Freaky Deaky 2015: Review
Photos and Review by: Ryan Blair
Festival: Freaky Deaky
Date: October 30th, 31st, & Nov. 1st
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Music: EDM and Hip-Hop
Price: Weekend Pass-$199/ Day Pass- $99
This year Freaky Deaky had the ambitious task of turning their annual Halloween event into a three day music festival that graced Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. There are many factors to consider when throwing a festival, but luckily React Presents has had lots of practice with Spring Awakening, Summer Set (Our Review), and North Coast and all that experience shines through with Freaky Deaky.
The festival took place in the parking lot of Toyota Park which usually hosts the Chicago Fire soccer team. Some festival attendees were disappointing that the stages didn’t reside within the soccer stadium, but the setup outside provided more than enough room for the weekend. Perhaps as Freaky Deaky grows even larger in the future they can make their way inside for an even bigger Halloween celebration.
Overall Freaky Deaky did an incredible job at providing a promising experience for all the people in attendance. There was a handful of food trucks offering up traditional favorites like pizza, corn dogs, and fried chicken and there were also beverages vendors at every corner of the festival grounds for easy access. While many festivals skimp on bathroom facilities, Freaky Deaky provided an oasis of porta potties so that your time could be spent enjoying the music rather than standing in line.
The one area I saw that could use a major improvement for the future was the water refilling station. Freaky Deaky opted to have one station that consisted of approximately ten 10-gallon Gatorade containers. There was a crew of staff members that actively cycled the containers filling them with tap water to ensure that they would be full for the next person in line. The limited number of active containers and the excessive time it takes for the un-pressurized containers to distribute water caused large lines to accumulate at the station. It was easy to get water during the day, but it became a process once crowds arrived for the headliners. I’m assuming they chose to use the large Gatorade jugs because of a lack of available resources in the parking lot of Toyota Park and i’m hoping it can be handled better in the future.
There were three elaborate stages each of which featured it’s own large tent to accommodate all but the largest of crowds. This was a brilliant move by React Presents for two main reasons. The first is that weather in Illinois is about as sporadic as it gets and an event this late in the year can have weather representative of any of the four seasons. The tents provided some much needed shelter against the elements. Luckily this year’s weather was surprisingly mild and it only rained a little on Saturday afternoon, but the tents served their purpose beautifully when the rain started falling.
The other great reason to have tents at Freaky Deaky was that it helps raise the intensity of the performances. The production value of the stages was over the top with massive LED screens and more lasers than I can count. The tents provided a roof for the lasers and lights to reflect off of which helped pack more energy into the bass heavy performances.
The stages were actually stationed relatively close to each other in the parking lot however there was surprisingly little sound bleed. With the two largest stages positioned on the outside, the crypt sat comfortably in between them and provided music no matter what part of the lot people were in. The close proximity of the stages provided just enough space for clear audio and quick walks between each stage.
The Shrine was modeled after a creepy old cathedral complete with two story tall LED screens that mimicked the curved design of traditional stained glass windows. There was no true headlining stage as The Shrine and The Big Top shared those duties, but this was were the biggest dance acts of the weekend through down their sets. With acts like Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Armin van Buuren, Griz, Keys N Krates, and A-trak, this stage provided everything needed to dance your way through the weekend.
The Big Top:
The Big Top mirrored The Shrine in both size and production value but this stage was modeled after a creepy circus instead. It had several large LED screens on either side of the stage that were surrounded with traditional circus striped curtains and a couple more front and center. The Big Top hosted most of the Hip-Hop heavy acts like 2 Chainz, Mac Miller, Joey Bada$$ and Logic but they threw a couple popular dance favorites in with Big Gigantic, Datsik, Flying Lotus and Grandtheft.
The final of the three stages was The Crypt which stayed true to it’s name with a giant skull placed above the entrance to the stage. This stage wasn’t as large or elaborate as the others, but that doesn’t mean it was any less impressive. It packed a punch with an overload of LED screens that hung from the ceiling and flashed lights above the crowd. The Crypt was also known as Beatports Trance Arena and featured house Dj’s like Markus Schulz, Audien, Gesaffelstein, and Shiba San.
It’s official, the best place to be on Halloween is at a music festival. That said, the absolute best time to throw a music festival is on Halloween. This makes for the perfect combination of music, costumes, and holiday celebration. I’ve never seen so many people dress up in creative outfits in my life. Everybody at the Freaky Deaky festival fully embraced the event advisory that stated costumes are encouraged which made for the unique experience of dancing with Santa and his elves, a squad of rowdy Pikachus, and Hunter S. Thompson himself. Music festivals are already places of good attitudes and celebrations, but the costumes helped display creativity and provided the perfect ice breaker. The endless smiles and priceless interactions make me wish it were more acceptable to wear costumes in our daily lives.
As if 100 of the top artists in electronic music and hip-hop aren’t entertaining enough, Freaky Deaky wants to make sure there’s never a dull moment by providing vendors and carnival rides/games. The ferris wheel has quickly become a staple of music festivals across the nation providing the perfect platform to see the festival crowds from above. There was also a gaint boat style swing for those seeking more of a thrill. In addition Freaky Deaky provided several popular carnival games like the milk jug toss which fit perfectly with the creepy festival nostalgia.
Freaky Deaky’s VIP setup didn’t change the Freaky Deaky experience it just enhanced it in the small ways that helped make for a smoother and better all around experience. First was the VIP fast lane when entering the festival. The general attendance lines grew long especially during peak hours (It takes a long time to search thousands of bags) but the VIP entrance rarely had anybody in it allowing for a spacious viewing experience.