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Photos: Travis Scott, DJ Snake & More Brought The Ragers At Freaky Deaky

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 31, 2016 2:30PM

Freaky Deaky, the annual EDM-plus-hip-hop festival, once again parked the carnival this weekend at the Toyota Park surface lot in Bridgeview. It arrived at a curious, perhaps critical phase in EDM’s mainstream ascent. After the initial wave crest, the genre has reanimated and stormed back to Billboard 100 ubiquity. But if Chart EDM 2.0 reflects the post-Chainsmokers rise of hooks and melody—thoroughly bro-ified and focus-tested though it may be—that impulse remained in short supply at Freaky Deaky: it was a Halloween-weekend party, and huge, bass-drop ragers ruled much of the day.

From the sometimes-aggro techno that often held court at the undercard tent to Snails’, ugh, vomitstep, so much go-hard steamrolling can overwhelm—or worse (hi, Lil Dicky’s hip-hop novelty whitewash). But the mode wasn’t entirely exclusive, and in the right hands, often the hip-hop dudes’, it suits the Freaky Deaky context as snug as a rave skull bandana.

Travis Scott takes a ton of grief for his overt Kanye-isms and technical limitations—not to mention brazen merchandizing—but the guy can totally transcend his shortcomings through force of will, especially on his best moments, like last year’s massive, hotbox anthem, “Antidote.” He’s a bit exposed without the high-caliber guest spots that offer cover on record, and no one would confuse him for an innovator, but dude absolutely knows how to wield his curatorial, magpie approach for the crowd.

Speaking of overcoming reliance on guests, DJ Khaled’s hypeman-as-artist act is something to behold. A Khaled performance in 2016 is basically exactly what you’d expect from a guy who authored a personal-growth book that features a chapter written in ALL CAPS: snippets of crowd-pleaser cuts (never full tracks) weaponized against some amorphous bloc of haters, expressed as best-self inspiration. It’s been mega-popularized of course due to Khaled’s Snapchat heroics, but his industry-lifer cred shines through, too.

As for some of the dance headliners, we hopped from Khaled to catch DJ Snake on Saturday. The French DJ went interstellar with the Lil Jon-assisted trap-EDM screamer “Turn Down For What,” but he’s also worked the “softer” Chainsmokers pivot as of late (see the Bieber-featuring smash “Let Me Love You”). No surprise, Snake stuck mainly to the screamers, pumping out a steady diet of stand-on-the-decks electro-bangers, huge enough to flirt with parody, performatively shameless enough to qualify as asset. Disclosure’s Friday night closing DJ set, on the other hand, was a happy aberration. Though the British duo has misstepped some since their world-beating “Latch” days, their crisp house-pop mix offered as a skillful, welcome third way.