In Retro Specs: The Only Review of Spring Awakening Music Festival That Matters


For another year, something was magnificently overwhelming about Spring Awakening Music Festival. Which is why there’s so much to say about it. Or why the city was swarmed with stumbling neon for an entire weekend. Or why you woke up on a bench in Grant Park on Monday morning – to your boss’ dog licking your face.

But without question, it’s an experience that differs by taste. A lot may depend on your comfort zone, religious or political views, and tolerance for humidity. But one thing is for damn sure: Spring Awakening is a blossoming affair.

With as many dubstep performers as beer vendors, Chicago’s premier EDM festival premiered for a second summer this past weekend. And it re-premiered in a fierce manner. Taking the tent from Da Equinox Stage 2, SAMF offered two main-stage feels this year. Although of course, nothing tops a main stage setting like Halas Hall does.

When it rained on Saturday night during Bassnectar, it came in eerily similar fashion to the torrential downpour at the end of Skrillex’s masterful set last year. Pleasantly consistent with the flow of last year’s pilot run, Calvin Harris complimented Saturday night’s violent finish with an upbeat & versatile finale set. To put it in our terms, the heavy to happy rhythm of the weekend has been the perfect equation for a Windy City success.

My vote for next year? Dillon Francis on Saturday, Eric Prydz on Sunday. Just saying.

With the addition of a third prequel day this year, Moby put on an extremely solid performance as Fridays headliner. Likely brought in to attract an older audience for the first night’s crowd, Moby had ragers of all ages rocking out to close out Day 1. There was a standing ovation for his ode to something old, pumping up the crowd when he played ‘Infinity’. As a matter of fact, it may have been the most well-received track played all night. And I was not kidding about the standing ovation. That happened. Listen below if you want to know why.

The crowd on Friday was frantic, as first day jitters always make for a testier crowd. The best set from Friday main stagers had to be Nero, who would’ve done just fine as Friday’s icing. Bingo Players, on the other foot, decided to play a game we like to call: “how much tribal hard-style can you stuff into one fucking set?” It made us cry just a little folks, but Bingo Players was the biggest disappointment of the entire weekend. But before we progress, props as well to Dirty South for spinning a dirty set up north. The good kind of dirty.

Saturday? Crowded, chaotic, and crazy. Ergo, everything I dreamed it would be. By the time Wolfgang Gartner finished his set on Saturday night – there was little room to move anywhere on Soldier Field. Which was interesting, because he had every single person jumping up and down by the time ‘Channel 42’ was in mid-stride. A show that was bigger than itself, Wolfgang Gartner once again stood out from the field as one of this weekend’s finest entertainers.

The Sunday crowd was clearly the most experienced. It’s possible these were the adamant festival-goers. The ones who found a road around Father’s Day, or the ones who fulfilled their patriarch dues in the morning hours. But unfortunately, if you missed Sunday, you missed this festival’s brightest hour. Up-and-comers like Minnesota, Figure, and Topher Jones rocked the outskirts of Soldier Field in the daylight. Sunday night’s top-heavy lineup at Da Main Stage was nothing short of a spectacle.

1000889_618517161506913_170284881_nPorter Robinson & Excision were quite epic. But when the weekend’s biggest name took the stage, it became quite apparent Spring Awakening had saved the best for last.

As Calvin Harris dropped his everlasting ‘Feel So Close’, an already hysteric crowd went even more bizerk as fireworks engulfed the silver beams surrounding them. Ushering in the weekend’s climax with his biggest hit and Chicago’s quintessential skyline in the backdrop, one thing became quite apparent: Spring Awakening was bigger and better in 2013. And we expect the same thing next year.

Sure SAMF is raunchy, hyper, and constantly reeks like a Colorado green house. But that’s half the fun, isn’t it? React Presents didn’t need to turn many tables to bring the fans back for 2013. Mixing up the schedule with some muscle was all that was needed.

After all, the venue kind of sells itself.

2 comments on “In Retro Specs: The Only Review of Spring Awakening Music Festival That Matters

  1. […] feat. Collie Buddz, our boy Minnesota has been on the meteoric rise to stardom. His live set at Spring Awakening Music Festival still stands as (debatably) our favorite set of the […]

  2. […] of lesser know artists included on each mix as well. After seeing Jeff this summer in Chicago at Spring Awakening Music Festival, I can whole-heartedly attest to the fact that Excision is one of the best live performances in the […]


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