By living in Chicago you can expect a snowstorm to hit at least once a year during the winter months. This year was no different, but on March 7 we were hit with a different type of snowstorm, The Snowstorm Music and Arts Festival. The cold temperatures were still there but instead of snow plows, we had a lineup of high energy and soulful artists, and instead of snow we had a sea of thousands of people dressed in white from head to toe.
Since Congress Theater closed down, the Chicago EDM scene has been limited to using two venues for shows that are not 21+, The Aragon Ballroom and Concord Music Hall. When Above and Beyond used Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom for their tour stop it seemed to have opened the doors of opportunity for this to become a regularly used venue. Just two weeks later, The Gathering Group (Snowstorm Fest Organizers) turned this iconic venue into something it’s never been before. With two levels of attractions, two stages, 11 artists, several bars and VIP “Igloos” (pictured on the left); Snowstorm Fest was something unseen before by Chicago.
The festival didn’t start off well since guests were not allowed in till a little after 6:30 PM (30 minutes late), causing a few artists to play to a small crowd or empty room. Figgy, who opened things up in the Chill Lounge on the second floor, played to a mostly empty room. Even when his set was over at 7 PM and ASTR started things up on the Main Stage, ASTR played for only a few dozen people. This was unfortunate as Figgy had a very soulful RnB infused set that would get people moving. ASTR’s front woman Zoe has a great voice, with great range, it’s a shame more people didn’t get a chance to see her and Adam perform.
A few hours in Snowstorm Fest came to life. As festival patrons filled both stage areas and the VIP balcony you can see things come together. People stood in line to take pictures in a photo booth, walked between both stages to check local and out of town artists. Performers from the Redmoon Theater showed up around the festival to give Confetti Gun Salutes, Pour Champagne from elaborate contraptions (pictured below) and to take pictures with festival attendees.
The Chill Lounge played as a host to local talent throughout most of the night. Win & Woo definitely turned it up a notch after Kody Madro finished up. Their set filled with original tracks and remixes which showcased their unique sound very well. Not to mention that it’s always refreshing to see artist enjoy themselves when they’re performing. If you haven’t checked them out yet you definitely should. The night continued with Louis the Child, who’s energy was infections and unmatched by anyone all night. These high-schoolers brought the ruckus and a nice following of fans.
Moby closed out the festival to an almost entirely packed main room. As expected, he brought some heavy hitting tunes as well as some classic hits. Seeing Moby several times over the last few years, I expected nothing less. He continues to be one of my favorites, as he never ceases to dominate each stage he performs on. To be honest I was very surprised he was named headliner of the first year festival, but I’m so glad he was.
Snowstorm Fest was not perfect from an organizational point of view, as to be expected by a first time event of this size. But with its great vision, perfectly selected artists, a very responsive crowd and room to grow in the venue it’s definitely something to look forward to next year. For the price ($25-$100) this festival was a steal, Moby alone could sell out the main room. Adding the open bar for VIP ticket holders was a great plus and a great value. That being said, Festival season in Chicago kicks off officially in March now, and that makes it easy to get through our harsh winters. Here’s to a bigger and better Snowstorm Fest in 2016. Hope to see all of you there!!