Written by Fatima Hasan
Photography by Joseph Sherman
React Presents has been hosting Freaky Deaky since 2008, so concert-goers were already anxious to see what this year would offer even before the lineup dropped. In a surprise turn of events, Freaky Deaky 2017 was split into a Midwest Halloween takeover rather than a single festival held at Toyota Park near Chicago. Even through the change of pace, event organizers still booked solid talent at each of the events that spanned across Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In Chicago, we had the opportunity to attend Drezo, Klingande, and Oliver Heldens on Night 1, along with Parker, What So Not, and Dillon Francis on Night 2 at the Aragon Ballroom.
After Drezo warmed up the crowd with his underground house music on Night 1, Klingande, the so-called Champion of the Melodic House genre, threw down a lively set. It incorporated more bass/deep house than anything else, most likely in an effort to get the crowd primed for Heldens. Additionally, there was a saxophonist and violinist on stage with Klingande, which added even more energy and made the performance very enthralling.
Oliver Heldens finally took stage and he put on a remarkable performance. Many attendees felt like he exceeded their expectations as he kept mixing into a wide variety of energetic bangers. I remember seeing him a few years ago at Freaky Deaky 2015 and thought he was one of the best sets that weekend (he had some tough competition too, considering that year’s lineup was ridiculously good). Overall, his set was deep and hella groovy, you could tell everybody was having a great time vibing to the music. Even better, the size of the crowd was perfect.
On Night 2, What So Not incorporated all of his hits into his set while also including a few of his songs with Flume. Although it was a respectable set, I’ve seen What So Not many times before and I could tell he was holding back, most likely to ensure that Dillon stole the show that night. His sets are usually much higher in energy than what he was putting forth, but regardless, I still enjoyed it. Dillon’s track list was pretty conventional but his set featured some hilarious visuals that were so unique. If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that Dillon Francis is a great performer and a really funny dude. He uploaded a Freaky Deaky recap video to his Instagram account recently that not only shows how much energy the crowd had that night, but also really helps bring to light the sheer beauty of the Aragon Ballroom’s interior. Along with the gorgeous interior of the classic Chicago ballroom, the shows were supplemented with extravagant light and visual production.
All in all, the events that we were able to cover over the weekend in Chicago and Milwaukee facilitated some incredible experiences. The crowds in both cities were solid and many attendees were sporting some very creative and unique Halloween attire! Through this massive Midwest Halloween take-over, React Presents proved their capabilities of handling huge, simultaneous, multi-night shows in three different states. That in itself is very impressive. Hopefully the event will continue to flourish and will have even more in store for us next year!