The festival’s move to the suburbs followed a failed attempt to relocate from Addams/Medill Park to Douglas Park in Chicago. Putting a positive spin on the move, organizers said the new space for the three-day event is nearly triple the size of last year’s event and combines a major plot of grassland designed for outdoor music events as well as a sizable part of neighboring Sears Center Arena.
According to Hoffman Estates officials, Poplar Creek has a considerable history when it comes to music. Not only is it the home of a massive arena but it’s also home to a beer garden and outdoor weekly concerts during the summer. “It’s really a hidden gem in our town,” said Dan O’Malley, Hoffman Estates Deputy Village Manager.
Chicago-based React Presents seems right at home in the suburbs, announcing a lineup of over 60 artists as the festival returns for its eighth year on June 7 through 9.
“They (React) always thought it was kind of funny they were going downtown in the middle of the city of Chicago to attract a demographic that was basically a suburban demographic,” Hoffman Estates Village Manager Jim Norris told GoPride.com.
The Northwest suburb is not only excited to be hosting the festival, stating the area was designed with an overbuilt infrastructure for water, sewage, and roadways, but officials see this an economic opportunity as well.
“It helps to get a whole group of people that may or may not have ever been to Hoffman Estates or the Sears Center Arena to actually know where it is now and start thinking about it as a possible destination for them in the future based on whatever concerts or events we have there,” said Norris.
However, the major move from Chicago to the suburbs has put pressure on React. One concern is transportation to and from the Village. For the first time, promoters will be offering on-site parking for $20 per car per day or $50 for the entire weekend. Advance parking passes are available online. A ride-share system will also be implemented.
Village officials noted that since the festival can draw nearly 30,000 attendees that there will not be enough parking for everyone and they strongly urge the use of public transit.
Complimentary shuttle buses will be provided from 12 p.m. – 12 a.m. daily from the Rosemont Blue Line “L” station, which runs 24 hours. Festival-goers can also use the direct shuttles from the Elgin and Barrington Metra stops, but promoters warn the last Metra train to Chicago departs shortly after the show ends, meaning attendees might have to leave the festival early to catch the train. Metra officials in a statement said that they are aware of the festival and that it is too early to decide if they will be adding an extra train.
With so many ways to get there, attendees seem unfazed at the new location. Seasoned festival-goer and founder of EDM fashion company EVOL Chicago, Misha Pavelko, said the new location may even improve ticket sales. He tours over 30 festivals a year with his company and is going into his third year as an official vendor at Spring Awakening.
“The lineup is so ridiculously good in terms of very well-balanced genres and acts. I think that it will pull the proper crowds that it always does, and I think that it’s almost better that they’re now out in the suburbs” Pavelko told GoPride.com.
He went on to compliment React for the new location, “When you have a small town like Hoffman Estates, you work directly with the mayor or whoever else is in charge to make sure everything is done correctly and executed properly. I think it was a good move.
“There’s a train that goes out there, there’s a bunch of hotels, there’s Air B&B’s; If festival-goers need to make it out there, they’ll find a way to do it” he added.
One of his favorite stories was when he and his friends went to Freaky Deaky, a yearly festival at Toyota Park. Since there is no easy public transportation to the venue, which is located in Southwest suburban Bridgeview, Pavelko and his friends rented a 15 passenger “church van” to make the trek. “Every day we would fill the van,” he recalled. “We decided ahead of time for each day who was going to drive there sober and who was going to drive back sober. That way everybody had a chance to have a good time and we could all get there and back safely.”
“That’s the way to do it,” agreed Norris. “Be smart, be respectful, enjoy the heck out of yourself while you’re there, make sure somebody is responsible for getting all of you back safely.”
The Hoffman Estates Mayor and village board are no strangers to festivals and large events, many of them seasoned concert-goers themselves. When asked if they will be in attendance at Spring Awakening, Mayor Bill McLeod quickly said they “were certainly going to be stopping by” adding that they want to “see how it actually flows and to see if this going to be an annual thing and make improvements.”
The Village plans to have police patrols and emergency services readily available. McLeod, having a large family of his own, said he takes safety very seriously. “If it’s handled well, and we don’t have any serious problems, I think that would be the most important thing,” he said.
Officials were quick to illustrate the delicate balance between having a good time and getting home safely, stressing that once the festival is over for the day that attendees have a plan for getting home. They strongly urged people to have a backup plan if they are under the influence.
“If we see somebody that’s obviously under the influence and they act like they’re about to get in and drive a car, then [the police] are going to intervene and ask the right questions,” said Norris.
Hoffman Estates Police Sargent Mark Mueller told GoPride.com the police department is accustomed to handling large crowds and will be in place to answer any questions and to direct traffic out safely.
“Because this is a new area for this concert, one of our main concerns is that everyone finds where they’re going and gets home safely,” he said. “We’re here to help.”
Amidst the changes and challenges this year, promoters and city officials all have high hopes for the festival. With such an impressive lineup, more space, plenty of transportation options and nearby hotels, this year has the potential to be the best Spring Awakening Music Festival yet.
“I have a really good feeling about this, to be honest,” Pavelko concluded.
The Village of Hoffman Estates shared the sentiment. “We’d like to see React be successful enough at this event that they decide it’s worthwhile to bring some of these acts together and do something in the winter inside the arena,” Norris added. “This genre of music really doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot of those. We see an opportunity for that to potentially happen by partnering with React, and hopefully, this will be so successful that they’ll want to do that.”
Spring Awakening will be the largest festival Hoffman Estates has hosted, beating its famous annual 4th of July fireworks celebration, which draws upwards of 30,000 people to the free event.
Some notable acts for Spring Awakening include Galantis, Zomboy, Yellow Claw, Malaa, Dillon Francis, Flosstradamus B2B 4B, Benny Benassi, Space Jesus, Chris Lake, Shiba San, Liquid Stranger, Claptone, Nora En Pure and many more. This year’s Branded Stage showcases will be hosted by Destructo’s AMFAMFAMF (All My Friends), Above & Beyond’s Anjunabeats, and React’s very own Bass Kitchen.
Spring Awakening tickets are on sale at springawakeningfestival.com.