During Afrojack’s headlining performance Sunday evening, the Dutch DJ had one major question on his mind: “Is this crowd ready to rage?”. The question had one significant flaw, the majority of the audience had already been raging for nearly 20 hours, and that’s assuming some in the audience managed to sleep Sunday morning. Chicago’s Spring Awakening didn’t just lure fans of the city’s historic House heritage (e.g. Green Velvet, Derrick Carter), it was a glowing beacon for bass heads and co-ed weekend party warriors across the United States. Asking this crowd if it was ready to rage was equivalent to asking embers if they are ready to burn, just one quick breath and they ignite in their fluorescent glory.
Even with temperatures soaring Saturday, very little, besides possibly a funky downtempo set, could slow the ebb of the audience. In fact, the Saturday afternoon sun hit so harshly on Soldier Field that security took to soaking goers with commercial-sized hoses for much needed relief. When temperatures became too unbearable to handle inside Soldier Field, just ask LoBounce following some equipment failure, the scantly clad dance fiends could find some solace, and further explore the world of EDM, beneath the broad tents that covered two of the three smaller stages.
So what exactly was it that fueled this multi-day rager? It wasn’t the drugs, that’s for sure. What follows is an exploration into the sets that kept Soldier Field raging.
Senior Staff Writer
Porn and Chicken
Da Colonnades Stage – Saturday – 9:00 p.m.
If you live in Chicago and love to party, you already know about the Porn and Chicken Dance crew. If you don’t live in Chicago and love to party, pack a toothbrush, get here Monday, call off till Wednesday, and experience what you probably didn’t even know you were missing. With megastars manning the decks at the larger stages, less than three dozen revelers watched as Orville Kline, Phives (aka Fei Tang), and The Sleepers (aka Dan Dwyer) filled the stage with booty-bouncing beauties and a bombardment of bass beats. The trio ran tracks including Notorious BIG’s “Hypnotize”, Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, and Miike Snow’s “Black and Blue” through their testosterone-spiked, beer-soaked electro gauntlet. As the final song confirmed (Taking Back Sunday’s “Cute Without The ‘E””), Porn and Chicken isn’t an outfit grown from the seed up Chicago House music, but the underground offspring of hardcore and 90’s electronica explosion. Best viewed in a raunchy, sweaty dance club.
Da Drive Stage – Saturday – 3:00 p.m.
With his graying hair gently flowing in the lake front breezes, Chicago-native, turned Brooklyn resident, Tommie Sunshine prof’d a clinic on the effective club remix. Possibly in reference to his lesser-skilled peers, Sunshine dropped the uptempo, vocal-heavy “Ima Read” by fellow Brooklynite Zebra Katz, which is emphatic about bringing an unnamed female to college and “teaching[ing] that bitch some knowledge.” Lesson 1: develop an overwhelming base of both pop and dance music. Not only could Sunshine get folks dancing with bangers from current project Horsepower, he could reach back a few decades to update favorites like Wish feat. Fonda Rae’s “Touch Me”.
Da Main Stage – Saturday – 6:00 p.m.
For the Chicago-based trio behind Midnight Conspiracy, 6:00 p.m. feels more like breakfast time. A notion that resonated through the onset of their set. Without their “Eye Live” laser lightshow, Mikul Wing and Louis Kha came out a bit sluggish with their Italo-pop remixes. Graham Cody, the collective’s behind the scenes production guru, was the set’s defibulator, adding a jolt with new single “The Eye”. Even without their customary setup, three surprises awaited the crowd: a winged female dancer, a bass heavy Beatles remix, and an all out moshpit.
Da Main Stage – Saturday – 7:00 p.m.
Few artists, in any genre, can match the appeal of A-Trak (born Alain Macklovitch). Not only does the 30-year-old have unprecedented turntable skills, and the ability to remix nearly any track for today’s younger EDM audience, but the dude continually takes risks, like sporting a denim vest atop a tie-dye shirt while spinning Future’s “Same Damn Time”, all of which he committed to on Saturday evening. Unlike Duck Sauce, his project with Armand Van Helden, which heavily samples disco era material, A-Trak kept the material more recent for the Spring Awakening Crowd, like fusing Martin Solveig’s “The Night Out” with Lil’ Jon’s “Shake What Your Momma Gave Ya!”. Now seemingly customary at dance festivals, A-Trak felt compelled to make a reference to MDMA, playing the vocal riff from Cedric Gervais’ “Molly”. The song Madonna infamously hyped during Avicii’s Ultra 2012 performance — less than three hours after Duck Sauce left the stage. (Personally, I found that tidbit humorous and slightly sarcastic on the part of A-Trak.)
Photo by Lilian Cai
Da Drive Stage – Sunday – 6:00 p.m.
If you aren’t prepared to be stepped on, sweated on, and quite possibly not-so-accidentally groped, don’t attend a Datsik show. But if you’ve actually read through to this point, grab your fanny pack, DayGlo trucker cap, sunglasses, and catch this Canadian producer whenever you need your earth rocked. Alongside mentor Excision, Datsik helped pioneer the polarizing Bro-Step, infusing those constant mechanized bass wobbles Sunday with a double dose of hip-hop. Highlights: a chopped up remix of “Gin and Juice” and watching security try and contain teens that kept invading VIP. Performing before the events major names, the set was a quart of Red Bull to give ragers momentum through festival conclusion.