Spring Awakening took place June 9th through the 11th at Addams/Medill Park in the great city of Chicago. This was a fantastic way to kick off summer and festival season. The weather was perfect! With temperatures hitting the high 80s and low 90s during the day, I couldn’t have asked for a better festival weekend. To top that, the perfect backdrop was seeing the Chicago skyline as the sun went down.

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Although I’m still a huge fan of having this festival at Soldier Field, Addams/Medill was setup stage to stage allowing you plenty of time to get from one set to another without walking forever. There were multiple smaller stages at SAMF, along with two main stages. My favorite stage productively was by far the Trance Arena. The production and sound for this stage was incredible and the artist who performed made this even better.  My least favorite stage and biggest disappointment was the Anjunabeats stage. I was really looking forward to seeing a lot of the artist perform there but the sound quality was horrible and there was no designated area for VIP which I didn’t feel like competing with the crowd to get a good spot to groove.

With the weather being so hot, you wanted to quench your thirst and the lines for beverages of both an alcoholic and non-alcoholic took anywhere from 10-20 minutes or more to get something cold in your hand. This wasn’t even the worst part as the water lines looked like it could have taken much longer. I didn’t see many water stations and when I did, I knew it had to be water because the lines were unbelievable. As I’ve learned traveling to festivals, WATER IS KEY. The more water stations, the happier people are.

Some musical highlights from the weekend was Sander van Doorn, who I had the wonderful opportunity to interview before his set. See interview here. He always throws down a great set keeping the crowd engaged and dancing nonstop. I closed the first night with trance legend Armin Van Buuren, who ventured a bit between his “old school” Armin and “new” Armin sounds. The crowd went absolutely nuts when he dropped his track “Great Spirit”.  Not only did AVB close out on Friday but he performed back to back days throwing down an amazing ASOT set at the Trance Arena stage.

The Trance Arena was truly where it was at for me and the highlight of my weekend. Performances from Andrew Rayel, MaRLo, Paul Oakenfold and legend Paul Van Dyk. He closed the stage taking you on a trance journey with a series of slow-building ascents and stimulating climaxes, PVD sent chills throughout the crowd. His set was anything from classics to recent hits.  For every drop not only was the crowd waving their hands in the air, but PVD showing his enthusiasm being just as excited with his music and would jump as the crowd did.  He truly felt the infectious energy of the crowd as we felt his. After his performance, he stuck around shaking hands with fans and taking pictures. Moments like these just make artist much more loveable.

Unfortunately, Axwell^Ingrosso didn’t make the festival due to a robbery the night before but set times were increased for the main stage artists throughout the day.

If the festival wasn’t enough, there were plenty of after parties to partake in.

Overall, I do wish the festival was back at Soldier Field because I think it just gives it a unique experience and separates itself from any other festival at a park. The festival wasn’t kept clean as there was more trash that I noticed than other years. Some sound issues at some stages and lack of dancing areas for the VIP holders. Next year, more water stations, more beverage stations and more areas for people who bought a VIP ticket because they are not cheap and should feel like their money was well spent. The one thing I do give REACT is they always bring in amazing artist to this festival so I do look forward to this lineup every year.

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