Photos by Corey Miller/ Written by James Kabat and Alyssa Minnec
“I walked in and couldn’t believe that this was the same festival that I was in last year or even the year before. Where am I? I asked myself as I smiled. It was like a carnival, a wonderland of music to choose from, a place we knew we’d get lost in for the next three days…”
As we have finally gained back our lost hours of sleep, tended to our burning sunburns, and drank enough water to feel hydrated again, we think back to the madness that was Spring Awakening 2017. Different from its previous years, there were new stages, new rides, and new vibes all around. Making the list for one of the best festivals of the summer, we talk the best parts of Spring Awakening, what to watch out for while you’re there, and why you should go next year.
The diverse lineup.
Spring Awakening is known for always bringing an awesome lineup, but from Armin van Buuren, to Griz, to Diplo to ZHU, this Spring Awakening brought one of the best lineups of the summer to Chicago. If you are an electronic fan, bass fan, trance fan, or just a fan of good music, this festival was the festival for you. Each stage focused on a different genre, and there were sounds for all music lovers to choose from.
“Mija was my favorite of the weekend. That girl knows how to party! It was an early set, but the entire crowd was feeling her energy. Perfect start to the day.” – Sarah S.
“I bought my ticket for Armin van Buuren. Best set of the festival, hands down. I felt every emotion throughout that set. It was beautiful. And then, I got to see him again the next day!” –Max L.
“Griz was definitely my absolute favorite. The lights went beautifully with his music. When he broke out his sax it was one of the most amazing experiences because of how everyone just got good vibes instantly! He really communicated with the crowd and gave us what we wanted!” – Stephanie K.
Swedish duo Galantis (aka Christian Karlsson aka Bloodshy and a member of the band Miike Snow, and Linus Eklow aka Style of Eye) closed out the Equinox stage in proper form Friday evening, with an energetic set comprised of a plethora of their hits and EDM sing-along favorites. The pair took turns spinning and dancing on top of the DJ booth, while Karlsson gave a warm shoutout to Chicago, mid-set gushing over how much they’re happy to be back! One of the definite highlights was a tribute to Whitney Houston when the crowd sang the chorus to I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) while images of the then 23-year old beauty flashed on multiple screens. Not allowing to be defined by any genre, the talented producers understand what commercial dance music is all about and play to its strengths as opposed to trends, thus providing a truly unifying and sonically pleasing festival experience!
Above & Beyond’s Ajunadeep tent brought a refreshing vibe to the fest on Saturday featuring Chicago’s very own RJ Pickens, Finnish rising mega-talent Yotto, veteran Jody Wisternoff, and Australia’s Rufus Du Sol, amongst others. Yotto, who entertained the crowd with his unique brand of melodic deep house and techno, displayed why he goes from strength to strength while playing his blissful productions including Marisa, Cooper’s Cup, and the recently released Wilderness Girl. Fan favorite, and the stage’s closer, Rufus Du Sol, was one of the fest’s few truly live performers incorporating live instruments and vocals sending the crowd into a frenzy with renditions of their hits Like an Animal, Say A Prayer For Me, Tonight, and Innerbloom.
Bigger, better, louder, and brand new, Spring Awakening added a completely new expanded stage to the festival this year. The Solstice Stage, the stage in the shape of an A, hosted Marshmello, Yellowclaw, Diplo, Alesso, Martin Garrix, and several other big name music artists. This stage was near all of the food and vendors, so it was a great stage to grab a bite to eat and relax while enjoying many of dance music’s legends.
The Equinox Stage, the huge new addition to the festival, gave us a diverse lineup to enjoy under the sunset, with Chicago’s skyline in the distance. Datsik, Louis the Child, Galantis, Krewella, Excision, Die Antwoord, and Griz were some of the favorites that took place at this stage. Right near the Silent Disco, this stage gave us fire, fireworks, and dancing all weekend.
The two tents at Spring Awakening changed names each day based on the day’s daily theme. “Dancing Astronaut” gave us Benny Benassi, Bingo Players, Party Favor and more, before changing to the “Trance Arena” the following day. Armin van Buuren played his second set here, opening for Paul Oakenfold and Paul van Dyk, to name a few. On the third day, this tent took the name as the “Bass Kitchen” to close out the festival with Kill the Noise, Snails, Barely Alive, and more. Can you see what we mean by “diverse” yet?
The Corona Electric Beach Stage was an awesome clear dome sponsored by Corona near the rides. There was sand, great music, good people, and good vibes all around. It was a fun beachy escape from the festival itself-a little world inside of the madness.
For $5 a ticket, there were tons of different carnival rides that fans could choose to have some fun on. There were huge swings next to the Solstice Stage, a crazy upside down ride, fun slides, a Ferris wheel, and more. If you want to go on a ride, make sure that you plan it out and get there early for the set you want to watch it on because the lines wrapped around the entire stage area. Otherwise, head to the festival early for shorter lines.
Chicago did us well, as we were treated to tons of different food options. There were multiple grilled cheese trucks, a deep dish Chicago-style pizza truck, both vegan and vegetarian options, Carnival food and more. Red Bull was one of the sponsors of the festival, so there was also an abundance of Red Bull throughout the weekend, giving us some extra energy to dance.
“I don’t know what happened exactly, or why it happened at a festival in Chicago, but I woke up on Monday morning a different person. Something about the music and the people, man… it was indescribable.” – Emma T.
Be prepared for…
The line for will call each day filled the streets, wrapped up and down the surrounding blocks and did not move very efficiently. It was around 90 degrees each day, so standing still among hundreds of people is both exhausting and a waste of time. If you can avoid getting your ticket at will call, we definitely advise you to do so next year. Otherwise, don’t stand far back in the crowd. Most people don’t know what is going on in the line situation and don’t hold their spot, so if you can’t come early to get your ticket, head more near the front, say excuse me, and save yourself hours of time.
“We got there around 5. The line was insane. We didn’t get into the festival until around 7 p.m. Next time, we’re going to prepare for that a little more.” –Jason Z.
“I was a member of the media at Spring Awakening. There was no line at all, and my partner and I walked right up to the booth. The staff was friendly and excited for the weekend.” – Samantha B.
Addams-Meddill park is located near the Pink Line! Take the train near you and hop onto the pink line. Get off at 18th for the festival. Uber is always another option in the city. You can even take an Uber Pool to cut your costs down. There is free parking surrounding the festival in the residential areas, however, do not bank on finding a spot. Read the surrounding road signs carefully to avoid getting ticketed or towed. There are parking lots that you can purchase a day pass for as well with prices ranging from $20-$30 per spot.
With the crazy hot June temperatures, make sure that you stay cool and stay hydrated. Spring Awakening did a fabulous job keeping this in mind, as they featured Chicago buses with blasting air conditioning to relax in, misting areas to walk through, water refill stations, as well as free water at certain vendors.
Did you go to Spring Awakening and have any suggestions that the festival should take into consideration for next year? What did you love? What did you hate? Let us know in the comments section below!