Spring Awakening Music Festival 2018 once again took over Addams/Medill Park last weekend, delivering a solid three days of non-stop music curated by a host of world renowned DJs and performers. Sporting a lineup with a little bit of something for everybody. For anyone who has attended multiple years, every passing year finds a way to outdo the previous one and improve and adapt in various areas. There were many well-known DJs at the festival this year, including Afrojack, Alison Wonderland, Tiesto, Zedd, Steve Aoki, Hardwell, Kaskade, Carnage and more!
Day 1 got the festival going on a strong note with sets from Zeds Dead who came on and made their presence known. What I especially love about Zeds Dead is their ability to take the listener on a journey. They threw in old school dubstep that is more mellow than the modern day EDM listener is accustomed to.
Alison Wonderland the Australian DJ played plenty of her own tracks from 2018 “Awake“. When she took the stage in her signature black Fuck Me Up On A Spiritual Level t-shirt. We could see her hair flying in all directions. Multiple cameras blasted all angles of her set on towering screens, her “AW” logo emblazoned in the middle. Her hands were flying too, spinning and tweaking mostly hip-hop beats.
Ending night one was non other than Tiesto. The atmosphere in the venue was electric. His set was extraordinary – was comprised of a good blend of modern EDM hits, some Tiesto classics, your token big-room bangers, and a few oldies but goodies. Throughout the night, Tiesto masterfully mixed in staple records – such as “Take Me”, “Secrets”, and “Paradise” – that were bound to get the crowd amped. He wrapped the night up with a bang and a confetti-filled sky proving that even after all of these years, Tiesto’s still got it.
Photos by Corey Kaneko and Jesus Pizano
Day 2 keep the theme going with other memorable set from Afrojack. He took the stage for his act at 6:20 pm. The global EDM phenom lit up the stage and had a fusion of hip-hop, R&B, Reggaeton and electronic dance. Afrojack has been doing EDM for such a long time and he really knows what he’s doing. He has said that “music has the power to broaden horizons”, so he remixed at SAMF 2018 day 2 showing the potential of his new releases and collaborations.
The Las Vegas native 3LAU pulled no stops and put on a spectacular show mixing up tracks from his new album to throwing in classic banger singles. Some of 3LAU‘s mashups were also thrown in the mix and they sure resonated with the crowd as they went wild when his “Save The World” SHM mashup dropped as well the mashup of Porter Robinson‘s “Language“. Overall the set was pretty memorable, the visuals were outstanding and on point and the bass was cranked all the way up.
The New York-based trio’s Cash Cash progressive beats and sick drops gave the Chicago crowd a reason to party. JP, Sam and Alex started off the night right mixing in several well-known beats. The multi-color lights a brought the music to life and made the Cash Cash experience a movie. The dance floor was the epicenter of it all where everyone rocked out to the beats. Cash Cash not only provided the hard-hitting tunes, but also released the energy that kept the party going until sunrise.
The night ended with Hardwell who played a variety of music, ranging from the best electro house tracks to progressive house. Being in the hip hop-oriented Chicago Area, Hardwell appropriately dropped a couple of hip hop songs such as Blockboy JB & Drake’s recent hit “Look Alive”. His set consisted of numerous mashups, namely those with his own tracks which got everyone singing along and jumping as high as the Willis Tower. Overall, people definitely got their money’s worth as Hardwell provided an unforgettable night in Chicago.
Photos by Corey Kaneko and Jesus Pizano
As the doors opened for the last day people were wondering who would replace Dash Berlin who had to drop out due to his health. It was none other than Zedd, the hitmaker DJ behind your favorite jams like Clarity and Stay rocked the stage. In between every chart-topper, Zedd made sure to throw in his more underrated and less known work. For example, his remix of Magic!’s Rude was an absolute bop! He played some fire renditions of J Balvin’s Mi Gente, Justin Bieber and DJ Snake’s Cold Water, and Camila Cabello’s Havana, along with many more!
Slushii opened with “Luv U Need U” followed by his mix of Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now” and “Burial” by Skrillex. One of the greatest parts of his set was when he included La Roux’s “Bulletproof,” as well as Panic at the Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”. Throughout the set, Slushii brought the best that he could offer, changing the tempo up every which way he could until the end. But sadly, it always seems like every show goes by too quickly. Every time I have seen Slushii live, he’s always given it his all. You can always see and hear his passion that he has for his music. This time, Spring Awakening was his platform. He played a memorable set that’s going to be hard to forget.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Cube 2.1, the brainchild and passion project of Joel Zimmerman, better known to the masses as deadmau5. deadmau5’s set was a good mix of older favorites like Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff, Maths, and Strobe; new tracks like Snowcone, 2448, and Imaginary Friends from his W:/2016ALBUM. When he dropped the truly filthy Noisia remix of Raise Your Weapon, it brought the house down – every person in the place was getting down. It’s so rare to come across an artist with such a strangely relatable persona. Something about the nerdiness and the way he throws his all into what he does just resonates, and it always reminds me of why it was that I wanted to be a part of the horde in the first place. It’s always felt like coming home.
The night ended with Chicago’s own Kaskade a staple of house music in EDM. Kaskade has been one of the most beloved and successful DJs in the world for years. He’s sold millions of albums, he’s been nominated for six Grammy Awards and has been number one or number two on the list of America’s Best DJ every year since 2010. The crowd was thick and phones were out, prepared to capture the opening moment of Kaskade’s return to Chicago. Sunday night in Chicago, he showed just why his fans love him so much with a brilliant set in front of a sold-out crowd.
Spring Awakening Music Festival happens once a year and it is a weekend many would see as an escape from reality and a way to just leave all your worries behind for a weekend. Composed of 3 nights full of music, impressive fireworks and carnival rides, there is plenty to explore and plenty of memories just waiting to be created. Looking forward to seeing what Spring Awakening Music Festivals brings next year.