Spring Awakening 2012: Sunday


Welcome to Heave’s second day of coverage of the first annual Spring Awakening Music Festival in Chicago! Your correspondents are:

JFD – John Franklin Dandridge
MA – Michael Alexander

Deejay Intel (Da Main Stage, 1:00)

There’s a bit less pressure kicking off day two of a festival, especially for a skilled veteran such as Deejay Intel. While there were few audience members familiar with the DJ scene of the 90s, appreciation was shown from the modest crowd. Intel got the hot bodies moving with a few classic hip-hop selections, mixing in some dub and a tinge of rock music. His set kind of went into a carousel of this format. And while a tad contrived, it never got boring, forming a layer of rhythm as any great DJ should do. What a tasteful way to begin the day. JFD

Team Bayside High (Da Equinox Stage, 2:00)

Another Chicago favorite whose habitat is the club, Team Bayside High labored through an early start. Having played Lollapalooza in 2010, they were not completely out of their element. Difference is, and this may have been the conflict with several acts, they inevitably end up overlapping the same tracks and remixes already used by other DJs. It must be said that Team Bayside High’s remix version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” was the most, um, original—for lack of better words. It was mellower, not trying to feed the crowd. Other than that, they put on a pretty good dance party for two in the afternoon. JFD

Quintino (Da Drive Stage, 3:00)

Immediately, Quintino brought it as if it were a Friday night club party. His “Aerodynamic Be Strong” remixes ground smoothly, grooved with precision. This is the second act from Amsterdam this weekend that really went it at it from the beginning of their set. The Dutch know how to cut loose. What’s brilliant about Guintino’s remixes is that he gives them voice. Well-placed jarbling and spiraling dischords mesh together well. He also begins each new track with a drummed anticipation that really draws the audience in, most apparently on the “Surrender” remix. Another technique he used was to not drown his set in the familiar. And when it was familiar, it took a moment to realize it. JFD

Lips N’ Meister (Da Colonnades, 3:00)

I wanted to start my second day in an area of the festival that I had yet to check out, so I strolled over to the Da Colonnades stage. Except for the couple dancing in front of the stage, the area was pretty desolate. Luckily, I was able to grab some shade by the fence and enjoy some house music courtesy of Lips N’ Meister. There weren’t any huge drops or massive basslines like I was expecting throughout the entire Sunday lineup, but they were solid within their chosen genre. Few of the songs I caught had any vocals in accompaniment; the phrases “ask yourself” and “house” were meshed into their sets as they contorted into melodic rhythms that turned out to be maybe the most peaceful act on Sunday. MA

Lance Herbstrong (Da Main Stage, 4:00)

Perhaps the most original act of the festival in that Lance Herbstrong comes with a full band, his set was at the very least unique. However, just because something is unique doesn’t mean it’s automatically good. What made this set solid was the arsenal of percussion in every shape and size, synched up with Herbstrong’s fusion of electronic and tropical sounds. Lance’s salty-voiced songs went over well for the crowd, some of whom had allegedly never seen a guitar played with a violin bow before. Many of them didn’t know what they were in for. Most of them stayed. Halfway through the set, the band got bass heavy and swampy, the highlight being a sick cover of Canned Heat’s “On The Road Again.” Refreshing to hear a cover, as opposed to a remix. Strong set, although the cover of “Sabotage” at the end felt forced. JFD

Shermanology (Da Equinox Stage, 4:00)

As the sun started to beam down, I snagged a great spot under the tent to catch Shermanology, a trio out of Amsterdam. Fine purveyors of EDM, Shermanology grabbed the audience out of the gates with their unwavering energy. When the live vocals from the lone female member (Dorothy Sherman) delivered the intro to “Blessed,” I think it caught the whole crowd by surprise. This was the weekend’s only act where the lyrics actually came live. “Levels” by Avicii was another crowd favorite, as Shermanology put their spin on the hit track, and “Somebody That I Used to Know” made another appearance on Sunday. All three members formed hearts with their hands and yelled to the crowd “You are the reason EDM exists.” Despite the Netherlands’ blunder at EuroCup 2012, Shermanology definitely scored large at Spring Awakening. MA

Nervo (Da Equinox Stage, 5:00)

Knowing that I was going to be in the tent for another two hours, I moved up a bit closer to snap some photos of twin producers Nervo. Wow! They were absolutely fantastic from start to finish. The multi-talented female artists/models/musicians showed Sunday night that they are incredible at their craft. Similar to the Joachim Garraud show from Saturday, they also snapped some pictures of the upbeat crowd ,who even managed to bring along Nervo posters supporting the ladies. With hits like “We Are All One,” people were literally standing on beams that supported the tent just to get a glimpse of them. It was an incredible performance to catch; I even had to step away at one point and take a ten-minute break just to catch my breath. Australia has produced something very special in Nervo, and I will definitely check them out next time they grace Chicago. MA

Derrick Carter (Da Main Stage, 5:00)

At this point in his career, Derrick Carter must be just as comfortable playing festivals as he is clubs. And while the crowd was sparse at the start, Carter brought it. He brought the house, not too deep, not too mainstream. It was just right to pepper the crowd with dancers. He is a true technician at blending tracks between eerie interludes and a wide array of music that subtly builds in tone and layers of rhythm. Steadily, the crowd grew, the more they danced. The stock images on the screen were all that were necessary to back him up. Perhaps Derrick Carter should’ve played at a smaller stage, just to keep the crowd tightened up, but he sure did deserve the main stage. JFD

R3hab (Da Equinox Stage, 6:00)

R3hab won the award Sunday night for most surprising performance. Whether it was dropping “Sending My Love,” or a mashup using Kelis and Calvin Harrris’s “Bounce,” R3hab jumped and sung with the crowd every second of his set. And the bass he hit you with was just unprecedented. It was so powerful and wouldn’t let you off the hook, as he gave it to you whether you were standing front and center or in the back left end of the tent. You couldn’t escape it. Your best bet was to be engulfed by the gigantic bass lines and let them vibrate through your ears and into your entire body. When R3hab played “Can’t Stop Me Now” and sung “We Will Be Coming Back” with the crowd, I scribbled in my notes section: R3hab has officially taken over Spring Awakening. Cheers, sir. MA

Green Velvet (Da Main Stage, 6:00)

Wow… For those who didn’t manage to catch Green Velvet’s set, it was the most slept-on event of the day. For those who were there, what a wonderful group of strangers. He began with a tight blend of old-school house and trance. From there it progressed into what can only and should only be called Futuristic House, at least until the future. I danced in such a way that I can never wear those Adidas again. And not to say that other DJs weren’t into it with the crowd, but Green Velvet made his presence felt. He just looked so happy up there, and even came around his deck to dance to “It’s Time For the Percolator.”  Other highlights included “Cameras Ready, Prepare To Flash” and “La La Land.” JFD

Carl Cox (Da Main Stage, 7:00)

Carl Cox’s set was very fluorescent in format and in content. Having been around for so long, the vibe among the crowd was that they knew what to expect, so there were really no big surprises. He also played at a transitional period of the festival, when everyone was either readjusting themselves or shifting into more enhanced levels. In essence, the crowd came for the name, and stayed for the atmosphere. And what an atmosphere he created, too. The trance-y but upbeat selections kept the audience from a “where to go next” attitude. And from a floor-level perspective, somewhere near the 50 yd. line, the current flowing from Cox through the crowd was just that: current. JFD

Flux Pavilion (Da Main Stage, 8:00)

Originally I was headed to Hardwell, but following the advice of my friend who just saw Flux Pavilion at EDC in Vegas, I journeyed to Da Main Stage. One of the top artists in dubstep, Flux proves that Kanye West and Jay-Z aren’t the only ones who can create a frenzy with “I Can’t Stop.” What people might not know is that this is Flux’s original beat, sampled by the duo who currently watch the throne. I threw my arms into the air and let myself get carried by the beat. Did he play his jam “Daydreaming”? Yes, silly, of course he dropped his hit on Spring Awakening, along with “Gold Dust,” which apparently had the power to create a legion of dance battles from the 10 yard line to the 40. Flux Pavilion of the UK is on my personal list of top sets of the weekend. And no, I didn’t compete in the dance battle; I didn’t want to embarrass anybody. MA

Laidback Luke (Da Equinox Stage 9:00)

Laidback Luke should have had a spot on the main stage. Somebody should have made it possible that the man would have had the big stage to show his abilities to put a fresh spin on  trance, house and bass-infused music. He played his version of “Dirty Talk” (incredible track), “Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi and then Kanye’s new joint “Mercy”! “Mercy” was the last song I expected to hear at an EDM concert, but I’m always down to yell out “swerve” as the beat drops. “Turbulence” featuring Steve Aoki and Lil’ Jon was also featured in his set, which created such a frenzy in the tent that I was forced to pack my camera up, for its own safety.. People lost their minds. Segments of the crowd then formed hearthands as he played his rendition of Swedish House Mafia’s “Save The World.” Beautiful and positive music to bring the Equinox Stage to a close for the weekend. MA

Moby (Da Main Stage, 9:00)

And just when everyone thought they knew what they were in for… Splash! More girls in bathing suits, bros with their shirts off. Everyone dancing like sex. After a tragic disappointment caused by an overzealous Boyz Noize performance and a busted speaker at 2010’s North Coast Music Festival, Moby returned to Chicago with a vengeance. And once he got going, he did not let up. His selections were bass-heavy and far more aggressive than usual. The crowd grew and grew as he continued spinning and getting them into it. Definitely one of the most high-energy sets he’s played in a while. His bombast at the end with a pressure cooker of bass and giant X on the screen behind him may have been a bit over-the-top, but whatever. Let Moby be Moby. JFD

Afrojack (Da Main Stage, 10:00)

Here’s the thing. After much consensus with big fans of dubstep/electronic music and passive fans, with older heads and younger, it’s frankly difficult to enjoy a full eight hours of these fests without mind-enhancing elements. The reason being that the majority of the crowd is up there, so it creates a certain frequency that if one is not on, then they’re isolated. A few moments before the Afrojack set, that vibe tore through Soldier Field like an offensive line. But honestly, it was hard to discern what Afrojack did differently or better than Skrillex the night before. At that point, everyone has reached a climax, and while his music is good, it is far from fresh. To top it off, to play one version of “Take Over Control” at the start of the set, then another version to end it, is just lazy, uncreative and whack. Good times, though. JFD

(For more photos from Spring Awakening, head over to Michael’s Flickr page.)

  • J Smith

    In the R3hab section the song is called “sending my love” not “spending” other than the typo he definitely we the highlight of the weekend! If you missed his set, you failed!

    • Michael Alexander

       Typo on my part , my apologies. Forgive me, it was a very extensive weekend.