Back to the Basics at Freaky Deaky
Some festivals are all about the frills. Freaky Deaky takes the frills and puts it back into the music. React Presents has been turning out a ton festivals these past couple years, and with each year the lineups keep getting better. This year’s biggest Midwest Halloween party brought the likes of Disclosure, Jamie Jones, Jauz, Schoolboy Q, Tiesto, and more. At Toyota Park in the outskirts of Chicago, this intimate festival made for easy navigation and maximum music.
There were only three stages at Freaky Deaky, all with their own personal flare. Surrounding a small carnival complete with Ferris wheel and Fireball ride, the stages were almost in a straight line across Toyota Park. The Big Top held a variety of acts from local high schooler Whethan to Schoolboy Q and Jauz. Under a large big top tent, the stage had a creepy carnival theme with a sign at the top of the stage that read “The Freaky Deaky Show.” The Shrine looked like something out of Tomb Raider and had a similar size and atmosphere. Disclosure, Tiesto, and Duke Dumont took to this stage to warm everyone up. The hottest (literally) of the stages was the Crypt.
A small stage tucked in between the other two, The Crypt was the rage stage on Friday and held the niche artists like Lee Foss and Jamie Jones the rest of the weekend. All three stages remained extremely easy to navigate as each were only a few steps away from each other. One could easily hit all three stages and back without missing a set, yet the sound didn’t bleed. In the center of everything, a huge metal sculpture with remote-control flame throwers at the tips, enough to catch the eye of anyone in the area. Occasionally, performers, hula hoop dancers, jugglers, dancers would perform near the sculpture. The whole spectacle added to the Freaky atmosphere.
React Presents has a way of bringing what Chicago wants to hear. With each stage having its own personality, each artist that entered that stage also brought something special to the table. Lil’ Dicky showed everyone what it was like to feel special and laugh a little. He even brought a member of the crowd onto the stage for a little “Bump N Grind,” which had everyone in a frenzy. Disclosure played a house-filled DJ set that only those brothers could bring to the festival. They stuck with the Halloween theme and opened their set with the classic “Thriller,” which caught the attention of everyone around.
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike was an act that I have admittedly avoided at every festival despite rave reviews from around the globe. Finally giving into the hype, their set was highly predictable yet surprisingly entertaining, and I found myself ending up at their set over the others in the same time slot. High schooler and area local Whethan had a great performance with a ton of his school friends cheering him on from the crowd. This kid already has festivals lined up for 2017 including Electric Forest, and his current music reminiscent of Louis the Child and Gryffin is a new style creeping up all over. Speaking of Gryffin, his one man show never gets old, and he killed it at the Big Top. Metro Boomin’ had a huge crowd and kept it hood, with everyone belting each lyric line after line the entire set, and ton of top 40 hits boomed from the stage.
Lee Foss taught everyone that the life of a DJ is fast paced and you can still kill the house vibes while munching on some food at the same damn time. Boys Noize was a favorite of the weekend, playing non-stop, 4-on-the-floor in combination with amazing visuals for the best of the entire experience. Duke Dumont, while a favorite artist, played a fairly typical set for the festival crowd, but his after party was truly where he brought things deep down and dirty. Jauz stole the show at the end of the festival with a louder and larger than life set that has topped any of his seen so far. His sound and persona keep getting larger and we can’t get enough.
All of the music at Freaky Deaky held a particular level of amazing. It’s strange yet beautiful that there can be such an event that carries a variety of hip-hop and electronic music both together in harmony.
Even though Freaky Deaky technically ended before the day of Halloween, people still dressed up for the occasion. However, it felt like more people should have gotten into the spirit of things. Whether it was the weather or simple lack of enthusiasm, the costume ratio was probably 60 percent costumes and 40 percent other, which feels low for a Halloween-themed festival. Some did manage large elaborate cosplay outfits complete with stilts and the lot but, let’s be honest, there were a few too many Harley Quinns and cat ears.
The World Series
Freaky Deaky happened to fall on a historic weekend. The first day of the festival happened to be the same day that the World Series made its critical turn; the Cubs had to win the next three games in a row to take the series. Freaky Deaky wanted to make sure that Chicagoans could still enjoy the festival without abandoning their Cubbies, so they had a projection screen playing the game at the opposite end of the festival. It was perfect, one could walk from the Shrine to the Big Top and catch a glimpse of the World Series score on the way. It helped bring those who would have skipped the festival in order to catch the game (yes, people are that into it). The best of both worlds. Sports at a music festival is somewhat rare, but it makes sense that the people of Chicago wouldn’t have it any other way.
In all, even though Freaky Deaky doesn’t add a ton of bells and whistles to the festival, they let the music and costumes do the talking. React Presents knows when to go all out and when to bring it back to the basics, because we’re in it for the music anyway, right? Catch you next year!