Spring Awakening Music Festival: Event Review!

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The first lesson I learned at Spring Awakening Music Festival is this:  never go to a three day music festival with a one day pass and expect to be satisfied.  You will end up purchasing tickets for the other two days without a doubt after the first day.  That being said, Spring Awakening may have cost me more than I planned, but it was worth every dime.  In my opinion, music festivals are so much more about the experience than just the music.  The entire culture that revolves around music festivals, especially electronic ones, can never truly be explained until you experience it.  It’s that simple.  The way people connect, the emotions that you feel, and the MUSIC and performances are truly indescribable.  It’s an experience that fits this famous statement perfectly:  From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it, but from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.  That being said, I’ll try my best to describe the good and the bad of the 3 days I experienced at Spring Awakening Music Festival in Chicago.

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FRIDAY, JUNE 14th:  After a 5 hour drive from Columbus to Chicago with three other people, we got to our hotel and were ready to quickly change and head to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, where EDM would be taking over for the next three days.  The walk down was filled with kids in neon, kandi up and down their arms, hats and shirts with absolutely ridiculous sayings (my favorite was one that said “Sorry Mom”), etc…all the rave wear you could expect.  As we got closer and closer to the stadium, the energy was just on fire…I could tell this was going to be the start to a great night.  Although there were plenty of young teenagers on Friday as well as lots of bros (you know who I’m talking about), I was still pumped.  With 4 stages set up (3 around the outside of the stadium, with the main stage held inside, literally where the Bears play), we made our way inside immediately to see Pantyraid.  Even though I had seen them at a small venue before, I knew their energy would set off the night to a great start. And yes, they definitely did.  Followed by Pantyraid was Bingo Players, who blasted hard electro beats for a solid hour before taking off to Vegas for their next show.( “Rattle” was included in almost everyone’s set!) Next was Dirty South, who, again, kept the energy at an amazing high with his progressive beats.  I still love hearing his track “City of Dreams”, which of course the crowd went wild for.  We made our way back out to some of the other stages to catch the end of John Dahlback and my personal favorite:  Rehab.  I was completely surprised by Rehab’s set; I was not expecting to get blown away by his performance.  I don’t think I have ever seen anyone working the decks like him and the crowd was totally feeling it.  His transitions from house to hip hop were spot on. Definitely didn’t think I’d leave saying Rehab was my favorite performance of the night, but he was.  Interestingly enough, he was the only DJ I saw that played anything from Daft Punk’s new album as well.

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The night ended inside the stadium at the main stage with Moby, who, to be honest, was more or less just “meh.”  I am certainly not discrediting him as a talented legend, but his set of straight techno music wasn’t the most exciting for all those who were expecting progressive house with drops.  I kind of felt like I was transported back to the 90’s. Regardless, the visuals and light shows made up for what the music didn’t exude, including fireworks at the end of the night.  (I secretly got very excited when he played “Infinity”, but I was the only one in my group.)  Lastly, I ended the night with the after party at House of Blues to see Pantyraid just one more time.  We got there a little late, but Pantyraid was owning that stage with their harder, and yet sensual beats, until 4 am.  House of Blues in Chicago is one of the coolest venues I have ever been to, and it was packed: Pantyraid knows how to throw down a wild party.

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SATURDAY, JUNE 15th:  After sleeping in, my friends got up and showered ready to tackle day 2 of Spring Awakening. My plan was originally to meet up with some friends in college for the day and night, but…Spring Awakening was calling my name.  I mean, how could I turn down experiencing the music festival culture and having the best time of my life for at least one more day?  That’s right, I couldn’t.  With that, I met up with some other friends who lived in Chicago, and we made it back to Soldier Field just in time for Nervo (huge crowd, awesome set), as well as the hood-loving Flosstradamus.  I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of Trap, but Flosstradamus was B.A.  They hail from Chi town, and their hard-hitting set was just what we needed to start the night.  After Flosstradamus came Nicky Romero on the main stage, with Zedd performing on the Heineken stage.  Many people flocked out to see mainstream popular Zedd, but we stayed in to see what Nicky Romero delivered.  Pleasantly surprised yet again…he’s got one hell of a show.  Lots of Electro and progressive house, smooth vocals, and remixes of many of my favorite tracks of the moment, including Armin Van Buuren’s “This Is What It Feels Like”.  One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Spring Awakening again on Saturday was because of Wolfgang Gartner, who came on right after Nicky Romero.  Ever since I saw him perform last year, I have been in love.  His Electro house tunes and danceable beats made me feel like I was at a night club.  He remixed tracks from Deadmau5, Tiesto, and the likes, and as soon as he played “Illmerica”, I was one happy girl.  The lasers and smoke that shot out over the football field-turned dance venue just as the sun was setting turned this dance party into a full-out rave. Closing out night 2 was bass heavy Bassnectar.  I may not be a “bass head”, but he threw down for a 75 minute set, with crazy visuals that had me engulfed in the production.  What was even crazier was the rain that started to fall just as he was half way through his set, the SAME day and time that it rained last year at Spring Awakening during Skrillex’s set.  Coincidence? Probably.  But, still an eery and awesome way to end night number 2.

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SUNDAY, JUNE 16th:  Again, I wasn’t planning on going to the final day of Spring Awakening.  But as my friends started talking about it in our hotel room, I was beginning to get sad.  This might be my only music fest this summer, and I couldn’t let it pass me by.  I’d rather spend my hard-earned money on shows, festivals, and traveling with friends than on material things, so I made the decision to scalp a ticket last-minute to finish off the weekend right.  Best choice ever, as Sunday’s lineup was incredible.  Even though I got there later than I’d liked, I was able to experience the power of music through Mord Fustang, Porter Robinson, Tommy Trash, and last but not least, Calvin Harris.

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I’ll just say that Porter Robinson is one of the youngest, most talented producers I’ve seen, and his production is just unreal.  His transitions were some of the best I’d seen all weekend.  And Tommy Trash should have been on the main stage; his set ended up being my FAVORITE of the entire weekend.   He’s underrated as a DJ in my opinion; the crowd and energy level was just insane.  I mean, NUTS, especially when he mixed in “Tuna Melt” and his remix of Deadmau5’s “The Veldt”.  The tent he was in included the wildest group of people I had ever seen.  It was the perfect introduction to the closing performance.  Ending the night (and the festival) was Calvin Harris inside the stadium.  Everyone knows so many of Calvin Harris’s songs and I don’t think I stopped dancing once for an hour and half (likely the reason I woke up completely sore on Monday morning).  Again, the visuals and laser beams were unbelievable, his big room, progressive house style and hard drops were danceable, and the entire production just blew me away.  One of my friends says she likes to do a “360” at music festivals…just turn around and check out everyone in the crowd by doing a full spin, and EVERY single person I saw was loving life.  There were thousands of people in that crowd having a great night.  And that’s what I love about the EDM culture…it’s truly unlike anything else in the world.

Spring Awakening Music Festival may not be up there with EDC, Paradiso, Electric Zoo, or Ultra, but let me tell you…it’s one hell of a music festival. The nice thing about it is you can get from one stage to another in a matter of minutes, and you never have to wait in a long line for bathrooms (yay!).  The people you see and meet at electronic music festivals all congregate for one reason: to be in love with the EDM culture and life.  It’s so cheesy, I know, but so true.  By far the best escape from reality, music festivals, and in particular Spring Awakening Music Festival, made me remember all over again why I love this stuff.  See ya next year, Chi town!

Spring Awakening Festival

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Kari Sandkuhl

Kari Sandkuhl

Born in Phoenix but raised in the Buckeye state, I had my first taste of electronic dance music while attending graduate school at Arizona State University in 2011. Needless to say, I have been hooked ever since. Favorite artists include Above and Beyond, Kaskade, Hardwell, Laidback Luke, Arty...and last but certainly not least, Eric Prydz.
Kari Sandkuhl
- 1 year ago
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