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Heatwave Music Festival // Chicago, IL // 6.10 – 6.11

Article and Photos by: Charles Yamabe

Chicago, IL — Heatwave Music Festival, held on June 10-11, 2023, provided an electrifying experience for music enthusiasts. Despite the contrast in weather, with a beautiful sunny day on Saturday and a cooler, rainy Sunday, the festival’s energy remained high throughout. The festival was buzzing with excitement, and there were plenty of highlights to talk about. One of the standout attractions was the giant inflatable duck that greeted festival-goers at the entrance. Its presence added a playful and whimsical touch to the event, becoming an iconic symbol of the festival. Some festival goers even carried signs that claimed “Big Duck Energy.”

The weather on Saturday was absolutely perfect, with clear skies and a gentle breeze. Taking place on Northerly Island with Lake Michigan on one side and the Chicago skyline on the other, it created an ideal backdrop for enjoying the music and exploring the festival grounds. Attendees were able to relax and soak up the positive vibes of the event as well as the warm sunshine .The art displays throughout the festival grounds were stunning. From vibrant murals to interactive installations, the visual artists showcased their talent and creativity. These art displays added another layer of immersive experience, creating a vibrant and visually appealing atmosphere.

The Saturday performances were nothing short of incredible. The marvelous lineup showcased a diverse range of talented artists. Loud Luxury, known for their infectious house beats and catchy vocal hooks, elevated the festival’s energy to new heights. Their set was a non-stop dance party, with the duo seamlessly mixing their chart-topping hits and delivering an unforgettable experience. The duo delivered a dynamic set that had the crowd dancing and singing along. The power that Loud Luxury gave off combined with the incredible lights and pyrotechnics created an exhilarating atmosphere, leaving everyone craving for more.

KX5, a new but not so new rising duo act (made up of Deadmau5 and Kaskade) brought a unique blend of melodic beats and ethereal soundscapes to Heatwave. Their set was a captivating journey through ambient textures and pulsating rhythms, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere that captivated the audience. The set blended Deadmau5’s progressive/electro house with Kaskades soothing progressive house which created an enlightening  surreal moment for the crowd.

NOTD, a dynamic duo known for their rousing pop-infused electronic music, delivered a high-octane performance. Their set had the duo bouncing all around the stage. It was a mixture of live instrument playing, singing, and DJing. Their set left the crowd with no doubt about why this duo is quickly rising to the top. Their set can only be describe as an energetic state of pure bliss.

SIDEPIECE, a collaboration between Party Favor and Nitti Gritti, brought their signature blend of bass-heavy house music to the festival. Their set was a relentless assault on the senses, with thunderous beats and ridiculous basslines that had the crowd going wild. When they dropped their astounding remix of ” A Milli” the entire crowd broke out into a raucous chorus.

 Saturday was co-headlined by none other than the uber energetic Griz. This set was extremely special as it is one of the last sets Griz will play for the foreseeable future. He took the stage and delivered a mind-blowing musical performance. His fusion of electronic, funk, and soul genres created an unforgettable sound that resonated with the audience. Griz’s set was a vibrant tapestry of groovy basslines, soulful saxophone solos, and electrifying drops. The crowd was immersed in a musical journey that left them craving for more.

Sunday brought some unexpected rain, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the hardcore festival-goers. They embraced the wet weather with enthusiasm, dancing and cheering in the mist. It was a testament to the resilient and happy nature of the festival attendees. The glow of LED gloves, poi, and hula hoops illuminated the crowd, creating a mesmerizing display of colors and patterns that enhanced the overall atmosphere of the event.
People dancing freely and energetically added their vibrant energy to the festival. Whether grooving to the beats in groups or showcasing their individual dance moves, their passion and enthusiasm were invigorating. Their fluid movements and infectious joy created an inclusive and empowering environment where everyone felt free to express themselves through dance.

Sundays lineup was just as incredible as Saturdays impressive roster. It included Tiesto, Gryffin, Malaa, and more. Malaa’s set at Heatwave Music Festival was a dark and captivating journey into the realm of house and bass music. From the very first beat, a mysterious aura enveloped the crowd, as the enigmatic artist commanded the stage with an air of intrigue. Seamlessly blending underground house beats, pulsating techno rhythms, and elements of future bass. Malaa kept the energy levels soaring, captivating the crowd who surrendered themselves to the hypnotic beats. His stage presence added to the mystique of the performance, while atmospheric lighting and mesmerizing visuals intensified the experience.

Gryffin’s set brought a melodic touch to the festival, combining his prowess as a DJ with his talent as a live instrumentalist. His fusion of dance beats and live guitar performances created an enchanting atmosphere that captivated the audience. Gryffin’s set was a feel-good experience, filled with uplifting melodies and infectious energy that had everyone swaying and grooving to the beat.

Tiesto was the main headliner of the weekend and of Sunday night. While Slander played the other stage and was impressive, Tiesto, is a legend in the electronic music scene. He took the stage with his signature style and unparalleled stage presence. His set was a masterclass in electronic dance music, seamlessly mixing new school hits and timeless classics. The crowd was swept away by euphoria as Tiesto guided them through a rollercoaster of emotions with his impeccable song selection and flawless transitions. The crowd for Tiesto was both young EDM kids and old school ravers. Even though there was a difference in age and musical styles the gap didn’t seem to matter. The entire crowd became one and combined to me a massive wave of energy.

Overall, Heatwave Music Festival provided an incredible experience for attendees. From the diverse lineup of talented artists, to the combination of thrilling performances, and vibrant atmosphere, the festival truly lived up to its name. Despite the weather variations, the festival-goers embraced the spirit of the event, creating unforgettable memories and celebrating the magic of music. Heatwave Music Festival, where the power of inclusivity and the joy of shared moments united everyone in a celebration of music and togetherness. It was a truly a festival that will be remembered for years to come.
Charles Yamabe
One day my love of music and passion for photography serendipitously collided. Since that day I have carried my camera around with me everywhere I go. You can find me on Instagram