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Wavefront Music Festival Thu Jun 14 2012

EDM: Chicago's New Favorite Acronym?

Three years ago, Perry's stage at Lollapalooza--which features the vast majority of electronic music artists at the festival--was a humble, circular electro oasis nestled under Grant Park's the nearby treeline. By 2011, the stage had grown to a football-field-sized gargantuan filled to the gills with furry-boot-wearing, shutter-shade-sporting EDM fans. The stage's rapid expansion is a reflection of the parallel growth of EDM--electronic dance music--in the U.S.

Speaking of football fields, Chicago's very first all dance music festival is about to be unleashed on the city and it's far from a down-home, DIY, low-scale first-year festival. Spring Awakening Music Festival will draw between 25,000 to 30,000 bassheads to Solider Field between June 16 and 17. Not only is it the first Chicago festival of its kind, it's also the first electronic music event of any kind to have a stage inside Soldier Field.

"We're definitely priding ourselves on being the first all dance music festival to come to Chicago," said Zach Partin of React Presents. React is co-producing the festival along with dance music hotspot Congress Theater. "We think it's long overdue. We're hoping that we can just pay homage to those roots that we have here in the city."

But the electronic jams don't stop this weekend. The aforementioned Perry's Stage will boast a handsome lineup this August including headliner Bassnectar. North Coast Music Festival rings in its third year with performers like Pretty Lights and Paul Oakenfold. And Chicago is welcoming yet another new dance music festival over the weekend of June 30 and July 1. Wavefront Music Festival's founder Brandon Carone also felt the need to bring Chicago back to the center stage of the EDM movement.

"Chicago is the original home of house music, it has become a hub [for the genre] because it originated here," Carone explained in an email to Gapers Block. "We saw this as a great opportunity to bring an electronic music festival to a unique location on the beach."

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Oh yeah, that might be the most exciting thing about Wavefont: location, location, location. Montrose Beach will provide the party pad for this two-day festival which features headliners like MSTRKRFT, Duck Sauce and Boys Noize along with a wave of smaller-scale Chicago artists. National EDM talent won't be hard to find in Chicago this summer but arguably the most exciting element of the newfound electro fest fade is the effect it's having on Chicago's local scene.

"Back when we first got involved in the scene, Calvin Harris couldn't fill up the Congress Theater," Louis Kha, half of Spring Awakening performer and local dupstep duo Midnight Conspiracy said. "Today you have guys like Zeds Dead and Ingrosso each selling out shows at the Congress. We started out in the basement of Angels & Kings which held a hundred people max and today do shows with a thousand plus people at places like The Metro."

Before they've even made their debuts, Chicago's new festivals are gaining attention at the national level. Spring Awakening earned a shout out in a recent issue of Billboard Magazine for being one of this summer's essential dance music festivals. Popular opinion indicates it's high time Chicago took its seat at the forefront of the EDM in the U.S.

"Outside of Chicago maybe [dance music's rise in popularity] is a surprise to people," said Partin. "But with Chicago being the birthplace of house music I think everyone here has seen it coming for awhile now."

There's a potential flip side to EDM's light speed rise to mainstream popularity though. You have to wonder if at some point--possibly sooner rather than later--the scene will become saturated. Already, Chicago will host four festivals with a decided dance music focus this summer--Spring Awakening, Wavefront, Lollapalooza (specifically, Perry's Stage) and North Coast--along with its countless independent EDM shows. Will electronic dance music hit a wall and fade into music's vast oblivion of forgotten fads? Opinions on this issue seem to vary.

Rather than disappear, Partin believes the genre will instead be "pushed and pulled in a lot of different directions" producing a long-lasting series of subsequent subgenres.
Carone raises an interesting point: Rather than become saturated the high demand within the EDM market will only cause the elite talent to become harder to book.
However, its Kha that makes the most bittersweet argument.

"I think it's inevitable. EDM will reach a point of over-saturation. It'll grow to become this massive bubble, and just like the dot com and housing bubbles, it'll all come crashing down. Then there will be a counter-culture of sorts with a new underground which will build back up again."

It's impossible to say where electronic dance music's future will take it, but it is safe to say that Chicago is along for the ride.

Spring Awakening Music Festival goes down at Soldier Field this weekend, June 16 and 17. $120 two-day passes and $75 single-day tickets are still available here. Wavefront Music Festival hits Montrose Beach June 30 and July 1. $89 two-day passes and $49 single-day tickets are on sale here. Pump yourself up for a summer full of EDM with the latest free mixtape from Midnight Conspiracy. Download those jams right here.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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