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Weather, Logistics Prove Daunting At Wavefront Festival

By Soyoung Kwak in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 3, 2012 9:05PM

People from all over the country gathered at Montrose Beach for the inaugural Wavefront Music Festival.

Logistically, Wavefront felt like a first year festival. The use of space was questionable and inhibited by the unusual beach setting. Food stands and shops were placed rather close to the entrance, which created a bottleneck into the festival grounds. Certain areas were extremely open and comfortable, while others were navigational nightmares. Lines for drink tickets were at times extremely long, which only led more long lines to actually get the drinks.

Additionally, there was significant soundbleed between the two main stages, and while this is generally unavoidable in a festival setting, it was only enhanced by their close proximity. The festival's supporting stages, the Local Stage and Solar Beatz Stage, felt superfluous in their diminutive size and awkward placement on the grounds. If Wavefront is to move forward as a yearly endeavor, they will need to rethink how to maximize the space given, and perhaps look at consolidating the smaller stages.

As for the music, Saturday featured solid mid-day DJ sets from Visionquest, Art Department, and Matthew Dear on the North Stage. We caught a few minutes of Serge Devant’s early set on the South Stage, complete with dancers dancing in bright wigs and white pleather outfits (we don’t know how comfortable they were in the 90-degree heat).

Visionquest, a DJ collaborative out of Detroit, started off their set with a mini-light show complete with working fog machine—at 2:30 in the afternoon!—promising a solid and very visually stimulating set. The crowd was slow to gather but that didn’t stop Canadians Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White, also known as Art Department, from taking over where Visionquest left off and energizing the audience with their mix of vocal/tech-house tracks.

The highlight for us Saturday was witnessing Matthew Dear’s DJ set at 5:30 p.m. on the North Stage. For those who aren’t familiar with Matthew Dear, not only is he a DJ mastermind, he is also an experimental pop artist and surprised the crowd with his dance-friendly techno/house mixes. After Dear’s set, we made our way to the South Stage to catch the last few minutes of Bad Boy Bill, who has been part of the Chicago house scene since the 1980s. The crowd at the South Stage was considerably larger than the crowd at the North Stage, and it was tough to find a good spot to see MSTRKRFT. When MSTRKRFT took the stage, they engaged the crowd and started their explosive set by playing both remixes and original material.

Boys Noize and Erick Morillo capped off a very successful first day of the festival, with Boys Noize creating a lot of buzz for his set at the end of the night on the North Stage.

We arrived early Sunday to catch Pat Mahoney, Shit Robot, and James Murphy. Twenty-three minutes into Pat Mahoney’s disco-sprinkled set (straight-up DJing with vinyl records), the festival crew pulled the plug on the sound system due to threat of lightning closing in on Montrose Beach. We were told to evacuate the beach and to seek shelter before the powerful thunderstorm hit festival grounds. After two hours of milling about at nearby shelter with fellow festival-goers and worrying if we’d get to see any artists representing DFA Records, we witnessed James Murphy entering the festival to get ready for his set. The festival was clear to re-open around 2:45 p.m. but immediate excitement was trumped by the disappointing announcement that all of the sets from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. were cancelled and there would be no “make-up performances” by the artists whose sets were skipped over due to the weather. General consensus in the lines waiting to re-enter the festival was that most people were frustrated by the weather delay and bummed to miss James Murphy, but some people hoped he would at least hop on stage for a guest set later in the day.

After the threat of the storm passed, the sun felt hotter than ever as we caught Danny Daze, Lee Foss, and Benoit & Sergio on the North Stage, as others hurried to the South Stage to catch Nadia Ali’s half-hour set and Chris Lake’s set at 4:30 p.m. Daze warmed up the crowd with his consistent techno/Italo set. Lee Foss took over on the North Stage at 4:00 p.m. and started the party. The highlight of Lee Foss’ set was his excellent remix of Lana Del Rey’s track, “Blue Jeans.” Five p.m. rolled around and DC’s Benoit & Sergio took the stage and were charming from the first minute of their set. They opened their set quietly, only to ease into their playful signature vocal/dance/electro-pop tracks, including “Walk and Talk”. Speaking and engaging the crowd, they were easily the highlight of the afternoon and even played a little bit longer as Guy Gerber was a little late to his set.

Even though Sunday didn’t start off on the right foot, the festival closed out with a final set featuring a bit of “old” mixed in with the “new,” as Sasha, a DJ legend of his own right from England, closed down the evening on the North Stage as Duck Sauce took over on the South Stage.

Jake Guidry also contributed to this post.