Spring Awakening puts Chicago in forefront of world EDM scene

By Jake Krzeczowski June 13, 2013 12:12AM


Chicago’s rise as a mecca for electronic dance music continues this weekend with the Spring Awakening Music Festival, a global gathering of dozens of DJs and producers, which runs Friday through Sunday at Soldier Field.

Last month, the internationally touring Electric Daisy Festival made its local debut at the Chicago Speedway in Joliet, and now Spring Awakening returns for its second go-around as it transforms the home of the Bears into a neon-and-glowstick mega-party over four stages. The festival, which expands to three days this year, is a star-studded event, with big EDM names such as Calvin Harris, Bassnectar and Moby as headliners.

Organized by the Chicago-based React Presents, Spring Awakening is expected to attract more than 30,000 attendees each day. React Presents’ Zach Partin calls it “the largest all-dance music festival in the Midwest.”

Perhaps no one better understands why dance music has been making waves locally than Chicago-based DJ Topher Jones and DJ Trentino.

“I really care that Chicago is the birthplace of house music,” Jones said, referring to the style regarded as setting the foundation for today’s EDM scene. “Back in the day if you were a DJ from Chicago, you could play anywhere in the world because it was such a big deal to be from Chicago.”

For Buffalo Grove native DJ Trentino, the large festival could be a blessing and a curse. While big-name lineups are good for fans looking to fill their music fix, smaller acts. At Electric Daisy Carnival, many of the artists with afternoon sets played to sparse crowds.
“I’m interested to see how things will work out for me with all of the bigger acts that are playing,” Trentino said. “But it is a great opportunity to play at Soldier Field in front of those kind of crowds.”

Artists small and large should benefit from the variety of the festival’s roster. With so many acts on several stages simultaneously, there’s a frenzy of activity that will captivate even the most jaded fan. In fact, it’s the fans who make the event what it is. Women dressed in butterfly wings, furry boots and glitter and masses donning bright neon are as much an attraction as the booming bass of the massive
DJ sets.

“Everyone at the React Presents office is beyond excited to share the second annual Spring Awakening Music Festival with Chicago and our fans who travel from all over the country for the fest,” Partin said.

Soldier Field will be transformed into a different type of testing ground this weekend for Trentino and Jones.

“It’s an honor to be a part of something like [Spring Awakening], and it’s a sign that things are getting bigger,” Jones said. “People in Chicago know their music and will come out and support it, and it’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”

Jake Krzeczowski is a locally based free-lance contributer. Follow him on Twitter: @jakekrez

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