By Francisco Rendon
Originally published in Pollstar on April 1, 2019
By Francisco Rendon
Originally published in Pollstar on April 1, 2019
SPRING AWAKENING MUSIC FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES HEADLINERS:
DJ SNAKE, GRIZ, ILLENIUM, MARTIN GARRIX, REZZ, AND ZEDD
2019 FESTIVAL TO BE HELD JUNE 7–9 IN HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL
GA AND VIP PASSES ON SALE NOW
CHICAGO, IL – March 11, 2019 – React Presents is thrilled to announce today the initial six exciting headliners and confirmed location for Spring Awakening Music Festival (SAMF) 2019. The Midwest’s largest all-electronic music festival will return to the Chicagoland area for its eighth year on June 7 through 9 at Poplar Creek at 59-90 Entertainment District in Hoffman Estates, a Northwest Chicago suburb.
Headlining SAMF 2019 is an all-star lineup including Grammy-nominated hit-maker DJ Snake; Grammy-award winning producer/DJ/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter, ZEDD; DJ Mag‘s three-time No. 1 Top 100 list DJ, Martin Garrix; Juno Award-winning Canadian DJ/producer, REZZ; funk/electro-soul/future-funk DJ/producer/sax master GRiZ; and melodic bass producer extraordinaire DJ ILLENIUM. Tickets for SAMF 2019 can be purchased at www.springawakeningfestival.com.
For 2019 in Poplar Creek, more than 90 artists will perform across five unique stages, demonstrating a dynamic variety of genres within the electronic music spectrum. Spring Awakening Music Festival will also feature stunning stage production, interactive art installations, carnival rides, and much more. More announcements on artists, stages and more will follow shortly.
The new 2019 location boasts 27 acres of land, nearly double that of last year’s site, which allows for bigger and better stages, more production, and additional experiential environments. Complimentary shuttles from nearby Metra stations to the festival grounds will be provided to fest-goers. Additionally, the grounds are less than ten minutes from multiple hotel options, and for the first time in SAMF history, the location will allow for festival parking on site.
React Presents’ co-general managers Patrick Grumley and Matt Rucins said, “We are excited to announce that SAMF ’19 has relocated to Poplar Creek, a perfect festival location with a rich musical history – adjacent to the Sears Centre Arena, and by the former site of the Poplar Creek Music Theater. This decision was made with our fans in mind, in order to deliver them the best Spring Awakening at a site that will offer a superior experience. Thank you for supporting us and we look forward to seeing you at Spring Awakening 2019!”
React Presents is a LiveStyle, Inc. company.
Founded in 2008, React Presents was born out of a passion for curating top-tier live music events that has helped propel Chicago to the forefront of the US music scene. Over the past decade, React has grown into one of the largest concert promoters in the Midwest, producing several major music festivals and over 600 concerts annually in Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Ann Arbor and more.
ABOUT LIVESTYLE, INC.
One of the world’s largest music event producers, LiveStyle boasts a wide variety of leading live music properties. LiveStyle produces and promotes single and multiday music festivals across North America, Europe, South America, Australia, and Asia. North American key operating entities include Made Event, React Presents, Disco Donnie Presents, and Life In Color, along with festivals and brands such as Electric Zoo, Spring Awakening, FriendShip, LIC Miami, BLNK CNVS, Mamby on the Beach, and AMFAMFAMF. In Europe, the company boasts key operating entities such as Monumental, B2S, ID&T, i-Motion, and Q-Dance, and festivals and brands including Decibel, Mysteryland, Awakenings, back2school, Air, Qlimax, Nature One, and Sensation. In Brazil, LiveStyle owns PlusNetwork, which has produced the enormously successful Tomorrowland Brasil festival and tours by internationally acclaimed DJs and artists. Together with the Belgian Tomorrowland organization, LiveStyle launched TomorrowWorld, the first international version of the Tomorrowland festival, and promoted the first South American Tomorrowland festival. LiveStyle continues to work with the Belgian Tomorrowland organization as its international partner to bring Tomorrowland to new territories outside Europe and to return to the USA and Brazil. LiveStyle also owns Beatport, the preeminent e-commerce platform for DJs, producers and dance music fans that helps launch the careers of the best underground artists and define global music culture.
For more information, visit www.livestyle.com
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For high-resolution SAMF photos, visit: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/sfxKkkn2yT
Scoop Marketing for LiveStyle, Inc.
Erik Stein, [email protected]
Originally published on MixMag on December 21, 2018
By Zach Schlein
Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico aboard a cruise liner, 2manyDJs, Busy P and Boys Noize step into an elevator with a DJ rig on wheels. It sounds like the setup to a late aughts joke, but it’s December 2018, and the quartet are about to wreak madness upon a private suite onboard the inaugural voyage of Friendship.
They’ve been summoned to the 12th floor with a “Dial-A-DJ” card, a coveted piece of laminated paper allowing its wielder to call selectors of their choosing at a moment’s notice. Boys Noize kicks things off and gets to work on the decks before the elevator door even opens. As he runs alongside the mobile DJ booth to mix en route to the room, he’s joined by a group of eager onlookers that continues to grow in size.
What happens next is nothing short of biblical: spinning before a packed room of two dozen — including electro virtuoso Danny Daze and Friendship mastermind Gary Richards himself — the vinyl veterans tap into a well of sonic chaos that would floor even the most hardened of ravers. The iconic sounds of Cassius’ ‘I Love You So’ and Daft Punk’s ‘Superheroes’ blast between flashing lights and screams of disbelief as elbows are tossed and inflatable genitals bounce around the room. The party is re-situated outside the elevators once things grow too hot for the room, at which point Busy P begins tossing Ed Banger merchandise into the ravenous crowd. Not long after Boys Noize mixes bloghouse classics ‘A Bit Patchy’and ‘We Are Your Friends’, Richards gets behind yet another set of turntables right around the corner and attracts yet more onlookers to the scene.
“Busy P what the fuck?!” indeed.
These sorts of once-in-a-lifetime moments were found all across Friendship, even if they didn’t always reach the same manic heights. As the first Richards-curated cruise since the HARD and Holy Ship founder left his own brands to join LiveStylein 2017, questions swirled around Friendship up to the moment the Celebrity Equinox set sail from PortMiami: as a brand new venture, could it live up to the standards established by eleven preceding Holy Ships? Would the schism between devotees of the Holy Ship brand and the Gary Richards faithful prove insurmountable?
As it turns out, 3,000 shippers can’t be wrong. Seasoned Ship Fam and newcomers alike tell Mixmag Friendship was among the best musical gatherings they’d ever participated in, at sea or otherwise.
“I think a lot of people were a bit hesitant about whether or not we should change to something new,” says Andrew, who attended Holy Ship four times before opting for Richards’ new venture. The Seattle resident says he and his Friendship crew of almost 30 wrestled heavily with the choice of sticking with the familiar or leaping into the unknown.
“Holy Ship was something we knew well: we knew the lineup was going be great, we knew that the staff and all the organization would be phenomenal… But at the end of the day, we realized that Gary started it all originally. And with him starting up Friendship, we also saw this as a new opportunity to show our support for him as well,” he says before calling Friendship “the most phenomenal ship by far.”
“We have no regrets at all; of all five that I’ve been on this is definitely the best, mainly because of the people involved here,” he continues.
Although the lineup — sporting legends such as Giorgio Moroder and Josh Wink as well as Golf Clap and former Trash resident Rory Phillips among others — was alluring unto itself, the Friendship revelers Mixmag spoke with repeatedly emphasized it was the people who ultimately made the party. Michael Robrock, a San Diego denizen with three Holy Ships under his belt, says it’s the people that’ve kept him continually setting out to sea.
“The one thing I love about it the most is the small, intimate crowd,” Robrock says. “At a big festival you meet somebody and maybe you’ll run into them again, whereas here you just keep running into everyone and it’s like ‘Oh, it’s you!’”
The camaraderie on display helped ease the few growing pains Friendship endured. Unfortunately, neither Jackmaster nor Peggy Gou were anywhere to be heard despite being present on the printed schedules and topping several partygoers’ must-see set lists. However, complications seemingly more egregious than MIA artists wound up proving negligible or even boons in disguise; a return trip to Miami due to a medical emergency didn’t stop Âme or Dixon from mixing on a private Bahamian island as scheduled, and when the main stage had yet to be finished on the first night, Madam X made several welcomed return appearances for fiery b2bs with J. Phlip and Nina Las Vegas, and 2manyDJs simply swapped venues to play an extended set for a supremely sweaty audience.
Winston Chiang, a 26 year-old Brooklynite well-acquainted with the likes of New York’s festival circuit and Dirtybird Campout, tells Mixmag Friendship marks his first time stepping aboard a cruise.
“I missed the Holy Ship ship [era],” he confesses. Chiang was brought on Friendship by his brother, an experienced Holy Shipper. “He had been to five or six [Holy Ships] and was like ‘Yo, they’re restarting – you want to be a virgin? You might as well join when everyone else is too.”
With his ship cherry now popped, Chiang says he’s in it for the long haul.
“It’s so evident that everyone here legitimately loves and respects the music, each other and themselves,” he says. “That combination of things is just incredible to see out on display so openly.”
It’s early Saturday morning, and as most don their best sequin and theatrical moustaches for guest of honor Giorgio Moroder’s set, a rowdy crew huddles in the cafeteria to try to make sense of the Boys Noize b2b Busy P b2b 2manyDJs set and the absurdity it conjured.
“Every single person on this boat has walked up to me and said it’s been their best ship they’ve ever been on,” Gary Richards tells Mixmag. The Friendship figurehead says it’s the closest he’s come to manifesting the ideal dance music cruise thus far.
“We put our full detail and attention into trying to make it better and also different [from Holy Ship],” he explains, citing the consideration paid to the tiniest of features, including an instrumental Pink Floyd megamix Richards assembled to be played over the ship’s speakers. “My goal is to make this different. I didn’t want it to be just a repeat of the same with a different name. It truly is my friends and all the friends of the people that have come.
“We’ve had the best weather, we hit the private island twice, 2manyDJs are here, what could be better?”
Looking to Friendshippers themselves, not much. The shared sense something special was underway was palpable from the first night, aided by performances that set a pattern of leaving mouths agape and minds shattered. Equally brimming with bodies and excitement, Rüfüs Du Sol’s live show in the ship’s theatre underscored the exceptional circumstances at hand; in a space nominally reserved for mild, polite entertainment, hundreds of people stood captive as one of the world’s most-followed electronic bands played for as small a crowd in as tight a space as you’re likely to ever find them. The three members that make up Rüfüs have smiles cracked wide across their faces, and are glowing – not from the stage spotlights – but from the love roaring back at them and bouncing around each and every costumed character in the theatre. Suddenly it’s not such a distant idea that Friendship was the only name this journey could have ever gone by.
Photos courtesy of Jake Pierce and Friendship
Zach Schlein is a freelance writer based in Miami. Find more of his work here
Originally published in Pollstar on December 21, 2018
By Francisco Rendon
By Taylor Mims
Originally published in Billboard on September 6, 2018
New York City’s Electric Zoo music festival hosted more than 100,000 attendees over Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 2) for its 10th anniversary. Held at Randall’s Island Park in New York City, Made Event’s top EDM festival sold out on Saturday (Sept. 1) and Sunday (Sept. 2) with headliners including Kaskade, Martin Garrix and Tiësto.
Electric Zoo The Big 10 attendees saw star-studded sets from over 120 acts including Marshmello, Rezz and Alesso. As well, the festival’s 10th edition featured technically enhanced main stage production with an over 160’ wide by 30’ tall curved screen, allowing Martin Garrix and Porter Robinson’s Virtual Self the opportunity to bring their major festival shows to New York City for the first time.
“Watching Electric Zoo come back strong to become, once again, a staple of the New York City electronic music scene, reminds me of Coachella when it turned the corner in 2009,” said Randy Phillips, CEO of LiveStyle, parent company of MADE Events, the producer of Electric Zoo in a statement. “Wading through the crowd on Randall’s Island, the vibe was as off-the-chart as the music our artists delivered.”
In addition to massive headliners, Electric Zoo brought curated stages throughout the weekend. On Friday, the Sunday School Grove stage featured a partnership with Anna Lunoe‘s Beats 1 Radio show Hyperhouse and AC Slater’s Night Bass. Saturday night Zeds Dead’s Deadbeats took over the Hilltop Arena for the day with sets from TroyBoi, Mija and more. L.A.’s party series Brownies & Lemonade took over the Hilltop Area on Sunday with bass-heavy sets from Gryffin, Ekali and Cray.
On the heels of the Big 10’s success, organizers Made Event and LiveStyle have announced that the EDM festival will return to New York City for Labor Day 2019.
Originally published in Imprint on September 6, 2018
By Kat Bein
Originally published on July 16, 2018 in Billboard
The countdown begins to the first-ever Friendship Festival cruise. Gary Richards, aka Destructo, embarks on a new kind of entertainment, and as promised, he’s bringing all his best DJ pals. It’s a big moment for the Holy Ship! founder as he proves to fans and artists alike that he can bring that magic to a new endeavor as part of his new role as president of event conglomerate LiveStyle.
The headliners are stacked with a big bill from Australian trio RÜFÜS DU SOL, a band primed to have its best year ever when it’s forthcoming album SOLACE drops. German acid-techno god Boys Noize will drop experimental bass bombs, as will his fellow countryman Dixon serve the cutting edge in underground house and techno. The lineup also includes 2mnydjs, Peggy Gou, Claptone, Jackmaster, and many more.
Fans who sailed on the first Holy Ship! will be pleased to see a repeat inaugural performance from living burlesque legend Dita Von Teese, and everyone will throw their hands up in approval for a performance from disco icon, electronic music granddaddy and Friendship the guest of honor Giorgio Moroder.
The first-ever Friendship Festival sets sail Tuesday to Saturday, Dec. 11-15. It leaves the Port of Miami and heads to Coco Cay in the Bahamas for four nights of music, debauchery and togetherness. Cabins are sold out, but if you want to win a chance to go with three of your friends, you can enter the Friendship giveaway online. Check the full lineup for Friendship’s maiden voyage and hear a Spotify playlist highlighting the lineup’s artists curated by Destructo below.
By Kat Bein
Originally published in Billboard on May 22, 2018
“In Gary Richards We Trust.” That’s what the kids who loved his work at HARD and Holy Ship! were always saying. It was their rallying cry, and when Richards, aka Destructo, announced he was standing down from the company he founded, they were shocked. He joined the team at LiveStyle, and he’s already announced two new festivals in the style fans have come to know and love. There’s the new seabound festival Friendship, and his new downtown Los Angeles summer fest All My Friends.
Headliners for All My Friends were announced in April, including RL Grime, Gucci Mane, Jhene Aiko, M.I.A., Jamie xx, and Armand Van Helden. Today, the full lineup is announced, with dance and hip-hop performances from Anna Lunoe, Yo Gotti, Justin Martin, Barclay Crenshaw, Chris Lake, Moon Boots and many more.
All My Friends comes to ROW in downtown LA Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 18 and 19; performers will be spread across three stages. Tickets are on sale now and everyone 18 and older is welcome to the party.
Check the full lineup and an announcement teaser video below, plus a Spotify playlist of the artists on the lineup.
By Deborah Speer
Originally Published in Pollstar on May 3, 2018
React Presents, a company of LiveStyle, is partnering with independent promoter Jam Productions of Chicago to bring events and electronic, hip hop and R&B artists into venues booked by Jam including the Riviera Theatre, The Vic, and Park West.
Jam Productions, headed up by longtime promoters Jerry Mickelson and Arny Granat, has been a force in the Midwest for more than 40 years, exclusively books the three clubs as well as the Palace Theater in St. Paul, Minn., and the California Mid-State Fair in California.
In addition to bringing events to Jam’s Chicago-area venues, React will continue to develop artists with other new venue partners including Sound-Bar, Studio Paris, Bottom Lounge, Chop Shop and Sleeping Village.
What the partnership means, according to a source with knowledge of the deal, is that React and Jam will co-promote dance, hip hop and R&B shows in the venues long promoted by Jam, bringing new events into the established venues that are among the premier rooms of their size in the region. Jam will continue to promote the shows it always has.
The clubs are an integral part of Jam’s portfolio and Chicago’s live music scene. The Vic, with a 1,300 capacity, averages 1,271 tickets per event and $34,936 gross sales. Recent shows have included They Might Be Giants, OMD, and “Celebrating David Bowie.” Its upcoming calendar includes Breeders, Flatbush Zombies, Andrew W.K., and Broken Social Scene.
Park West, with 1,000 capacity, averages 688 tickets and $17,403 gross per show, including recent events with Rag N’ Bone Man, the Posies, and the Melvins. Upcoming shows feature JGB featuring Melvin Seals, Ani DiFranco and an Infamous Stringdusters/Leftover Salmon co-bill.
The jewel in the crown is The Rivera, which holds more than 2,500, averages 2,431 tickets per show and a gross of $72,284. Its calendar includes upcoming concerts with Jimmy Eat World, Alice In Chains and My Bloody Valentine, and recently dates include with Glen Hansard, Miguel and Robert Plant & The Sensational Shapeshifters.
React was founded in 2008, and grew to become one of the largest promoters in the Midwest, particularly in the festival space with events including Spring Awakening and Mamby On The Beach, among others. All told, React promotes about 600 concerts annually in the Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit markets.
After LiveStyle CEO Randy Phillips brought in Hard Events founder Gary Richards as president of the company, the company elevated React Presents’ talent buyer Matt Rucins and marketing director Patrick Grumley as co-managers of React. They, in turn, work with React operations director Amy Butterer and LiveStyle venue operations director Ned Collett to “prepare the company for creative and strategic growth in the years ahead,” according to a statement.
Jam Productions owner Jerry Mickelson wasn’t immediately available for comment.
By August Brown
Originally published in LA Times on April 19, 2018
For Gary Richards, the former mastermind of the decade-old Hard Summer music festival, his All My Friends concert is a bit of a homecoming.
“I always wanted to be back in downtown,” he said, of the new event slated to take place in the late summer in the booming Arts District. Compared to past Hard Summer fests, which once parked itself at Los Angeles State Historic Park near Chinatown and has more recently been in Pomona and Fontana, All My Friends is pretty much right back where he started.
“This is a city festival, it feels urban. It’s set up for three stages so when you look at all the buildings, it makes for a cool cityscape feel,” he said.
After parting ways with mega-promoter Live Nation last year, All My Friends is his first L.A. concert under the aegis of new promoter LiveStyle (his first return was an All My Friends-themed music cruise).
It’s a chance to start anew after building one of the most formidable and pacesetting brands in electronic music, only to see it thrust into controversy in its later years.
All My Friends will debut at the Row, the leafy and upscale mixed-use office and entertainment complex on the southern end of the Arts District, on Aug. 18-19. It’s a much more modest venture than what Hard Summer had turned into by the end of its run: 15,000 to 20,000 people are expected over the weekend, compared with the 150,000 Hard Summer reached at its peak.
“There’s a lot less pressure and I can be more creative,” he said. “I went to Coachella last weekend and it’s insane how many people there are now. I didn’t want to make this too big and just be a sea of people.”
The lineup is also notably more sophisticated than Richards’ EDM-heavy incarnations before. He’s always had eclectic taste and the generational loyalty of his fans, along with an especially prescient ear for how hip-hop intersects with dance music.
But with a bill led by R&B singer Jhené Aiko, rapper Gucci Mane, club-music royalty Jamie XX and a return visit from electro-rap provocateur M.I.A. (an early Hard Summer performer), All My Friends is aimed less as a teenage rite of raver passage than the next step in Hard Summer fans’ tastes.
“I had to try to figure out a new formula for the music. We’ve rinsed out a lot of the EDM and made it more into live music — 27-35, that’s our audience,” Richards said. “We want to skew to more mature tastes, people who have graduated from David Guetta.”
Starting anew did “feel like stepping into the unknown,” Richards said, but it’s also possibly a relief. Hard Summer, which is still a Live Nation property and will return to the Glen Helen Amphitheater in August, wrapped up largely without incident last year. But prior years had attracted intense scrutiny from public officials, after several young fans who attended the festival died from drug-related causes.
Richards’ departure from Live Nation came as he took a position as president of LiveStyle North America, a new firm founded in the ashes of former rave-promotion behemoth SFX, which declared bankruptcy in 2016 after a string of misfires in the dance-festival circuit.
Richards was able to hire his own new team and reimagine his marquee summer event outside the expectations of Live Nation (and competition from his old L.A. rave rival, Insomniac’s Pasquale Rotella, also under Live Nation). “I’m the president of the company, not just the head of a division,” Richards said. “There’s more people on the same mission.”
For now, he has no goals of scaling up to Hard Summer heights, though he admits to a little bit of melancholy at seeing it go on without him. “It is what it is. I’ve always been able to adapt and create something new,” he said. And after many years of roving, he believes he’s found a flexible long-term site in the Row.
“It feels amazing, thank God I’ve still got these fans,” he said. “I want to over-deliver for them, but also stretch them a bit with the music. It’s definitely time for a change.”