Yesterday was Halloween, and if you are anything like me, you only used it to recover it from the Halloween weekend. With Halloween during the work week, we had to get all of our partying out over the weekend.It is the perfect holiday for festivals and shows and this year there were hundreds to choose from. This year along with thousands of others, I was given the chance to attend three days of React Presents' Freaky Deaky: Midwest Takeover.
React Presents has put on Freaky Deaky since 2008. However, it was only in the recent past two years that the event has been a festival spanning three days. This year, everyone was anticipating another three day festival at Toyota Park, but React Presents threw a curve ball at us and decided to return to its roots and go back to single day events. While we did not receive a full three days in one location, React Presents gave us eight separate events spanning four days in multiple locations (Milwaukee, Chicago, and Michigan City), calling it their Midwest Takeover. Each location and day had it's own vibe making it a very diverse experience, even though it was under the same host. Because there were multiple locations and days, the events were way more accessible to those that could not celebrate all weekend or were closer to one location versus another. It as well made it possible for you to personalize the music you heard that weekend.
I was able to attend three of the events this past weekend: Kayzo at the Concord Music Hall, Griz at the Wisconsin Center, and Dillon Francis at Aragon Ballroom. Each day was perfect on it's own, but all of them together made for a brilliant weekend.
Kayzo at Concord Music Hall
My holiday weekend started off with Kayzo at the Concord Music Hall. The Concord is a classic Chicago venue, so there was no need to worry that the venue would be a bust. However, I was a little worried about what I would be walking into considering it was a Thursday during the work week. I was prepared for a small crowd, but I was more than wrong. The whole place was as packed as possible with people going as hard as they could. Unfortunately, I got in a bit later than I wanted because of a long line, but that only means the party inside is going to be great and gave me a chance to meet new people. As I walked up the stairs, I could already hear the crowd and Riot Ten going off. Riot Ten was a perfect opener for Kayzo, while Riot Ten had his own style and sound the music matched perfectly and got all of us ready for Kayzo's insane set. Riot Ten pushed the limited on how hard he could go. The crowd ate every piece of his set up getting ready for Kayzo to make his appearance.
I had never seen Kayzo live before that night and I did not know what I was getting myself into. All of the lights turned down and an eerie, building, trap beat started. Bones of a doberman projected right above Kayzo's DJ set up, creating this spooky feeling in the room. Then, Kayzo hit us hard with his drop and entrance and did not back down until the very end of his set. I was amazed at Kayzo's passion and energy through the whole set. We always hope that the DJ has all the energy to get us going, but that is not always the truth. Kayzo showed his passion for his music making us in the crowd just as passionate to see his set. Everyone I met, was incredibly happy with Kayzo and Riot Ten that night.
Griz at the Wisconsin Center
The second night of my Freaky Deaky experience was Griz, Flatbush Zombies, Boogie T, Opiuo, and Plaid Hawaii. This was kind of an odd night, so much so I wasn't sure what to think of it. I stepped into the Wisconsin Center and the production of the stage struck me. It was amazing with large trusses and graphic boards. It was the production that we were use to when Freaky Deaky was a festival. The event was in a large room that had drinks and all the food we needed to keep us going all night long. Everything was conveniently close but the area was large enough to give us all the space to dance without it being too crowded. The oddness about this night was the line-up. While Plaid Hawaii and GRiZ go absolutely beautiful together, I was a little lost on the addition of Boogie T, a primarily dubstep artist and Flatbush Zombies. Each individual artist is amazing in their own right and did a wonderful job together. The sounds of the four acts just smashed together and did not make much sense. The Griz crowd that is looking for funky music not hip-hop/rap and because of that were not into Flatbush Zombies in the least bit. This made the entire night a little off the whole time. However, if you were looking for a little of multiple genres, this was the perfect night for you!
Griz and Plaid Hawaii went absolutely perfectly together just due to both their dedication to beautiful melodies and funky sounds. For this performance Plaid Hawaii (Jason Womp) played along side Mike Daum, from Particle. Mike absolutely killed it on guitar and Jason gave us his beautiful upbeat tropidelic vibe, all the while playing the bass guitar. All of this from the two created a similar sound to Griz's future funk that the crowd was looking for all night. The best part was watching Jason's long dreads swaying around his guitar, while Mike's majestically blew in the wind. This is one of Plaid Hawaii's biggest gigs to date, so we wanted to meet up him to see how he felt about the event. When asked how he felt while up on the stage, he said, "It felt way better than skydiving and that was nuts." I, then asked him how he felt about the genre clash. He expressed that because he knew there would be a genre clash that he tried to focus on making his music closer to Griz's style while incorporating his own feeling into it. He definitely achieved this goal. The set was absolutely wonderful and showed us that Plaid Hawaii is a force in the genre.
Dillon Francis at Aragon Ballroom
On the third day of my Freaky Deaky experience, I had the privilege of going to Dillion Francis at the Aragon Ballroom. To start off, I love Aragon Ballroom. In my opinion it is one of the best venues in Chicago, other than the other beloved classics. The reason this was an amazing venue choice for React Presents is because of it's overall vibe and location. As soon as you step into the venue, it resembles moorish architecture with marble floors and arched hallways, but the best part is when you step up the stair on to the main area, it is as if you stepped into a Spanish village. The terraces resemble courtyard markets and homes with a ceiling that is painted in this awe-inspiring fresco of the night sky. The stars and planets swirl around and light up on the ceiling creating this amazing space to see your favorite artists. One of the best parts about Aragon Ballroom, other than it's beautiful interior, is the location. It's not too far into the city making it easy for you to get in and out with out having to deal with crazy weekend traffic. It is also literally right off of the the Red Line at the Lawerence stop and I mean literally right off. This makes it perfect for you to travel from anywhere in and around the city to the venue and back safely and conveniently.
I feel like it is hard not to love Dillon Francis and his music because he is such a lovable fun person in general. He never takes anything seriously, but he is obviously passionate about his music and growth in the industry. This past Saturday was an amazing line up of Parker, What So Not, and Dillon Francis. Each one of them brought their own style but each set flowed right into the next and got us dancing all night. It seemed as though What So Not was a bit tired, with no real energy shown for the crowd but that is to be expected with his constant touring across the world. The production was the best of all three nights from my prospective and the crowd had the most energy that I had seen over the weekend. It was a great way to end my Halloween weekend extravaganza. Yesterday, Dillon Francis released his after video of the event and it shows just how much energy the crowd had.
React Presents had their hands full with these eight events and it showed that they can take on a lot. They were able to create a massive takeover with music from many different genres and still appeal to thousands of people. While we miss the three day festival and hope it comes back, this past weekend was amazing. One thing we wished was that each show really pushed the Freaky Deaky theme. It seemed as though only Wisconsin Center was really decorated with the Freaky Deaky charm we love. This would have made the shows more cohesive and pushed the point of React Presents Midwest Takeover.
At the end of the day, this was an amazing Halloween weekend with React Presents events! I went in with a positive mind on the events and came out just as happy. We can not wait to see what React Presents has up next for us this year and we just hope that we get to see Freaky Deaky as a festival, again.
What was your favorite part about React Presents' Freaky Deaky? Comment Below.