Spring Awakening started the festival season off right for many Midwesterners last weekend, as the signature event took over Addams-Medill Park in Chicago once again. The EDM-centric festival hosted a barrage of artists, both local and worldwide, in a familiar fashion but with some major upgrades. The Solstice and Equinox stages commanded the festival on each end with top-notch production and visual elements, while the branded stages offered curated lineups each day. For the smaller, more intimate sets, the Corona Electric Beach and the Monaco STFU! Silent Disco stages provided their own micro-chasms within the festival grounds.
When you have a lineup as stacked as Spring Awakening continuously does, there will always be something for everyone and each experience will vary. We can only offer up just a little teaser of what an amazing time SAMF was this year, because it was truly a choose-your-own adventure! With that being said, here is our take on the seventh annual installment of Spring Awakening Music Festival.
Spring Awakening Music Festival 2018
Friday’s sun was shinning bright with a cool breeze, letting everyone comfortably explore the grounds and get a feel for the venue. It was difficult to not be immediately sucked into the Minnesota‘s ground-trembling bass at Equinox. The stage’s visual enhancements were immediately apparent and could draw in music fans from miles away. With giant, curved LED-screens extending out on each side, it was as if the stage was trying to wrap it’s arms around the crowd.
Next up was the Solstice stage, which also received a visual overhaul. The massive structure sported additional LED panels, which were fragmented but formed a larger visual pattern. Getter‘s head-splitting visuals were a great first taste of what the stage offered and his mosh-inducing drops riled up the evening properly. Getter also scattered throughout his set glimpses of his eagerly anticipated new album on the horizon, allowing us a better understanding of how diverse and brilliant it will be.
Continuing right along, Alison Wonderland took control of the Equinox stage. Coming out of the gates swinging with a mashup of her title track “Awake” and “Good Enough” from her awe-inspiring sophomore album, she was accompanied by fiery visuals and pyrotechnics to match. Bringing in her old hits as well as fresh takes on her new music, Alison Wonderland’s presence was undeniable and seemingly drew in most of the festival whilst ushering in the rest of the vibrant evening.
As the sun set, Zeds Dead‘s starry intro filled the Equinox stage and entranced the crowd before smothering it with bass. Zeds Dead masterfully crafted melodic and house breaks between the intense drops that were making the most seasoned fans crumble. Across the venue, Tiësto had hands in the air and feet off the ground at the Solstice stage while the captains of the curated stages, Destructo in Heldeep and Gareth Emery in the Trance Arena, ended the night for those seeking a specific sound. We left SAMF on Friday completely satisfied yet excited for the rest of the weekend.
Saturday was another day of welcoming weather and an even more welcoming atmosphere. Local favorites and SAMF regulars Porn and Chicken got the energy high and the vibe grungy from early on at the Equinox stage. This group knew exactly how to put on a show for their city and we can’t wait to share more about their music with you (check back soon for a full interview)!
As the day went on, the festival rumbled and wobbled as Black Tiger Sex Machine and Ganja White Night followed — noticeable by seemingly everyone except those of us in the silent disco. It was there we found Midwest’s up-and-coming future bass phenom, Super Future, offering his distinct mix of synth and trap. Those silent disco vibes provided a serene escape from the rest of the festival around us. Headphones on, world off.
Then, the festival rallied at the Equinox stage once again for Flux Pavilion‘s unrelenting bass, which proved to be one of the hardest sets of the entire weekend. Fresh, new music and trendy drops were frequent, but the fans really went crazy to hear favorites like “Gold Dust,” “I Can’t Stop,” and “Bass Cannon” — songs that will never get old. After a full set from Flux, we were almost begging him to let up.
Meanwhile, the DJ Mag and Requiem curated stages filled out their tents and we caught little bits of acts like Steve Aoki and Carnage over at Solstice as we wandered about. Finally, Hardwell and Big Gigantic closed out the night on opposite ends of the festival. Over at Big G there was a lot of booty shaking going on, we can tell you that much. With two days down, Sunday looked like a promising end to an already excellent weekend.
Sunday’s early rain morning rain left the grounds damp and muddy, but nothing was stopping Chicago from coming out for Spring Awakening’s final day. People were buzzing with the same excitement felt on the very first day, though the weather kept things cool and collected.
The curated Bass Kitchen had the surrounding puddles rippling throughout the day with each drop, while Sunday School offered a more laid-back atmosphere. Joyryde kicked things into high gear early on with his distinct breed of bass house, including that “This Is America” remix we live for. As he powered through banger after banger, the crowd went wild. Everyone was completely revved up for Baauer to take the reigns afterwards. That being said, Joyryde into Baauer proved to be the most momentous run of the entire weekend for us.
Slushii later drew in seemingly half of Chicago with his effortless mashups of bouncy melodies and heavy basslines. He had the crowd more amped up than we’d seen all weekend long, continuously surprising us with his stage presence and charismatic song choices. Across the venue, SAMF received a pleasant surprise of Zedd at the Solstice stage filling in for Dash Berlin, but Slushii just wouldn’t allow us to leave.
Back at the Equinox stage and after a short wait, Porter Robinson took the stage for a DJ set which filled in for his alter ego Virtual Self — and he didn’t disappoint. The beloved producer worked in his old classics while banging out some in-betweeners so hard that even long-time fans were in disbelief. This performance was about all the energy and all the edits.
deadmau5 ended the evening at the Equinox stage with his Cube 2.0 really filling in the center of the stage like none other. We couldn’t help but notice his set get super Testpilot-y from the get go and we definitely weren’t complaining about it. Perhaps he was gearing up for his nearing Electric Forest appearance under his techno-driven alias. But no matter the reason, this was a great change up for those who saw his Lots Of Shows In A Row Tour.
That pretty much wraps it up. What more can we say, other than Spring Awakening always delivers.
More info on the fest here. Pro tip: don’t miss out on SAMF next year.
Photo via Spring Awakening