Freaky Deaky 2016 – Three Nights of Epic Music
By Ryan Haber
This Halloween was one I will always remember. Chicago is always a great place to spend Halloween. In this big city there is always something fun and plenty of people out in costume. This year I suited up and headed to Toyota Park for Freaky Deaky 2016. React Presents definitely showed me a different side of Halloween and I am glad they did. This event was a great one, packed with a variety of acts and some awesome costumes it is a must do if you are in the Chicago area.
Acts played on 3 different stages during the festival. The stages are only a short distance from each other, which made it very easy to walk from one stage to the next. This was a nice change from some of the larger or more spacious festivals. The way the grounds are set up allow you maximize your time and get the most bang for your buck. With such a strong lineup there were plenty of reasons to stage-hop throughout the weekend.
In addition to the close proximity, the grounds boasted an impressive food selection conveniently placed between the stages. There were a bunch of options, I made sure to hit many stands and filled up on some good eats. Upon arrival I devoured some Buffalo Chicken Tacos which was a good way to fuel up my Friday night. Over the weekend I hit a bunch of the vendors taking down a massive plate of Lo Mein, a LOT of French Fries, Pizza, an Asian Chicken Wrap, a Corn-Dog and of course a FUNNEL CAKE! There were many options including Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free foods to make sure that everyone was well accommodated at Freaky Deaky 2016.
A nice aspect of Freaky Deaky 2016 was the size of the crowd. All festival-goers know the grief of having to push through a crowd to get a good look at your favorite artist or losing a friend on the way to the bathroom; this was not the case at Freaky Deaky. The capacity and attendance was handled spectacularly. As I looked around I saw many people having fun but wasn’t overwhelmed by a flood of people rushing by me. This was a nice change from the standard festival setting and made for a great atmosphere, which brings me to my next point, the people.
This was such a great festival experience for me and one of the highlights was the people near me. I went out of my way to branch off from my friends and just feel this show out, and that was a great decision. The attendees at Freaky Deaky 2016, The Freaks, were great. It was one of the nicest crowds I have ever been a part of. My entire weekend was punctuated by new encounters with awesome people. I took tons of snapchats with people in similar costumes, I met a few hoopers and made a lot of new friends. The PLUR vibes were alive, and it was nice to see all these people coming together in a positive and energetic way.
Obviously, with this being a Halloween weekend event, there were some a lot of really great costumes. I came across some emojis, cows, scarecrows, skeletons, zombies, witches, spiders, a pumpkin, a banana, and lots of bloody gory people. I finally found Waldo, saw Trump, King Tut, a lot of cats, a few Harley Quinns, Batman, Superman, The Joker, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, some court jesters, 3 Blind Mice and caught a Pikachu. Oh and the Pandas; I saw enough to get them off the endangered species list! The Panda Squad was out in full-force and is now up there with iconic fan bases such as HDYNATION, Mello Gang, Chipotle Gang & The Juggalos.
That’s not all, this festival had rides, a ferris wheel and another crazy swinging contraption called the “Freak Out” for the real thrill seekers. There were lockers, charging stations and plenty of access to water stations for that vital hydro-pack. The merch tent was great and had a humorous “Make America Lit Again” hat that had me cracking up. There were dancers everywhere and some impressive fire-breathers. Drink access was awesome: I never waited more than 30 seconds before ordering, and with those nifty NFC wristbands, payment was a breeze. I drank a few Coronas & Tocayos, and was sure to hit the Monaco Cocktails booth to try all the different flavors. These drinks are quite tasty and are a great alternative for the of-age non-beer drinkers.
Friday’s line-up was great. Gareth Emery, Nervo, Travi$ Scott, Bro Safari all put on great shows. I had the pleasure of seeing Disclosure for my fourth time and they definitely didn’t disappoint. The UK duo pulled out all the stops playing lots of their hits from Settle and Caracal.
As great as Disclosure was, my favorite of Friday night set came from the superstars Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. It is no wonder that these two were places at the number 2 spot on DJ Mag’s Top 100 for 2016. These Belgian brothers put on a show to remember. They got the whole crowd involved and played an awesome set list.
Saturday was amazing, my first stop was Brodinski. This funky Frenchman put on an awesome set which consisted on Techno laced with cool hip-hop attributes. I followed it up with Marc Kinchen aka MK. Hailing from The D, this DJ legend put up a fantastic display of deep house. Claptone followed up MK with another great house set in a cool mask and was very appreciative of his fans, clapping for them at the end of his set. Dubfire put on a great set but was covered by a series of screens in front of him. It gave the stage a super-cool look but hindered the view from the crowd. Gramatik was a mind-blowing performance hitting tons of genres from downtempo all the way to dubby mixes and of course throwing in some hip-hop. A$AP Ferg truly brought the New York vibe playing mostly his songs from Always Strive & Prosper including “New Level”.
I finished Saturday night by heading over to DJ Khaled. Khaled come out with incredible fun energy put on a terrific show. After the first fifteen minutes of the show I totally forgot about the other stages. This set consisted of tons of great club hits from the past five years and was extremely fun.
Sunday was, in my opinion, the best single-day line-up offered at Freaky Deaky. Duke Dumont killed it yet again throwing down a powerful set. Desiigner followed him on The Shrine stage. This was something really special. I have never seen any act with so much energy and enthusiasm put into their performance. Seeing someone be that active and dedicate so much emotion is truly a cool experience especially when you are up close. I got my “Panda” on and headed for the Jauz Show. Jauz was a very cool show and probably was the best DJ set of the weekend. I caught a few minutes of Guy Gerber & Jaime Jones both of these guys were great. I finished my night with Schoolboy Q. I have been a long time listener of the Top Dawg Entertainment artists and was very excited to see Q. Playing songs from Oxymoron and Blank Face LP it was an awesome way to end the night.
Overall, Freaky Deaky 2016 was a fantastic festival and a spectacular way to spend my Halloween weekend. I know all my fellow attendees had a great time and I hope all that missed will experience this Freaky event next year. See you in 2017, Freaks!