Wavefront Organizers Say Festival Will Return, Officials Say Not Just Yet
UPTOWN — Organizers of the Wavefront Music Festival said the popular beach bash will return to Uptown this summer after complaints about noise and traffic last year spurred backlash from lakefront dwellers and local aldermen that threatened Wavefront 2014.
Diplo, Fatboy Slim and Rusko were some of the electronic dance music DJs spinning at last year's fest, which spanned July 5-7, had four main stages and about 100 acts. Wavefront 2013 was a three-day behemoth compared to its inaugural year in 2012 when the fest was a two-day affair from June 30-July 1 that included two main stages and 66 acts.
With the heftier festival, held during the busy Independence Day weekend, came complaints from a large lakefront condo owners association and a lakefront park advisory group.
Brandon Carone, principal at 4 Headed Productions, which is behind Wavefront, wrote in a text message to DNAinfo Chicago on Sunday that Wavefront 2014 is a go.
"We have made the proper adjustments with sound, traffic control and management," the message said. "I cannot disclose much more right now other than tell you we corrected problems from [year one] to [year two], as we did for [year 3]."
But according to the office of Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) there are "still a lot of open issues" that have to be resolved.
Osterman's chief of staff, Dan Luna, said his boss hasn't seen a revised festival plan or a sound test and doesn't fully support the festival yet. Organizers said last July they were willing to "downsize the festival by about half," and were supposed to present Osterman and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) with solutions earlier this year, but they have not, Luna said.
While the event happened in the 46th Ward in Uptown, most criticism has come from Edgewater, in the 48th Ward.
Sheli Lulkin, president of the Association of Sheridan Condo/Co-op Owners, and other lakefront residents described "terrible vibrations" and loud sounds felt and heard inside their buildings from as far as Edgewater and Rogers Park.
Uptown residents also complained of festivalgoers hopping out of cabs on a packed and stagnant Lake Shore Drive and bounding across the road to get to the festival — a serious safety hazard.
Tressa Feher, Cappleman's chief of staff, has said her boss' approval hinges on the approval of the Lincoln Park Advisory Council, which oversees much of the lakefront in Uptown.
Advisory council president Ellen Isaacson wrote in an email Sunday that she was still "waiting for [organizers] to put a sound test together."
But "as far as traffic issues are concerned, it seems as though the organizers are much better prepared to manage this issue," Isaacson added, noting that 4 Headed has been working with the city since October to iron out traffic issues.
"Even if we think they have straightened out all their issues from the past year, I think the aldermen will have more of a say in this than we do," Isaacson said.
No sound tests were conducted before the 2013 festival.
Organizers said the festival, at its loudest, topped out at about 105 decibels. That’s as loud as a rock concert, according to the American Tinnitus Association. But neighbors north of the fest said that most music from the event was inaudible — it was the pounding bass vibrations that bothered them.
For months, Wavefront fans have been asking festival organizers on social media if the festival is kaput or not. By this time last year, Wavefront was selling tickets to the Montrose Beach event.
John Lato, a 25-year-old Irving Park resident who attended Wavefront 2013 said that the event's location allows folks to "forget they're in Chicago," and imagine that they're partying on a beach somewhere in Miami.
He said he'd go again if "They're still going forward with it."
"I don't have the date yet or anything, but I will be there regardless."
Norwood Park resident Angela Rinaldi attended Wavefront last year with about 20 friends who piled on a "party bus" and headed to the event. Rinaldi, a 32-year-old personal trainer, said she and her friends were unhappy when they heard that Wavefront might not happen this year.
They thought "it was the best festival by far in Chicago. It's on the beach, and the location is perfect," she said.
"People couldn't deal with it for three days out of the year?" she said of the noise concerns. "I just thought it was so lame that neighbors could really complain about that."
Rinaldi said she doesn't care if Wavefront 2014 is scaled down some or even cut in half, "just as long as it has good DJs."
"I really hope they can work something out," she said.
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