#FBF to lasers, orange sunsets and the Chicago skyline… Spring Awakening 2016
written by Stephanie Rosa
What started as a small one-night event in an old Chicago theater has quickly blossomed into a top 3-day festival in the midwest. Complete with five stages, carnival rides, various local food and clothing vendors, and a backdrop of the Chicago skyline, Spring Awakening remains one of the most anticipated festivals of the season after four years running. Keep reading and we’ll tell you all the reasons why this festival should be on your wishlist in 2017….
Festival Quick Facts:
Crowd type: Ravers/Young/Festive
Music genre: Deep House, Trap, EDM (a healthy mix of genres)
How To Get There
If you’re coming from out of town by plane, there are two airports that you can utilize in the Chicagoland area: Midway Airport & O’Hare Airport. You can uber straight into the city from both airports (about a 30 minute ride in decent traffic) or you can hop on the Orange or Blue line, respectively. From the city center, you can uber to Addams/Medill Park or you can take an L train. Spring Awakening and its partners also organizes a shuttle from the airport to the festival.
Where To Stay
In a city as large a Chicago, accommodations are plentiful. The festival worked with Hyatt McCormick Place hotel to offer a discounted rate and a shuttle stop, but more options include the following:
The West Loop: Known for being an up-and-coming neighborhood, this area of Chicago would be an excellent choice for those looking to head to some afterparties and/or find a late night meal.
Downtown: Centrally located (and near the beach), the Downtown area is ideal for festival goers who have yet to fully explore Chicago. A shuttle pickup is close by, and you can access public transit quickly and easily.
River North: Known as one of the trendier neighborhoods in the city, River North is packed with nightlife and is a prime location for a few afterparties hosted by the event organizers.
AirBnB’s and hotels can be found throughout the city, both in the areas mentioned above and beyond.
Camping isn’t available for this fest; get excited by the prospect of running around a concrete jungle!
While there was not a huge food selection at Spring Awakening, there was certainly plenty of variety. This festival offered traditional Chicago-style deep dish pizza, Harold’s Chicken (a fan favorite…the line was huge!), Thai, ice cream, and more. Free water stations to refill your Camelbaks were available, and the medical tent handed out free water on the hottest days of the festival.
One of the coolest things about Spring Awakening Music Festival are the two main stages.
DJ Stage (Main Stage): Rocking an awesome pyramid design, this stage is not only absolutely gigantic, it also shoots fire and fireworks out the sides, making for some extra-sparkly drops in the music. It’s always packed, but is surrounded by food vendors and a few bars if you’d rather listen at a distance.
Electronic Stage: Similar to the DJ Stage, the Electronic Stage sets the tone for the festival by adding confetti and fire elements that always get the Chicago crowd jumping.
The two other stages changed names each day (Bass Kitchen and Body Language Friday, Trance Arena & The Birdhouse by Claude VonStroke on Saturday, and the DJ Mag & All Gone Pete Tong stage on Sunday). The silent disco was open all three days, located near the main stage.
Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss
Everyone loves headliners, but part of what makes Spring Awakening unique is the fact that it really believes in supporting local artists. This festival made sure to bring its best natives to the frontline to showcase the fact that house music was really born in Chicago.
- Autograf – After having launched their initial music career as Midnight Conspiracy, this trio decided to revamp their style and turn into Autograf. Now, these tropical house Chicago natives have blown up and are playing massive festivals all season. Their live performances are energetic, fun, and make you want to dance. Want to learn more about these guys? Check out our interview here.
- Avi Sic – Nothing is better than watching my fellow ladies kill it on stage. Splitting time between LA and Chicago, Avi Sic throws down some of the hottest known (and underground) tracks of the year… and blends them to absolute perfection during her live sets. This woman will make you drop it low and work your quads; check out her Soundcloud to hear just what I’m talking about.
- Wheathin – Known best for his remix of XE3, Ethan Snoreck, better known as Wheathin, is a young producer out of Chicago (more noteworthy remixes include that of Louis The Child’s “It’s Strange”). Wheathin’s performance at Spring Awakening only hints at bigger and better things to come, and we can’t wait to hear the original tracks he’s sure to have in the works.
Things To Do
Spring Awakening got creative this year by offering a few fun additions…
- Get wet on a massive water slide – who wouldn’t want to do that in the Chicago heat? Sponsored by Vita Coco Coconut Water, the waterslide was a hit for all attendees who didn’t mind getting wet.
- Hang out in a hammock right on the sand. Also sponsored by Vita Coco, the hammocks area was laid out to resemble a beach; you could also get some complimentary coconut water or coconut oil and feel like a VIP rockstar.
- Throw on some headphones and rock out in the middle of the festival, where nobody else but fellow silent disco-ers can hear what you hear.
- Ride some carnival rides…because who doesn’t love feeling like a kid again?
Why Go VIP
As I get older, VIP sections become more and more appealing. Not that I don’t like to boogie down and swing my hair around, but I do like having space, clean toilets (with toilet paper.. woo!), and access to a bar quickly if I’d like to sip on a cocktail. I also love being able to see the full production that goes in to each artists’ set, including videos, lights, lasers, etc.
At Spring Awakening, for an extra $33.33/day (or $100 for the weekend) you could have all that plus a private entrance to the festival. No need to rush from one artist to another to get a good view, no need to worry about lack of toilet paper, and no need to worry about getting pushed and shoved. For me, at a whopping 28 years old, this is totally worth the extra bucks.
What Makes The Festival Different?
- The Views – If you didn’t think Chicago was a stunning city, this festival will make you feel differently. Positioned with the most perfect backdrop, Spring Awakening was home to purple, orange and pink sunset hues as festival goers danced into the night.
- The Organization – One thing that I have noticed about React Presents (the company who organizes Spring Awakening, Mamby on the Beach, etc.) is that they are always organized. Water stations are easily accessible, lines move quickly, and the artists are always on schedule.
- The Afters – The worst part about city festivals, in my opinion, is what to do once the festival is over for the day. Often times festies are ready to keep the party going after having rocked out to their favorite headliners. Spring Awakening not only had you covered, but gave you choices. Each night, the festival had 2-3 artists host after parties at various clubs throughout the city. Talk about a relief in planning!
Spring Awakening Festie Pro Tip #1: BEWARE OF THE WEATHER! On Friday and Saturday of this event, it was hot enough to melt. However, by day 3, a jacket was needed to keep warm. Make sure to pay attention to Chicago’s ever-changing weather.
Spring Awakening Festie Pro Tip #2: Walk a little if you plan to Uber home… or use the L. Surges can get crazy at night (anywhere between 2.8 – 3.8x the regular rate), so split with a group of friends or opt for public transit.
Spring Awakening Festie Pro Tip #3: Empty water bottles and hoops are ok! Bring your empty bottles to be eco friendly, and your hula hoop if you’re into entertaining.