here's the thing, it's the same room as "the BSMT" in an untirely unrelated coincidence!!  Missoula bands like Magpies and King Elephant are blowing me away consistently.  Recently we re-launched the "BSMT" into what is now Missoula's only option for all-ages shows.  I am honored to be this deeply involved with these communities.

As it all grew, scene reports came in from around the world.  People letting me know what I knew existed.  This is happening everywhere.  Michale Coleman wrote me from Missouri and said he started filming DIY shows because of what he'd seen.  China, Montana, all over Europe, Japan, Australia.  Boise.  Myanmar.  China came on my radar after I interviewed Handsome Furs, fresh off a long tour in the PRC.  For over a year, I wondered how I could get there.  I dug around, eventually cleared my throat and e-mailed Josh Feola of China's Pangbianr.  He agreed to book shows in Beijing, and line me up with other regions such as Guangzhou.  There will be others.  For as massive as China and its underlying music scene is, it's understandably pocketed, yet growing rapidly.  It's constantly evolving, and I think grabbing this moment, any moment, is important.

I will spend September and October in the PRC, filming shows both naturally, and ones we set up, different regions, interviewing labels and bands.  China being the first episode, Missoula and Chicago are well on their way to being finished.  I will finish filming those by my own means upon my return.  I hope to release all three episodes in 2014, and continue on.   

I can no longer deny or downplay the potency of what I do.  I only move forward when communities deliver an undeniable push.  After Nathan Christ jumped on board to edit, and Josh Feola agreed to book shows in Beijing, I received funding a new camera free and clear.  I can't deny that this is the right path.  It's all I want to do.  This is extremely important to me, and many others, so I hope you'll join me.

What We Need

What are you going to use my $6,000 for?

Indiegogo's take-away estimate : $5,600

Travel will take a good bite out of this.  Between plane, train, VISA, and other assistance : $1,600

Post processing, video and sound editing.  Translation support.  Supporting the communities I'll be attending shows in for 2 months.  I'm honored to have Nathan Christ editing this project.  I have commissioned the wondrous Jenna Caravello to do animation.  $2,000.

Partial expenses.  This would be considered a no-budget documentary by proper standards.  Consider this the fundraiser for the first three episodes.  With an upgraded camera, I believe even with limited resources, I can still tell a good story.  However, while I can live and eat cheaply in China for 2 months, this is only covering a partial amount of the full cost.  Hard drives.  Sound.  The costs are immense.  Already being in debt, I must defray some of the costs of this.  $1,500.

Perk fulfillment and printing costs : $500

I'm not a huge fan of Paypal, outside of the extra fees they take.  It's on as an option, but if you'd like to send me payment in a different method, feel free to contact me.

I doubt everyone will be into this idea.  Will I have fun doing this?  Absolutely.  This is not a vacation, and I take what I do seriously.  After working 60 hours a week to stay afloat, I realize I am simply unable to fund this myself, and it must be done. 

Local goods you get for donating!

VINTAGE hand-scribed smarmy POSTCARDS from Montana.  Bonus!

LOCAL TEA AND HONEY from Montana Tea and Spice Trading coupled with honey from the amazing Arlee Apiaries. 


DVD's of the Austin documentary ECHOTONE.  I love this movie.  It introduced me to the wonderful Dana Falconberry.  Consider it :

"Internationally known as 'The Live Music Capital of the World,' Austin's music culture has led it to become one of the world's most sought-after destinations. As nearly two dozen high-rises pop up throughout the city amidst economic downfall, how does the working musician get along? This lyrical documentary provides a telescopic view into the lives of Austin's vibrant young musicians as they grapple with questions of artistic integrity, commercialism, experimentation, and the future of their beloved city. Directed by Nathan Christ and photographed by Robert Garza, Echotone is a cultural portrait of the modern American city examined through the lyrics and lens of its creative class."

*UPDATE* : Colin Frangos is now including his documentary via download code and DVD!  Take a look at an amazing collaboration.


HEY HEY WHAT is the secret handshake that spans decades and generations of underground rock and roll. Nothing is explicitly stated, yet it will tell you everything you need to know about the noisy heart that has kept rock and roll exciting since it's inception. This is the sound that doesn't fit in. This is the sound that kicks. This is the sound of art for and by loners, losers, and outcasts. 
Michael Yonkers (born, 1948) has been working with The Blind Shake (born, 1980s) off and on since 2003 and creating some of the most vital rock and roll of his or anybody's career. This documentary contains footage from the recording of Period and several live performances. 

$20 - Download Code!  Includes an e-mail of some of Blind Shake's performance at the OLE BECK VFW last week in Missoula, MT

$35 - DVD!  Includes a full live show!


A hand-picked TAPE AND RECORD COLLECTION from some of the best labels in Chicago and Montana:


Caffeinated Recordings

Lillerne Tapes

Solid Melts

Moniker Records


Notes $ Bolts

Missoula's AL HADID, and more...

*UPDATE : Chicago's NOTES & BOLTS is now throwing down on this perk level!!!!*


Sickly designed T-SHIRTS from Josh Scholl's SKIM MILK.  I've been watching Josh Scholl develop his brand in an totally uncompromising way for years, even after a complete name change.  In a world where Threadless is king of Chicago (and for good reason), he continues to push forward and release his twisted vision on what shirts should look like :


ART PRINTS.   To say Montana has been kind to my cameras is an understatement.  If you follow any of the ways you can view my work, and would like a custom request, feel free to contact me.  If it prints well, I will display it in whatever way you'd like.  Years of landscape, music, and general craziness.  I'd prefer to surprise you with these. 

...there's more.  There will be some surprises going out in these donations.  All donors will be thanked on the website. 


The Impact

In a perfect world, the global community will get involved in this, and in 10 years, maybe I will have 50 episodes done that we can all look back on.  All those closed spaces, broken up bands.  From an archival standpoint, it's already there.  Terabytes from Chicago.  Montana.  Boise.  I'm only moving forward when communities push me forward.  After receiving an e-mail from someone telling me I was the cause of them having "the best shared musical experiences of their lives", I knew I must continue, and grow this.  That's exactly what I'm after.  The point was always, and will remain to get what I think is good to people who may not have found it otherwise. 


I understand not everyone will be into this.   I'd like to think been entrusted to do what I do for a reason.  My number one concern is uncompromising discretion and tact, as I take these communities as seriously as you do.


This is not to shine a light on a dark corner of what's happening.  Those who come for the spectacle of it all never stick around.  This is not an authoratative stance on the matter, quite the opposite.  What you see is what you get, what's happening now, and I guarantee you it'll be something exciting.  I'm extremely excited at what's been filmed even before the recent camera got funded.  You'll love it. 


I hope you'll join me in this.  All I can picture is Matthew Lillard in "Hackers" right now.  I can't do it without you. 


Thank you for your time.


Inquiries, thoughts, questions :




Find This Campaign On
raised by 163 people in 1 month
102% funded
0 time left
$6,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
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This campaign ended on July 20, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    Fire starter!

    A thank you on our social media sites, the credits, a high-five in person. If you know me, or would like to, well-mixed drinks when we see each other next.

    22 out of 100 claimed
  • $20USD
    HEY HEY WHAT : Download Code!

    HEY HEY WHAT : A documentary spanning a relationship between THE BLIND SHAKE & the legendary MICHAEL YONKERS. Set for release later this year, Colin Frangos has captured a legendary collaboration for all to see. *includes an e-mail of footage we just took from the Blind Shake's set at Ole Beck VFW in Missoula!*

    7 out of 50 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2013
  • $25USD
    Fuel Giver!

    A smarmy vintage postcard from from Montana! Includes a hand-bill from our personal collection.

    27 out of 40 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013

    Echotone DVD : Austin TX

    One of my favorite music documentaries. An intense, poignant, and spectacular look into the Austin music scene. I'm honored to have the director edit this project.

    20 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $35USD

    HEY HEY WHAT : A documentary spanning a relationship between THE BLIND SHAKE & the legendary MICHAEL YONKERS. Set for release later this year, Colin Frangos has captured a legendary collaboration for all to see. *DVD includes a full live show!*

    2 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: November 2013
  • $40USD
    Montana Tea & Honey

    A collection of delicious local tea from Montana Tea and Spice Traders, coupled with outrageously good honey from the Arlee Apiaries.

    11 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $50USD
    T-Shirts from SKIM MILK!

    We've been following Josh Scholl's excellently demented SKIM MILK for quite some time, and we're excited to offer this perk to you. Unabashedly twisted, this is right up your alley. Check out what you'll be getting at

    15 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013

    Local tape + record pack!

    A hand-picked selection of intense underground releases from my favorite local labels. Chicago's Lake Paradise, Moniker Records, Lillerne Tapes, Caffeinated Recordings, Solid Melts. Missoula's mind-melting AL HADID.

    20 out of 20 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $100USD
    Art print and more...

    The postcard, a slew of excellent surprises, and a hand-signed 11X17 art print selected from the last 5 years in Chicago and Montana. Choose your preference of either landscape, or live music.

    2 out of 10 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $150USD
    A local combination.

    The postcard, local tea from Montana Tea and Spice Traders coupled with honey from Arlee Apiaries. A smaller collection of hand-picked records, and smaller 5X7 art print.

    0 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $300USD
    All of the above!

    The postcard, Echotone DVD, local tea and honey, full tape and vinyl pack, t-shirt, 11X17 art print, and a special thank you in the credits of the first episode.

    0 out of 2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $500USD

    With a new camera in tow, I'm yours for up to three full days. Got a project you need done? Want a music video? Need a new best friend? Whatever you'd like. This will have to be limited to Chicago or Missoula. Libations, dinner, and some hilarious stories included. Editing NOT included.

    0 out of 2 claimed
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