The Spectacle of Spring Awakening

Summer in Chicago has started with a bang. Two brand new EDM-centric festivals graced the shores of Lake Michigan for the month of June, and both were quite impressive for their first go-around.  Those at MMIBTY who made the pilgrimage to Chicago for Spring Awakening Music festival (SAMF) can attest to a fabulous time in an equally awesome setting. Chicago is no stranger to the festival game, and promoters have set a solid precedent for bringing in top-level talent to these various outdoor events. SAMF featured a lineup with a decidedly stronger focus on the more contemporary and popular sounds in electronic music and it did not disappoint. Standing at the 50 yard line of Soldier Field watching Carl Cox, Moby, and Flux Pavillion is a glorious thing to cross off the bucket list. It was unreal to be a part of  a dance event of that magnitude in Chicago.

As a Chicagoan, I was thrilled that our city, the native home of House Music, would finally play host to some outdoor EDM-only events that are common in many parts of the world. You could only imagine my excitement when they announced Wavefront Music Festival just a few short months ago.  When the first “wave” lineup was released it was became immediately apparent that this festival would be more similar to DEMF (Movement) in Detroit than it would be to fellow rookie Spring Awakening, as far as midwestern dance festivals are concerned. This was because Wavefront would feature as many underground EDM acts as is it did well-known ones.  It’s important to note that the lineup of Waverfront was full of solid picks all-around, no matter what their popularity level was. It was all about the quality of the music. To get the pteromerhanophobic (look it up, I swear it’s a word) Eric Prydz and the legendary Erick Morillo to come through was a steal.  Lets not forget Sasha. He’s certainly no slouch on the international popularity front, but talk about a legend in the game that has stayed true to the underground. I would have bought tickets for him, and him alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY EVENING HIGHLIGHTS

It was announced a few weeks before the festival that they were adding a Friday night preview party to Wavefront. It was meant to be a casual primer for the weekend, and a time for people to pick up their wristbands to beat the crowds of the following day. Good thinking.  Sure enough I left work on Friday and began a much-needed decompression session on Montrose Beach to the edgy deep house sounds of Lee Curtiss (Visionquest) and the always impressive live act, Benoit & Sergio. All in all, a great segue into a weekend of quality beats in a great setting. More to come on the artists…

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

Saturday yielded a fantastic afternoon and evening of 1.5 hour sets from open till close.

Visionquest, North Stage 2:30 PM-4:00 PM: The Detroit super group composed of Seth Troxler, Lee Curtiss, Shaun Reeves, and Ryan Crosson was without their most popular member (Troxler) on this outing. Their sound was no less impressive though. They featured a diverse blend of sexy disco-infused deep house that made for the perfect low-ley beach music. Check out this mammoth set below from Visionquest.

VisionQuest @ Mixmag Live, Village – 17-05-2012 I ♥ MedellinStyle.co by MedellinStyle.com Music

Support the Artists:

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/visionquest

http://www.beatport.com/artist/visionquest/51743

 

Good Times on Montrose Beach

Art Department, North Stage 4:00PM-5:30PM:   The Toronto DJ/Production duo composed of Kenny Glasgow (vocals) and Jonny White has been one of the more groundbreaking acts in the midst of the current Deep House renaissance. If you have the chance to see Art Department go for it because they kill it and Wavefront was no exception. It was a great set that represented a tour de force of Art Department’s taste in music and original tracks. Check out their label No. 19 Music, as well as their full-length release The Drawing Board, released last year on Crosstown Rebels.

In the meantime, here is a personal favorite track and recent mix that captures their sound perfectly:

Support the Artists:

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/artdepartment

http://www.beatport.com/artist/art-department/150625

 

Nic Fanciulli, North Stage 7:00PM-8:30PM: One of the UK’s most consistent exporters of quality Tech House, Nic Fanciulli returned to one of his favorite cities for a memorable beach side romp. Fresh off the release of his two disc Balance 021 compilation (worth checking out), the Saved Records boss graced the Wavefront decks for a 1.5 hour sunset mix that featured his usual brand of deeper and more organic-sounding tech house.  His track selection is a offers a sometimes welcome reprieve from the typical relentlessness of a tech house set. Check out some of his remixes below:

Support the Artists:

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/nicfanciulli

http://www.beatport.com/artist/nic-fanciulli/9120

 

Boys Noize, North Stage 8:30PM-10:00PM: What is there to say about Boys Noize that you don’t know already?  1.5 hours of heady techno, electro, acid, with respect paid to the Chicago house sound that started it all….love it. As a passionate fan of the receptor-burning sounds of the Roland TB-303, there was plenty of squelch in this set to whet my appetite. Not to mention, a finale punctuated by a roughly 15 minute fireworks display on the beach. Saturday was awesome, but it would only get better.

Support the Artists:

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/boysnoize

http://www.beatport.com/artist/boys-noize/5139
 

 

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS

 

Much to the dismay of LCD Soundsystem fans (myself included), Sunday’s dense onslaught of incredible music got off to a late start due to a severe rain and windstorm. This resulted in the cancellation of James Murphy and Pat Mahoney’s highly-anticipated DJ sets. However, the day was far from lost as the festivities began around 2PM with Danny Daze (North Stage). Sunday’s lineup featured predominantly 1 hour sets with headliners receiving the 1.5 hour treatment.

 

Danny Daze (live), North Stage 2:00PM-3:00PM: To say that 2011 was kind to Miami’s Daniel Gomez would be an understatement.  His bass-heavy Deep House anthems permeated dance floors around the world, most notably his track Your Everything (Feat. Louisahhh) (Hot Creations) was among the top 20 most charted tracks on Resident Advisor. 2012 looks to be more of the same for the Deep House luminary as many eagerly await the release of his track Zone (end of July on Future Classic Records debut compilation). This is sure to be a summer anthem with its riveting, memorable bass line… stay tuned. Danny’s set on the beach consisted of the usual Deep House tracks, along with some Techno, Tech-House, and Electro. Overall, he’s very solid. Be sure to check him out if he’s spinning in your city. Below you’ll find two Danny Daze tracks, Your Everything Ft Louisahhh) and an epic remix of Flight Facilities’ track, With You that features the vocal talents of Grovesnor– the drummer from Hot Chip.

Support the Artists:

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/dannydaze

http://www.beatport.com/artist/danny-daze/129061

 

Benoit and Sergio (live), North Stage 5:00 PM- 6:00 PM

Washington DC/ Berlin-based duo, Benoit and Sergio have also seen a highly successful 2011 campaign. Their ranking near the top of Resident Advisor’s Best Live Acts of 2011 further validated the quality of their show.  I have had the privilege of seeing  them a couple of times prior to Wavefront and they do not disappoint. Their sound is a hybrid of Electro-Pop and Deep House that is airy, and highly danceable.  Their set featured favorite tracks Everybody, Principles, and Walk and Talk (a song about horse tranquilizers),and the crowd was singing along.


Support the Artists:

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/benoitsergio

http://www.beatport.com/artist/benoit-and-sergio/172059

 

Guy Gerber, North Stage 6:00 PM- 7:00 PM

Fresh off the release of his compilation for the acclaimed Fabric mix series (featuring all original tracks), Israeli DJ/Producer Guy Gerber came to Chicago and delivered what was probably my favorite set of the weekend. He effortlessly weaved between driving, deep progressive sounds and the more laid-back tracks featured on his Fabric mix.  Highlights included Guy Gerber- My Medicine (off the Fabric release) and 11:11- Tourist Trap. (11:11 =collaborative project between Guy Gerber and Diddy).

From Resident Advisor: “Rumor has it Guy Gerber once played live at P Diddy’s villa in Ibiza while strippers splashed around in enormous glasses of champagne. This kind of makes sense if you think about it. Gerber’s tech house sound has recently morphed into something trippy, lurid and weirdly soulful, helped along by the occasional R&B sample.”

Support the Artists:

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/guygerber

http://www.beatport.com/artist/guy-gerber/2705

 

Sasha, North Stage 8:30PM- 10:00PM

Sasha was the act we were most excited for, hands down. After listening to his two-part Panorama Bar mix on repeat for the better part of 6 months, and  after seeing him absolutely murder it in January on a cold, snowy  Chicago night, we were ready to to see him do the same on a Chicago beach in the summer heat.   Chicago was due to be his one if his final stops before he began his Ibiza residency at Ushuaia, and we had the privilege of taking in a fantastic set in similar surroundings to what awaited him on the venerable island. Sasha started his set with Rudimental- Feel the Love Ft. John Newman (Scuba Remix) (Black Butter Records), a track I had playing a lot prior to Wavefront and I was pleasantly surprised that he opened his set with this familiar number. After Feel the Love, he effortlessly transitioned into Martin Roth- Beautiful Life (Original Mix)(Anjuna Deep), which did well to set a more laid-back mood for his set that persisted until the fireworks finale. You couldn’t have scripted a better ending to this festival; fireworks set to great music on a perfect night.

 

If you get a chance to see Sasha, do it. If the stars happen to align and you get a chance to see him with John Digweed, do it as if your life depended on it.   Here’s Sasha’s two-part Panorama Bar set from late last year:


Support the Artists:

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/sasha

http://www.beatport.com/artist/sasha/2675

 

Conclusion

Come to this festival next year.  It’s awesome, and is very reasonably priced. I paid $89 dollars for a 2 day pass, and they added a free 3rd night. Can’t get much better than that. My only criticism of the event was the rather flawed drink ticket system, that’s about it. Wavefront’s organizers know what they’re doing, and I am eager to go back next year .They are sure to put together another diverse lineup that will provide attendees an exposure to both alternative and well-known sounds in EDM.