If you have ever thrown a music event of any size – you know how much work it is. It’s tedious and large scale at the same time. You want to keep everyone as happy and safe as possible without going broke. You have to find the perfect combination of artists that want to and more importantly will play. Now imagine doing that all for one venue but being told that you have to change venues completely.
That’s exactly the challenge that Spring Awakening Music Festival took on due to scheduling conflicts with another event in the community. You know what they say about when life giving you lemons, right? Well SAMF absolutely made lemonade some of the best damn lemonade I have ever had.
2016 found SAMF calling Addams/Medill park home for their 5 year anniversary after inviting guests to party at Soldier Field the four years prior.
The venue was a perfect size for a music festival of this caliber. It hosted five stages throughout the weekend with very minimal sound bleeding that would only really affect you when you were in route to another stage.
The DJ Stage and Electronic stage acted as the two ‘main stages’ for the weekend and along with the silent disco which hosted all sorts of local talent, festival goers could choose to be a part of one of two ‘branded stages.’ These branded stages included ‘All Gone Pete Tong’ which has also been seen at Electric Zoo and Tomorrowworld. Claude Vonstroke hosted the very first ‘Birdhouse’ stage that had artists like Nicole Moudaber, Simian Mobile Disco and of course VonStroke himself presenting all sorts of tech, deep, and ghetto house vibes to attendees on saturday.
But we all know a festival is not truly tested until they have to deal with something that wasn’t part of their plan. If you were in Chicago at all on Saturday you know how hot it was. I’m getting sweaty just thinking about it.
I woke up to check my phone and saw it was already 88 degrees Fahrenheit at NINE AM. There was a couple times in the middle of the day that the sun laughed at us and said “Enjoy 100 degree weather.” Festival goers were invited to cool down in one of two cooling buses, or to hang out in a cool spray mist station in the middle of a basketball court. This combined with free water stations and a safety team that walked through the festival handing out free waters ensured everyone’s safety.
I haven’t even talked about the music which had people stomping, dancing, jumping, skipping and shuffling for three days straight. Dillon Francis and Dada Life brought their wacky antics to life on the main stage while Bear Grillz and Datsik had their way with the Bass Kitchen Stage as they breathed life into attendees withe very drop. Gesaffelstein came on stage wearing a denim jacket and chain smoked his way through an hour long set in 95 degree weather that had everyone thinking they were in a dark electro dungeon for a little while.
We saw the power of music when The Chainsmokers, Dash Berlin and Above & Beyond all held moment of silences for the victims of the horrible Orlando shooting which occurred just hours before their performances.
Claude Vonstroke had no problem becoming everyone’s deep house dad and adopted everyone that joined him at his closing set of Day 2 as his birdhouse filled with Dirtybird-heads. As the sun finally disappeared on Day 3 of the fest, it was easy to see RL Grime digging deeper into his dark arsenal of trap heat, each drop hitting a bit harder than the last.
SAMF 2016 proved to us that React Presents isn’t scared of a few challenges like finding an entirely new venue or a Chicago heatwave. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for 2017. Check out the daily recap videos below. Hope to see you guys next year!
All photos used with permission from React’s Facebook page