Chicago kicked off music fest season over the weekend with the Spring Awakening Music Festival at Soldier Field and headliners like Skrillex, Benny Benassi, Afrojack and more. Here are a few things we noticed at the self-proclaimed first all-dance music festival.
Playing House of Pain and Chief Keef wins with EDM crowds
Oliver Twizt and Diplo, respectively, (plus others) worked “Jump Around” and “I Don’t Like” into their sets. Turns out, these are remarkably easy ways to get a crowd to go completely “hamster,” as Diplo tweeted, under a big white tent.
People will pay $8.50 for a Miller Lite tall boy if you give them no other choice
Despite the 90-plus-degree temps and blazing hot sun on Saturday, fest-goers pounded crappy but expensive beer after crappy but expensive beer. Could you blame them? The vendors came to them, working their way through crowds under the tents, and it was either watered down beer or nothing.
Water is for the weak, apparently
Hydration didn’t seem to be much of a priority on Saturday, even though it was the hottest day of the weekend and probably one of the hottest days we’ve had in 2012. “Bubblers” and water fountains were hard to find amidst the meandering crowds. Other than a poorly marked cooling station, misters and fans at the front of the stages, there was little relief from the heat. But everything turned around on Sunday--very noticeably so--with much more signage pointing to fountains, a few more fans and misters placed on the main walkway, vendors stocked with plenty of water walking around and staffers hosing people down around the stages.
Showing your midriff (and butt cleavage) is totally cool again
See the photos for yourself.
Your dad is really awesome
How else would a dad want to spend his Father’s Day weekend than with his teenage kids at a dance music festival? Plenty of neon-clad kids were accompanied by their parents, and everyone involved seemed OK with it. Now that’s a cool dad.
Soldier Field--kind of a kickass fest venue
I was extremely skeptical going into this. How could this possibly work? Is the space really big enough for this? You quite literally couldn’t find a space anywhere on the grounds that was anything less than “very loud,” but despite the close quarters, the sound overlap at the stages was minimal. Huge plus: Indoor bathrooms! Concrete cooling station and relief from the sun! It’s like being in a basement. Despite some of the first-year-fest problems, this space has a ton of potential for becoming a fest destination in the Bears’ off-season.
Hate lag time between sets? Try EDM
DJs are magical creatures, in that, if it’s done right, they can set up in maybe five minutes and “break down” in even less than that. Also, one DJ can set up while the other breaks down. What does this mean? Zero silence between sets. Seriously, zero. Brilliant, in the sense that it was a nonstop party and Spring Awakening never had to work to get people who left the tent back in for the next set, but maaaybe a bit of a setback as a festgoer if you stay in one area the entire time and don’t get to check out other stages and acts because you just have no concept of time anymore.
Chicago is the home of house music and quickly is becoming an electronic music hub. Spring Awakening had more than seven times the number of local acts performing than Lolla has scheduled this year. Nice to see a Chicago festival taking advantage of talent that lives just up the “L” tracks.
It’s no Lollapalooza
Whether you consider that a good or a bad thing, you have to at least admit that Lollapalooza is incredibly organized. Yeah, Lolla has had about seven years to perfect the fest, but it’s definitely set a higher standard for these fests in Chicago (organization-wise). This was Spring Awakening’s first year, and there were plenty of hiccups, issues with security and things that were overlooked. But in such a fest-heavy city as Chicago, new fests are going to have to work extra hard to live up to that higher standard fans have become accustomed to.
It’s no Lollapalooza
This is a good thing, for one reason: There was a considerable lack of aggro and “get off me” pushing throughout the weekend that you tend to see at Lolla. Everybody just wants to dance, dude. High five me!
Jessica Galliart is RedEye’s social media lady.
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