Evan Hazlett | November 2017
This past weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Freaky Deaky, a two-day “music festival” held on Friday October 28th and Saturday October 29th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the Wisconsin Center. The lineup featured two main headliners, Griz and Bassnectar. Griz was set to play on Friday following openers such as Flatbush Zombies, Boogie T, Opiuo, and Plaid Hawaii. Bassnectar’s Saturday performance included supporting acts such as Ganja White Night, Bleep Bloop, Mija, and Artifakts.
This year’s Freaky Deaky was very different than the past years. Previously, the event was a three-day music festival held only in Chicago, Illinois. This year, react decided to expand the event into a “Midwest takeover” and have events in not only Chicago, but Milwaukee, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. I have to say I was very disappointed in this decision. From the research I did scanning social media platforms such as twitter, Facebook, reddit, and radiate (a new social media specifically for music festivals) many people agreed with my disappointment and were not happy with the decision to expand. The Milwaukee lineup included the most well-known headliners, while the other lineups including Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor featured less known headliners and smaller acts. The Milwaukee lineup proved to be the favorite because it was the event that most resembled a music festival. The events in other locations were not festivals but merely concerts. Before I moved to Chicago for college, Freaky Deaky was the Chicago festival I was most excited to attend. When they announced this change, I was very disappointed, and it was not until the lineup was released that I decided to still attend. I had been waiting years to see Griz, and I would finally have my chance in Milwaukee.
I had planned to stay in an Airbnb with about 15 other ravers I had met through the festival social media app Radiate. Our only form of communication was through the app, and our snapchat group called #WeLit Freaky Deaky Safehouse. “Safehouse” meaning that everyone in the chat had been verified by sending a picture of them holding a quarter. I will have to admit I was nervous about staying with a group of strangers but over the course of the month I grew more comfortable with these people and began to be overwhelmingly excited to meet them. Their positive messages would brighten my day and never fail to make me smile.. I have never witnessed people so fun, kind, caring, and wild. They made Freaky Deaky one of the best festivals I have ever attended.
The best part of the festival came with Griz’s performance on Friday night. His performance was everything I could have imagined. Hearing him play the saxophone live, with the electric beats in the background felt like a movie. His visuals displayed all sorts of colors and positive messages. I was especially surprised with the crowd’s mood when I attempted to reach front row halfway through the performance. I had made this my goal, and after twenty minutes I could bear being in the middle no more; to the front I went. Usually when one tries to get to the front, they are bombarded with nasty remarks, shoves, and unhappy glares. This was exactly the opposite of what I experienced. I was matched with smiles and laughter, and it almost seemed as if the crowd was pushing me to the front. I ended up making it, and this made Griz’s performance even more extraordinary than I thought before. One of the most special parts of the performance was Griz collabing with Boogie T to release a brand-new single they both had been working on. It was so cool to be the first audience to hear this brand new single live.
Bassnectar’s performance was slightly less amazing than Griz’s but none the less was a great show. His use of lasers and confetti throughout the show had the audience feeling as if they were in a dream. A large criticism that myself, the rave fam, and many others read online was the lack of original songs by Bassnectar. I was disappointed to not hear his songs, but remixes of others. I hope in the future I am able to see some of Bassnectar’s original songs and not just adaptations of others. Besides for this dissatisfaction, the overall performance was great. Bassnectar performances along with the crowds that attend them truly have a way of making you feel like you are a part of something bigger, and like you are a part of a huge family.
Besides the headliners, I very much enjoyed the supporting acts. Boogie T and Plaid Hawaii had me grooving and dancing the night away long before Griz appeared on stage. I will definitely be checking them out again. Ganja White Night gave an outstanding performance and truly stole the show Saturday night. Mija was one of the only openers I did not end up enjoying. Her sound was repetitive and boring, and the crowd did not hesitate to express that. It seemed like she was playing for a bored, straight faced audience that couldn’t wait for the next act to begin.
Overall, this turned out to be the best way I could have spent Halloween weekend. The event in Milwaukee exceeded my expectations and now I’m not so against the Midwest Takeover they expanded to this year. I still wish the Milwaukee headliners would have played in Chicago because I think the larger city scale would have made the events more drawing to individuals, but none the less Milwaukee impressed me. A friend once said Milwaukee raves are the best raves, and though I disagree because Detroit vibes are home vibes, Milwaukee gives home a little competition.