Story by: Robert Martin
Photos by: Michael Holtberg (Kin Yau Photography)
The weekend was a cold and rainy mess for the entire state of Illinois and its pair of high-profile music festivals. There was no escaping the mud and ceaseless downpour, whether catching some vibes with the legendary jam bands of Chillicothe's Summer Camp or raving all night to the all-star DJs and producers of Joliet’s Electric Daisy Carnival Chicago. Finding myself at the latter, it was increasingly clear that no weather advisory would be enough to stop what was easily the most high-end electronic dance festival the midwest has ever seen.
So how did EDC Chicago fare? With over 60,000 attendees over a 3-day span, the event was massive, and received well by what seemed a sea of smiling faces and positive energy. Insomniac clearly put every bit of their festival prowess into the region’s first event of this sort, and the production quality was nothing short of spectacular. Rural Illinois is by no means Las Vegas, but the gigantic Chicagoland Speedway perfectly accommodated five distinct stages, a whole carnival of rides, and art installations that flawlessly illuminated the night sky.
Then of course, there’s the music. The inaugural EDC Chicago delivered a lineup of world class DJs spinning everything from the deepest house and trance to the modern contemporary sounds of moombahton and trap. Schedule conflicts were abundant, and the only shame is that it was impossible to see all the amazing talent that was brought in for the weekend. That being said, there were a number of standouts in my two-day stint in Joliet.
In a strange turn of events, the Swedish house mammoth was not granted a mainstage spot for his two hour slot at this year’s event. This didn’t stop a sizable portion of EDC Chicago’s crowd from invading the smaller “CircuitGrounds” stage from every possible angle for one of the weekend’s best sets. The target of much criticism in the past few months, from a snarling GQ article to an off-kilter Ultra set, the 23-year-old has had some time to clear his head, and not a moment of his two hours on stage was met with anything less than sheer love from this audience. This was Bergling in his finest form, even taking a moment to mix Chicago Blackhawk’s home game winning anthem “Chelsea Dagger” into his set to coincide with their Saturday victory.
Awarded two sets at EDC Chicago, the notoriously wild Israeli dubstep producer threw down at both the fitting “Bass Pod” on Saturday and the larger “CircuitGrounds” Sunday. Everything about Borgore is over the top. Starting with his ridiculous raps about ice cream and pornstars divulging into his glitchy extreme bass style. This made for a complete surprise at the live show. Mixing a good deal of notable trap, house, and bass tracks from Diplo to Skrillex in his set, Borgore proved he was more than the meme. The oversexed nympho has a good deal of talent beneath all the grime and filth of his original work. Bonus points for closing out both sets with an all out crowd singalong of the bizarre Miley Cyrus x Borgore collab “Decisions”.
EDC Chicago marked the very first festival appearance for one of the fastest rising names in the trap game, and Brillz was on point. Shredding through a set that included much of his March full length debut “TWONK”, Brillz seemed as festival ready as one can be. The energy was high, and the producer looked thrilled to run the trap in front of such a densely packed crowd. EDC Chicago was chalked full of heavy hitter names like Tiesto and Benny Benassi, but the fresh talent still served up some of the best moments all weekend.
There is unfortunately no recording of Brillz’ Saturday set, but this track set the crowd off more than anything.
I didn’t know much about this UK duo going into the festival, but their Sunday slot before Borgore made me a fan. An eclectic combination of house of bass, Jack Beats provided a perfect dance fix for the early evening crowd that was willing to ride out the heavy relentless rain, buttering everyone up for what was to come. The weather was out of control at this point, and it took skill to keep the crowd from running to the nearest garage for shelter from the cold. Jack Beats was capable, and kept the crowd jumping in what had become an all out mud pit.
Despite not even being on this year’s lineup, Knife Party wins an honorable mention simply for the number of times their new track “LRAD” was dropped at EDC Chicago. From Sander van Doorn to Borgore, everyone was giving love to KP’s newest EP “Haunted House”, and for good reason.