At the beginning of the year, the future regarding one of Chicago’s most important music festivals was entirely up in the air. Answers to questions about the festival were filled with doubt and uncertainty. There was a point where many thought the festival wouldn’t take place at all. Alas, Spring Awakening Music Festival was able to make a major recovery, and eventually took place on June 11-13th in Chicago’s Addams/Medill Park, located near Pilsen in the West Loop.
First and foremost, the location was less than ideal. Coming from Soldier Field, (the event was forced to move due to a Copa America tournament), any venue would just leave more to be desired. However, if you’re able to look past that, an enjoyable time was waiting ahead. Walking in through the gates, and getting past security, a totally different world awaited you. There was a giant Ferris Wheel, and a waterslide, and an old carousel converted into a dance floor. It was a giant playground, and we were about to take it over.
Unfortunately, hate to address the elephant in the room but, the event was extremely cramped for a music festival. There were 4 stages all within audibly close proximity to one another, and there was a definite sound bleed at whichever stage you were at. Fortunately, once you were focused and enjoying a set, the noise pollution didn’t really seem to be an issue, and many artists we spoke too said it wasn’t noticeable once they were in tune with their set.
Looking past the cons of the venue but not the event, Spring Awakening was just as fun as it’s always been. The main stage, or DJ stage, maintained the same look from last year’s event, but had more than enough space for the crowd and managed to pack in thousands of attendees with no problem. The pyrotechnics and graphics were top notch as always, and all of the performers absolutely crushed their sets. Every single crowd kept the energy high, and Chicago craved more and more.
The Electronic stage, which was dubbed the second main stage by Spring Awakening, had intense sets throughout the weekend. Hosting Flux Pavilion, Zeds Dead, and even more relaxed sets like those by Madeon and Jai Wolf, it had some really unforgettable performances, and it became really difficult to pick between heading to the DJ stage or heading to the Electronic stage, and I, personally, found myself bouncing back in between sets.
The DJ Mag stage was quite possibly my favorite stage of the entire weekend, however. Filled with appearances by Ghastly, Ephwurd, Alison Wonderland, Bear Grillz and so many more, there was always an intense energy, and every performer in that stage put on such amazing sets which kept me always coming back. This was a tented stage, but it truly kept people crowding around the tent and lacked no more energy than the comparable main stages.
The fourth stage was the Pete Tong stage, which featured such acts as Autograf, Claptone, and native Wheathin. This was the most relaxed stage out of the bunch, and featured much more house-y type songs, similar to old-school club music. However, crowds still managed to pack this one up as well, and always had such great vibes throughout the weekend.
The last stage which was extremely under-shadowed was the Silent Disco stage. Placed directly near the main DJ stage, it was very easy to miss, but everyone that attended always appeared to be having the time of their lives. The idea of vibing out, looking absolutely ridiculous and having an intimate set experience, was worth the time and definitely a crowd favorite. Our writer Bryan, also known as Hi Five, played a set there and he said he loved the vibe. Disappointed I wasn’t able to make it out to a set, it is definitely something everyone should try in the future.
For what it could have been, Spring Awakening’s 2016 event went off much better than expected. While you can complain about the venue and the noise pollution, if you attended and enjoyed yourself, those small imperfections didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I’m thrilled to see what Spring Awakening has in store for next year, but they definitely knocked it out of the park with this one.
Check out our full photo album from SAMF 2016 below: