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Spring Awakening Music Festival 2014, ravers head to Soldier Field for the EDM fest's final day.
Photograph: Max HermanSpring Awakening Music Festival 2014, ravers head to Soldier Field for the EDM fest's final day.

9 acts to see at Spring Awakening 2015

Written by
Robert Martin
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Bust out your kandi bracelets and start hydrating. Spring Awakening Music Festival is back for a fourth year at Soldier Field and the midwest’s largest EDM event is bigger than ever. The Bears’ home field is not often the site of a joyous occasion, but that changes this weekend as four stages worth of bass and bangers invade the historic stadium.

This year’s fest features some massive headliners like Zedd and Hardwell in addition to a handful of high value repeats from last year (Tiesto, Diplo, Tommy Trash and Sander van Doorn to name a few). With so much talent taking to the decks, we broke down our top picks by day to keep you shuffling, jiving and thumping all weekend long.

Friday

Eric Prydz

Arguably the most highly regarded DJ at Spring Awakening, Eric Prydz was in the game way before terms like “trap” or “big room” were used to described music. Yet another piece of the Swedish dance dynasty, Prydz brand of progressive house is built on complex buildups that explode into arena sized sonics unlike anything else at this festival. His one hour set on the Equinox stage is far too brief—good luck finding tickets for his sold out aftershow at the Mid.

Thomas Jack

The grandfather of the “tropical house” movement, Thomas Jack doesn't get enough credit. The Australian producer coined the term when pressured by a friend to name a genre for his smooth summery beats and now that sound has carved out a major place for itself in this scene. While Thomas Jack is the one responsible, it’s a kid named Kygo who seems to be getting all the glory these days (including a closing set at Sunday of this year’s Lollapalooza). Well, you’re still number one in our book Thomas.

The Floozies

A late addition to the lineup, The Floozies are one of the only live acts at Spring Awakening this year. The funkafied duo from Lawrence, KS consists of brothers Mark and Matt Hill ripping into a guitar and drum set over some hot beats. Sampling everything from Ludacris to Ron Burgundy, these two put on a killer set and are a nice change of pace at a festival that largely runs on laptops and mixers.

Saturday

JACK Ü

What’s weirder than Diplo and Skrillex joining forces and releasing a song with Justin Bieber? The super group’s 6:30pm time slot at Spring Awakening, of course! While it’s disappointing that two of the biggest DJs in the world were given a measly hour-long set before the sun goes down, we wouldn’t miss it for the world. JACK Ü combines the screeching energy of a Skrillex track with Diplo’s classic jungle beats to form something great. Live collaborations of this magnitude are rare in dance music and this is not one to miss.

Skream

A pioneer of dubstep, Skream rose from the UK underground to unleash his grimey basement sound on the world. The result was one of the the largest movements in modern EDM and one that helped artists like Skrillex and Excision rise to stardom in the U.S. Since then, Skream has stopped playing the bassy stuff and moved on to a more experimental and futuristic space that finds him creating everything from warehouse techno to disco and beyond. Skream is a testament to what the UK has done for dance music and without him, a good portion of this lineup may not be where they are today.

Grandtheft

Among the best remix artists around, Toronto’s Grandtheft has pulled off high quality flips of Calvin Harris, Rihanna, Schoolboy Q and countless others. Heavily endorsed by Mad Decent label head Diplo, Grandtheft is on the cusp of a debut record release and Spring Awakening is the perfect opportunity to see what he’s got in store. Taking to The Hangar stage as part of the curated “Bass Kitchen” event, the producer provides a solid middle ground between the blow your ears off bass and mellow stuff.

Sunday

Zeds Dead

One of promoter React Present’s all-time favorite artists, Zeds Dead makes multiple trips to Chicago every year. The Toronto duo recently played a two-night run for New Year's Eve and was seen at the North Coast Music Festival just a few months prior. It’s not hard to see why they keep coming back. The duo puts on a huge show and is constantly innovating. Despite coming onto the scene as a dubstep act in 2009, Zeds Dead have tried their hand at most everything and whether they’re dropping low-end bombs or producing a single with Twin Shadow, the result is always something great.

Keys N Krates

More electronic band than DJs, Keys N Krates combines live drums, keys and mixing to form something entirely its own. With a sound that leans towards hip-hop instrumental more than house music, the trio is yet another example of the diverse talent coming out of Toronto. Watching these three switch things up on the fly is a total treat and a far cry from the pre-recorded sets that too often bring down the energy of huge EDM events like Spring Awakening.

TJR

TJ Rozdilsky never planned to become a jetsetting DJ playing festivals by day and Vegas residencies by night. He went to college to become a professional golfer, but all it took was one rave to create the behemoth that is TJR. A connoisseur of the bouncey electro house that dominates festivals like SAMF, Rozdilsky doesn’t push any boundaries or change the way this music works. His songs are stupid fun and the perfect excuse to jump up and down for a while while steam cannons blast in every which way imaginable. It’s commercial EDM at its finest.

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