Heatwave Music Festival took Chicago by storm last year, adding another great local fest to Chicago’s vibrant festival scene. The two-day fest was the perfect mid-summer buffer for some very much-needed dance therapy under the Chicago Summer Sun. In a city packed with festivals and genres, it’s always great to have festivals of all shapes and sizes to fill out your schedule.
Heatwave made its return to Chicago in 2023 to a brand new venue. Heatwave took over Chicago’s iconic Northerly Island with 3 stages all packed to the brim with talent.
Just like in 2022 music was spread out across three stages giving fans a chance to ‘choose your own adventure’ across all weekend. Heatwave made a point to highlight creative art installations all throughout the festival. The highlight for me being the world’s largest rubber duck, whose sheer size towered over the festival as a beacon of hope.
But any festival in Chicago is not complete without afterparties. Due to Chicago’s sound regulations most festivals have to end strictly by 10 or 11 pm, but the party does not end there. Thousands of party goe-rs then descend to after parties all around Chicago for incredible afterparties. Festival headliners GRiZ and Tiesto took over Radius, while attendees at Prysm were treated to intimate sets from Kaskade and Gryffin, respectively. There was something for everyone.
If you’re from Chicago you know how volatile the weather can be, especially in the Spring, and even more as you get closer to the lake. Heatwave’s venue being mere steps away from Lake Michigan, all the locals were prepared for anything.
It was a tale of two Chicago weathers over the weekend with Saturday being a bright, sunny almost Summer day while Sunday’s intrusive thoughts took over with a gloomy rainy day. Almost immediately, the festival sold out of hoodies, but those prepared for the weather were able to experience the festival in a whole different way. It may be a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I’ll take bundling up a bit then be dripping with sweat 10/10 times.
But the main attraction was and will always be the music, we highlighted some of our favorite sets below.
See you in 2024, Heatwave.
When hometown hero Whethan was announced he jumped to the top of my must-watch list. His evolution as an artist has been incredible to watch throughout the years, and his Heatwave set really proved that. In an EDM world that seems to be currently centered around dubstep and tech house, Whethan really shines. His unique remixes and originals delivered something that no other artist delivered throughout the weekend.
You can ask 20 different people what EDM should be and you’ll get 20 different answers (and that’s ok!). But for me, dance music should be fun. Sidepiece, the collaborative project between Party Favor and Nitti, is the epitome of fun dance music. In the city where house music was born, they showed off their version of house music. A high energy, fun house music set packed with sing-along moments to bring the crowd together.
Deorro’s party-starting anthems have been in so many people’s playlists for so many years, but seeing Deorro almost ten years after his iconic “Five Hours” track is much different in 2023, and in the best way possible. His set was a wonderful mix of the bops we’ve come to expect from Deorro, and the absolute pride he has in his Mexican heritage. The Mexican flags in the crowd went into absolute overdrive when Deorro actually played a song by fellow Mexican artist, Peso Pluma. For a minute, everyone in the crowd forgot about the cold and danced in the Mexican heat.
At 54 years old, Tiesto is still headlining main stages across the world – and that’s not something you get to keep doing if you don’t keep up, and Tiesto has never had a problem doing that. His mainstage sets tend to be a wonderfully curated blend of what’s hot, and Tiesto originals. And every time I’ve seen that combination, it’s as sure to be a party as 1+1 always equals 2.