All Photos and writing credit: Trevor Rieker
Three years strong and Spring Awakening Music Festival in Chicago does it again. The Bud Light Platinum sponsored festival takes place in the pulse of the city, Soldier Field. For one weekend the home of the Chicago Bears is renovated for one the biggest midwest music festivals. The legends say that Chicago is the home of house music with many clubs, venues, and concert halls that have been in the scene for years. As the Midwest increases its tastes of the sub-genres in EDM, SAMF was place to be for a festival season kick off.
The OG ravers and jockeys love Chicago, not only that, they love Spring Awakening. From going all three years and seeing the true growth of this festival, I can recall numerous times where artists state that they're coming every year, or how they love Chicago, and how great it is being back. Special set lists are made for this festival because a lot can fly in the “GO”. Its also a great testing ground where there is a clash of avid listeners in one place.
Before the festival began, I was recommended to check out an unfamiliar artist named Destroid. A three man electronic band consisting of Excision, Downlink and Kj Sawka. Formed from boredom of mixing, they dress up like “Crazy alien war robot dudes” said one member and rock out with futuristic instruments specially designed for their performance. Normally, I'm not intrigued with normal dubstep performances but this I did not want to leave. Their sound was like a robot that had a soul and was in an interstellar war. Give them your ears and an open mind and witness something of the future.
The layout had three side stages that surrounded the stadium with a main stage resting on the field. Almost every artist had co2 blowers, flame blasters, and confetti poppers during their set. The main stage was bigger and better that its been before making it obvious that much thought went to the design. This year even included a side stage that shot fireworks every night during its finale.
This was the first year that SAMF had sold out which was expected with the biggest names in the industry being on first lineup announcement. Chicago has partied for decades but the city puts a cap on the festival around 11 pm which gives everyone enough time to catch the last train. Many found their way to the official after-shows at the notorious hot spots like the Mid, Concord, Primary and some lucky ones gathered to the open bar yacht party.
Chicago hasn't been known for setting the trends but rather for redefining them. Everyone had their act to see throughout all hours and as usual the headlining stage was the most populated throughout the day. Still the capacity of Spring Awakening held solid numbers at all performance areas, including the Silent Disco which at one point was raging without remorse. The anticipated names that were dropped spanned from a great spectrum of popularity. The inevitable Tiesto, Pretty Lights, and Kaskade were most common but was also spread out to Big Gigantic, Diplo, Carnage, Dillon Francis, Bingo Players, and Dj Snake. Verbal reviews from goers said that Tchami, Caked Up, Ookay, DVBBS, and Tommy Trash also had unforgettable performances.
Chicago will always love certain Djs like Tiesto, A-trak, and Benny Benassi. Much preparation comes in to play when these guys preform in Chicago as they’ve known Chicago for years. A-trak teased us with samples that transitioned from genre to genre while Benassi dove head first with a new song later followed by intense hard style. That being said, Carnage also jumped his set into three hard style songs in a row giving the crowd what they didn't know they craved.
They came, they raged, and they called in to work. Kaskade was the final kiss goodbye from Spring Awakening. Many filled up Soldier Field levels high to enjoy the final views of the weekend.
For Rieks' complete gallery of Spring Awakening Music 2014 photos, please visit his facebook page here.