Exactly one week ago was Chicago’s one and only Spring Awakening Music Festival. Unlike the previous four years, SAMF changed the location from soldier field to Addams Park. As one of the attendees from both last year and this year, I fully immersed myself into this wonderful three year experience.
The lineup this year, according to many fans, was expected but unexpected. Many people thought that the two main stages featured artists that varied from each other. Mainstream artists like Steve Aoki, Kaskade and The Chainsmokers played at the DJ Stage, while other headliners like deadmau5, ZedsDead and RL GRIME played at the electronic stage.
The width and open area of Addams park ensured every stages’ sound quality. When I was in the middle area waiting in line to get water, I could clearly hear the sound coming from both stages. However, the closer you are to one stage, the less sound you would hear from other places. Compared to last year, the sound and effects of the stages greatly improved from last year.
Another improvement was the light effect. As many people who have been to EDM music concerts know, laser light effect constitutes a big part of the performance. Among all the shows, I would vote for Kaskade for the best lighting effect. Deep house music combined with colorful laser lights from all directions made a beautiful ending for the second night at DJ stage. Among people I spoke with at the festival, deadmau5 and RL Grime also put on a great laser show to satisfy EDM lovers.
The winner of the most entertaining performance would go to Steve Aoki. He mixed several classic tracks like My Heart Will Go On and The Lion King with modern electronic music, photoshopping his face on the movie characters and actually becoming the Jack from Titanic. Five cakes were thrown to the audience at the end of his set. This has been a tradition for Steve Aoki’s concert for a very long time. Afterwards, he jumped into the crowd and was lifted up by people for 10 minutes.
Drug culture has always been a sensitive topic for music festivals. According to a drug use study by Billboard, marijuana and molly are the top used drug at music festivals in the US. Since there was one death at SAMF last year because of overdose on drugs, they had stricter rules on prohibited items and security check. On the last day, my friend who was wearing a fanny pack had to wait for five minutes for them to open every pocket and look for prohibited items.
Despite the music, there were plenty of other ways to get involved at SAMF. This year, they added many entertainment facilities like water slides and a ferris wheel. Since Soldier Field limited SAMF on adding more entertainment facilities, they learned from other big music festivals this year to attract more people. The water slides were just perfect for the burning heat and the ferris wheel became the romantic ride for rave couples.
One little default this year was the water supply. Weather was extremely hot for the first two days. Since the closing time was adjusted to two hours earlier, most of the shows were performed under the hot sun. As a big stadium, Soldier Field could satisfy thousands of people’s water needs immediately with more than 20 water fountains. However, the two water supply stations in the park could not 100% guarantee a fast water access. It took us an average of 30 minutes waiting in line to fill our water bottles.
It was a completely different 3-day experience at SAMF this year than last year. I’ve seen the growth of stagse each year and a greater variety of artists performing. The countdown starts again; see you next year SAMF!
Check out recap videos from the three-day event here:
Photo and videos provided by the Spring Awakening Music Festival.