Stanley Sutton / DMNW

DMNW on the Road: 4 Things We Learned at Our First Spring Awakening

Boxed Water is a Thing?!

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Dance Music Northwest or its leadership.

Ever see a festival located far outside the Pacific Northwest release a lineup that makes you say: “OK, I HAVE to go to that!”? For me, that moment came when Chicago-based Spring Awakening revealed its 2018 roster earlier this year. As soon as I saw names like Kaskade, Hardwell, and Alison Wonderland, to complement a stacked trance lineup and an Oliver Heldens Heldeep stage, I purchased a round-trip airplane ticket with quickness!

Having never been to a Spring Awakening, let alone downtown Chicago, I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived; “What is the Midwest EDM crowd like?” “Why does the weather forecast keep changing every hour? Is it going to thunderstorm, or nah?” As I sit here on my flight back to Seattle, I can easily say my first Spring Awakening experience was something I will remember for the rest of my life! Here are some things I learned about the biggest EDM festival in the entire Midwest:

1. Boxed water? Say what?

One of the first things I noticed while walking around the festival on day 1 were these white milk cartons: they were all over the place! “Why are these people drinking milk with their beer? Is this a Midwest thing?” I asked myself. Upon closer inspection, these cartons weren’t filled with dairy- but with water!

Free Boxed Water Was Available To All Festival Attendees, To Go Along With Water Stations (Photo: Stanley Suttton/ DMNW)

I’ve been to many festivals, traveled to many cities, but have never seen regular h20 come in milk cartons! Being promoted as environmental friendly, could these things be more prominent at festivals around the country in the near future?

The Benefits of Boxed H20 (Photo: Stanley Sutton/ DMNW)

2. The Midwest turns out HEAVY for this

The crowd was dominated by Midwesterners: a lot of people from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan. There were also many European flags; I counted at least six different countries being represented, and in the three days I was there I only met two people from the west coast!

(Photo: Stanley Sutton / DMNW)

I learned quickly how fun the Midwest EDM crowd is! There was nothing but good vibes all around; I had many random people wanting to high five me, and others around. I got to meet the Chicago Trance Family, albeit a small group, and they made me feel welcomed as we danced and caught the feels in the trance arena.

With Chicago’s next big thing: Porn and Chicken! (Photo: Stanley Sutton/ DMNW)

I didn’t see any fights. Even in the raucous Bass Kitchen tent on Day 3, people helped each other up when someone fell to the ground. One of the more wonderful sights I saw was strangers approaching people who partied a little too hard, asking if they’re okay, and providing comfort. Considering the on-site harm reduction presence was shockingly small for an event of this magnitude, it warmed my heart to see the attendees looking out for each other.

3. ‘God’s Plan’ is here to stay

Admit it: you know the words. The most played song at Ultra Miami continues to dominate the festival circuit as we dive deeper into the Summer.

At Spring Awakening, it was one of the most-played tracks. Instead of playing the original version, performers like Tiesto, Zedd, and Slander dished up some fun remixes over the weekend, which got the crowd chanting “I only love my bed, and my momma, I’m sorry!” Every. Single. Time. If you’re tired of hearing this at festivals, you’re S.O.L. Drizzy’s hit is here for the long haul!

4. Chicago’s underrated bass scene

I can see why Excision chose the middle of nowhere Ohio as the home of his Lost Lands festival: the Midwest has some bass heads! Spring Awakening’s last two days featured heavy doses of all things bass, especially riddim!

The crowd showed up in full force for NGHTMRE and Flux Pavilion– there was nowhere to move, even in the VIP area where I was situated!

Get your hands up! @itsbeargrillz #samf #springawakening #dancemusicnw

A post shared by Stanley (@stanleypnw) on

Day 3 saw the Bass Kitchen Stage cooking up some serious heat. Featuring Figure, Bear Grillz, Flux P b2b Doctor P, and more, the tent was basshead heaven; full, and always rocking! Hopefully, next year, this stage will be a more-than-one-day affair.

Stay tuned for DMNW’s full Spring Awakening 2018 review!

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