Walking through the doors of the How Bazar felt like stepping inside a glistening amethyst crystal Thursday night.
Every inch of the walls was covered with eclectic art. The scent of burning incense filled the room. Faces and jewelry glistened under the purple lights.
Crystal Kingdom, a late-night live music event in collaboration with Dion Dia and UF’s Swamp Records to celebrate the release of Gainesville-based band Madwoman’s newest single, “IDK” took place at the How Bazar storefront March 31.
About 300 people attended the mindfulness-themed event, which featured performances from local artists Spatially Fed, Rakhu, Faro, Rugh and Madwoman. There was also live painting, a crystal vendor and a raffle of Madwoman merchandise and a How Bazar gift card.
Mia Marquez, 19-year-old creative director of Madwoman and UF marketing sophomore, had been wanting to curate an event that reflected Gainesville’s diverse music community and was excited to work with the How Bazar to bring Madwoman and her team’s long-awaited vision to life.
“It was just so rewarding to see all the people around us and the community show out for a community-based band,” she said.
Madwoman captivated the crowd with their alternative-indie sound when they hit the stage around 11 p.m. The velvety falsetto runs of lead singer Sammie Daigle, who goes by the stage name Leni, coupled with the band’s soulful melodies took audience members to a place of sheer bliss. Surprising the crowd, Faro joined the band on stage toward the end of their set to perform their unreleased collaboration, “Medicine.”
When the clock struck midnight, the room cheered as Madwoman’s new single “IDK,” blasted through the venue.
With the event having surpassed all her expectations, Leni expressed gratitude for her team at Swamp Records.
“Events like this bring people together and really allow people to experience human connection, which I think is the most important thing that we have,” she said.
Although Madwoman only signed with Swamp Records in January, the band is already experiencing great success in the Gainesville music scene. In March, they performed at Okeechobee Music Festival, a live music festival at Sunshine Grove in Okeechobee.
Before Madwoman’s performance, multiple other local artists took center stage.
Kicking off the night, Spatially Fed, a community organization of artists that champions mindfulness, engaged with attendees through a spoken word performance incorporating physical movement. Audience members stood in silence as the group shared powerful stories of growth and self-healing accompanied by a soothing background synth track.
Following Spatially Fed were two Dion Dia artists spearheading the expansion of hip-hop and R&B in Gainesville’s music scene: psychedelic R&B artist Rakhu and rapper Faro. Rakhu’s smooth vocals had the crowd swaying back and forth, while Faro’s clever lyricism and high-energy beats had audience members jumping to the rhythm of each track.
Shifting away from R&B and hip-hop, the local alternative pop-rock band Rugh lit the crowd on fire with their angsty sound. Toward the end of their performance, the band’s bass player, Vic Abreu, leaped into the crowd and caused the room to vibrate with excitement.
For Jamari Boothe, also known as Faro, this event showcased the genre diversity and talent within the Gainesville music community.
“A lot of artists get trapped into the idea that they need to be either a big city or they need to make a lot of money to feel like they have an impact and a place in the world,” he said.
Having organizations like the How Bazar and Dion Dia Records gives smaller artists the opportunity to share their artistry and see the positive impact they’re making in their communities, he said.
Along with the music performances, the event showcased Gainesville’s vibrant arts scene by having local artist and muralist Jenna Horner paint a floral piece live during the event. Coinciding with the event’s mindfulness theme, crystal vendor Athena Jade had a table at the venue where she sold different metaphysical items and gave tarot card readings.
Llili Aguila, a 20-year-old UF anthropology junior, frequently visits the How Bazar but was surprised by how packed the event was. She enjoyed Rugh’s energetic, punk performance.
“This is the energy that I want,” she said. “This is the energy that I came for, so it was definitely fun for me.”
For Laila Fakhoury, How Bazar’s co-owner, 24, putting on events to uplift local artists and musicians is one of her primary goals with her business’ platform. When the Madwoman team came to her with the idea, she was instantly on board, she said.
“One of the things that we really value in the space is creativity and freedom of expression and using the space in a way that is different and unique,” Laila said.
The Madwoman team wants to continue putting on events that unite the Gainesville arts community and highlight diverse voices, Marquez said.
“Word spreads fast when an event is cool like this,” she said. “When there's passion behind it, art, music, good energy and the intention is correct, people will show up every time.”
Contact Amanda Friedman at Afriedman@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @afriedmanuf.
Correction: This article has been corrected to report that Mia Marquez is 19 years old.
Amanda Friedman is a senior journalism major and the Enterprise Editor at The Alligator. She previously wrote for the Avenue, Metro and University desks. When she isn't reporting, she loves watching coming-of-age films and listening to Ariana Grande.