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Spring Awakening After Parties Show The Deeper Side Of EDM

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 17, 2014 6:00PM

Photo of Eric Prydz via his Facebook page.
So much of React’s third annual Spring Awakening Music Festival at Soldier Field was spent in anticipation of the drop. That ear-shattering moment that has come to define electronic dance music in pop culture. The moment that brought the genre to a national stage for a proper parody just weeks ago on Saturday Night Live. The moment that festival goers live for.

At his SAMF after party late Friday night, Swedish producer Eric Prydz transcended “the drop”. Playing to a packed house at the Mid, a stripped down two and a half hour set affirmed his place among house music’s elite. At 37-years-old, Prydz has made a niche for himself in a market that often feels saturated in a melodic rinse and repeat.

With limited visual aesthetics, Prydz delivered sonically in a continuous mix structured around sweeping build ups that expand into fully realized dance beats. The set was far from the theatrics of the “EPIC” live show that found its way to the Aragon Ballroom last November. It was evidence of the effect that a technically proficient DJ can have on a crowd.

Eric Prydz owns the buildup and crafts songs that steadily work towards an infectious beat rather than dumping it on listeners with a drop. Modern dance music is fueled by instant gratification. That’s more bass, louder beats and less time spent standing still. In a culture increasingly geared towards “turning up,” an appreciation for well crafted melodies can feel all but lost. It’s DJs like Eric Prydz who are keeping this art alive

But then there’s Dillon Francis. A product of the internet and its peculiar way of making young producers overnight sensations on the festival circuit. Francis, who closed out the weekend with an after party at Transit on Sunday night is nothing like Eric Prydz.

His bouncy style finds its roots in moombahton, but the Los Angeles native is capable of everything from trap to shimmery indie pop songs. His set featured no original music, but a mix of tracks he draws inspiration from. A spectrum that goes from Biggie Smalls to Skrillex in the blink of an eye. Dillon Francis represents a younger generation of dance music. A group that follows Diplo before Daft Punk.

The show was closed out by Chicago duo The Regulators, who like Francis build momentum on hip-hop tracks that segue to hard electro breakdowns from artists like Flosstradamus. It’s party music to the very core and a complete blast to experience when the walls start shaking.

It’s easy for critics to marginalize events like Spring Awakening and its subsequent after parties under the mindless bass umbrella, but this isn’t accurate. From the brooding pulse of Eric Prydz at the Mid to the air horn blasts of Dillon Francis at Transit, the entire weekend was characterized by its distinct variety. The drop is not what makes this music such a powerful force. It’s the subtle innovations behind each and every producer commanding the dance floor.

By: Robert Martin