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Transmission
« Spring Awakening Music Festival, Day One: Binkies, Bass and Not a Whole Lot of Benny Riot Fest Announces More Bands, Single Day Tickets »

Review Mon Jun 18 2012

Spring Awakening Music Festival, Day Two: Whisper to a Wobble

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(Photo by Steve Stearns)

If day one of Spring Awakening was a party, day two was an all-out rager. Saturday's lineup was a nice, even spread of buzz worthy acts across the day but Sunday packed some of the festival's biggest names like Diplo, Wolfgang Gartner, Flux Pavilion and Moby all into a 120-minute time slot. The temperature was hotter. The energy was higher. The beats were heavier. If you were there yesterday and you're not feeling it today, you must have done something wrong.

I knew I'd be traversing around Soldier Field and its surrounding grounds all night at breakneck speed so I decided to hang back in the morning. When I did show up later in the afternoon, I was pretty much instantly drawn to the beats coming from Da Drive Stage. Shermanology is a group that, until yesterday, I knew little about but in the midst of a festival with dozens of artists trapped behind the decks, it was refreshing and simply fun to have both a hype man and a hype lady out in front of the DJ booth getting the crowd into it and actually adding some real, live, un-prerecorded vocals to the jams the three-piece's DJ was spinning.

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Shermanology (Photo by Katie Karpowicz)

Following Shermanology I meandered over to the main stage to check out Derrick Carter whose set served to confirm a theory I had going into this bass-bumping shindig. Even though Spring Awakening promoters have continuously boasted about Chicago being the birthplace of house music and that this festival was an homage to that origin, but it's crystal clear that house is really the last thing the kids want these days. The forty-something-year-old Carter's drum 'n bass beats drew a measly crowd. His on-stage presence recalled a time when DJs were just DJs and not performers.

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(Photo by Steve Stearns)

After about 10 minutes, it was painfully apparent that this was not the spot to be. Enter Oliver Twizt on Da Equinox Stage. It really is an odd and indescribable thing, which DJs become popular. Twizt wasn't doing much different than Carter. An occasion index finger point toward the sky seemed to be his go-to move. But the crowd was eating it up. Faster tempos, shriller high notes and more bone shattering bass thumps. I guess that's what it's all about.

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Oliver Twizt (Photo by Steve Stearns)

On that note, let's talk about Datsik's banger of a set. I had a feeling it would be a wild one. Datsik himself looked no different from the thousands of other 18- to 25-year-old guys strutting around Soldier Field that day in a neon tank top and flat-billed hats. Perhaps it was the time of day. Perhaps it was the result of the day's momentum. Perhaps Datsik's high-octane jams alone are to blame, but the minute he started his set, the audience snapped. Down came the giant plastic blow-up figures hanging from the stage's tent ceiling. Over the fence literally dozens of revved up jocks into the stage's VIP section. It was EDM's version of "Wild Kingdom."

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Datsik (Photo by Steve Stearns)

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Carl Cox (Photo by Steve Stearns)

From there out my night was a whirlwind. First stop was the main stage inside Soldier Field for Flux Pavilion. I can't speak to the end of his set as I had to jet off to catch the second half of Diplo's but Flux seemed determined to rework the old saying "Go out with a bang." to "Go on with a bang." His set started off crushingly heavy eventually segueing into some of his self-produced tracks such as his remix of "Cracks" and "Got 2 Know."

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Flux Pavilion (Photo by Steve Stearns)

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Diplo (Photo by Katie Karpowicz)

Next stop, Diplo. The producer's high profile list of production collaborations, includes names like Beyonce and M.I.A., has earned this blonde beatmaker a bit of a celebrity status of his own. 'lo wasn't afraid to show off his production skills by dropping numbers from his Jamaican dancehall-inspired side project Major Lazer but also proved he can keep the party rocking with crowd favorites like Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" and Jay-Z and Kanye's "N***** in Paris."

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Wolfgang Gartner (Photo by Katie Karpowicz)

Cut to a brisk walk over to the Equinox Stage for Wolfgang Gartner's set--one of my most anticipated of the day. However, my earlier observation came to mind again once it became clear that Gartner was intent on bringing the dubstep and giving the crowd what they wanted. Gartner's set at North Coast Music Festival last September was heavy too, but there were also intervals of slower, more melodic jams. Since then he's dropped his first full-length album Weekend in America, an album that also offered some nice variety. I suppose its only natural, even expected, for a musical performer to cater his or her set to their surroundings. And Gartner made sure to please with his own tracks like "Space Junk" and "Illmerica." So, overall, not a bad way to end the weekend's side-stage experience.

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Moby (Photo by Steve Stearns)

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Afrojack (Photo by Steve Stearns)

Once Gartner wrapped up it was time to flock inside the stadium for the final performer of the evening, Afrojack. After Skrillex's dazzling headlining slot the night before, I was a little bummed that the Welsh DJ didn't even bring his own light show. Instead, we watched a swirl of colors over the LED screens similar to the many performers that came before Afrojack that day. Afrojack was perhaps the most "Euro" DJ of the festival, blasting club hits like his own wildly popular track "Take Over Control," pepping his set with pre-recorded hype man lines like "Are you ready to rage, Chicago?" and even pumping the occasional fist.

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(Photo by Steve Stearns)

Afrojack, along with every other artist that hit the stage at Spring Awakening Music Festival's inaugural year, were living proof of the blurring lines between musician, producer, DJ and performer. Mainstream music is changing. Need more proof? Try thousands up thousands of EDM-loving ticket holders filling a venue packed into one of Chicago's largest concert venues, one that was once reserved for musical acts like U2 and Kenny Chesney. The times they are a changing'.

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Patty / June 19, 2012 4:01 AM

Great article--but def has shown me that when it comes to music--there seems to always be a--what you can call generation gap when it comes to music-lol. I'm of a whole generation difference and absolutely loved the fest--I deemed the new EDM kids, the hippies of this NOW generation. But I have danced all the way from rock n roll through disco to house through all forms and styles of new music and now to these new sub genres of music that have taken over. I understand that dub n bass and dubstep have def made their place into the mainstream of the present day music scene but the young have to still realize that all music styles are a transgression from something. What I found unfair is the constant dissing of the music that started all these new forms of music. I couldn't make Saturday but my son told me that Benny Benassi's set was cut short for Skrillex. I can't verify that but if that is the case that was sad and disrespectful. Sorry but who was first in the industry, whether you care for their style of music or not. All these guys were headliners for a reason. I was even shocked to see the Chicago Red Eye with a giant picture of Skrillex on the cover and an article full of accolades for the new guys and not one word about Moby? Like WT!!?? Seems the more time passes the respect for the guys who started a lot of the various forms of music fades and it's sad when you don't know where or how you started. A music editor told me a story once of a giant house music festival that was thrown and a house music giant like Marshall Jefferson was booed off the stage. This is what this reminds me of. Seems a different time for we old timers like myself who just embraced new forms of music as they morphed into better and more interesting forms but never dissing the guys who came before us. Deleting and dismissing and forgeting these big guys who helped to make the word "DJ" what it is today is simply ungrateful, ill-informed, and lacking a knowledge of true music history and sort of like dissing the Rolling Stones because they rocked hard in the sixties, but not quite as hard now. Even though they're the ones who helped lay the foundation for rock, paving the path for the hot, young new rockers of the day! They can never be forgotten. Hopefully young music lovers will learn to pay homage to the forefathers of EDM and realize that even though you are not quite into a certain style of music or understand it, they deserve the same, if not more love and respect as the young bucks coming up now!!

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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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