Entering into its sophomore year in Addams-Medill Park, Spring Awakening has conveniently cemented itself as Chicago’s big brand electronic music festival. Having been forced from Soldier Field after 2015 due to the Copa America, React Presents wasted no time last year in making Addams-Medill their own for the purposes of SAMF, making the most of limited space and accentuating a far more open atmosphere than years past, versus when the imposing Soldier Field stadium played centerpiece.
Back with a larger section of the park, this year’s installment of Spring Awakening seems to be keeping solid pace with its prior installments, even if it is lacking some of the edginess that established its prominence years earlier. The lineup is still a who’s-who of current top flight electronic music performers, spanning the entire spectrum of genres that fall within it. The key drawback to this is a seeming lack of emerging talent on the lineup — a close look reveals many acts established in popularity by 2015 at latest, a heap of white guys, and a couple headliners arguably past the zenith of their live performance days.
The honest truth of Spring Awakening however is that its success flies completely in the face of mere lineup criticism or eye-rolling at ‘ugh another EDM festival.’ SAMF, like years prior, appears completely content with check-your-brain at the door fun, and who is to say that strategy doesn’t pay off in spades for a festival of this flavor? Well-seasoned festival heads may find reasons to skip this one if they’re fatigued (if you’re worth your salt, you have definitely seen half this line up in the past five years). Yet at the same time, there’s more than enough on this list to see the ones you’ve kept missing and then some — and then go and see your faves yet again. Between that and the people watching, it’s a gobsmackingly simple and winning combination that React keeps throwing and landing.
Barring a total fumble, Spring Awakening should remain a solid festival for the electronic enthusiast or beginner. You’ll have a hard time getting bored if you’re there with an open mind. Casuals and jaded fans would do well to wait for Lollapalooza, and if you’re actually serious about emerging electronic music (or even just electronic music that is more authentic to Chicago’s local sound), you likely already know that you’re better off waiting for the likes of Pitchfork and Mamby.
Friday: Armin Van Buuren, Keys N Krates, Ghastly, Route94, Gene Farris
Saturday: Axwell ^ Ingrosso, Excision, Lane 8, Mija
Sunday: What So Not, Mr. Carmack, Spag Heddy, J Phlip, Eats Everything
Purchase tickets for SAMF through the official website.