This past weekend, Heatwave Music Fest put on its debut festival in Chicago. In the heart of Douglass Park, EDM acts from across the country flew made the pilgrimage to the birthplace of house music for a two-day, bass-pumping music festival. 48 hours full of music, food, art, and drinks, patrons welcomed Heatwave to Chicago with open arms and hearts as a crowded Douglass Park experienced the freshest fest to grace the 2nd Best City in the World. I’m fairly new to the festival game, but the experience is not a feeling I will soon forget.
My only suggestions for next year? Bring some ear plugs and get ready to feel your bones shaking with the music.
With a trio of stages—the Reverie, the Inevitable, and the Radiance—fest goers had the opportunity to dive into not one, but three different themes for the weekend. Each stage and corresponding section of the park were donned in contemporary pop-art, bridging the gap between electronic music and other styles of new-age art. Across Douglass Park, you could find modern pieces like oversized, inflatable rubber ducks to chill by, eclectic statues of your favorite characters like Superman and a StormTrooper, and even live art that was completed mid-fest by artist Pretty Done.
The Saturday line-up featured popular artists like RL Grime, Dr. Fresh, Galantis, and Above & Beyond. While I spent a majority of my time “snacking” on a jumbo slice of pizza from the Bacci’s stand and asking strangers if they had extra glitter I could cover my face in, the Galantis show stole my attention almost immediately. With pyrotechnics and fireworks, Galantis’ set is what I would probably call my first EDM show. For the first time in years, it didn’t feel weird to be shoulder-to-shoulder with a Coors Light in hand, dancing to music and just genuinely enjoying the atmosphere.
At Heatwave, it was impossible to not make a new friend, because the attendees were quite possibly some of the nicest people I’ve ever met (I’ll never forget you Jade). Exchanging bracelets, bopping to the music, and offering… hugs.. was something that seems incredibly unique to this community who share probably one thing in common: their taste in music. Heatwave definitely came alive at night, as fans became laser-focused on light shows and shared their interesting talents of moving to the music with light-up accessories. I genuinely almost bought finger lights for fun when I got home on Saturday.
The vibe at Heatwave on Sunday was a bit different, as you could tell everyone just wanted to get in and soak up the last day of this brand-new Chicago fest. Sunday was kicked-off by Deux Saints, Win & Woo, and Birthdayy Partyy, and wrapped up by EDM stars Zeds Dead, Tiësto, and Matoma. The party didn’t stop all weekend, and I have no doubt that we’ll see Heatwave back in Chicago for many years to come. My final stop and favorite moment of the weekend wasn’t related to the music at all. In the words of Chicago legend, Kanye West, “Heatwave, Imma let you finish, but El Campeón’s quesabirria tacos had one of the best appearances of all time”.
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