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'Super Loud' Spring Awakening Draws Mixed Reaction From Neighbors

By Stephanie Lulay | June 17, 2016 6:10am
 Thumping electronic dance music festival Spring Awakening received a mixed reaction from its new neighbors on the Near West Side. 
Thumping electronic dance music festival Spring Awakening received a mixed reaction from its new neighbors on the Near West Side. 
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Facebook/Spring Awakening

UNIVERSITY VILLAGE — Thumping electronic dance music festival Spring Awakening received a mixed reaction from its new neighbors on the Near West Side. 

The three-day Spring Awakening Music Festival, which featured a full lineup of EDM acts, was hosted at Addams/Medill Park for the first time last weekend. The annual fest was moved to the University Village park after it was bounced from two locations earlier this year.

For Gina Joslin, who lives a mile from the fest near South Racine Avenue and West Harrison Street, the noisy fest prompted her to call police at 9:30 p.m. Friday.  

"It was super loud — definitely louder than I expected," Joslin said. "I could feel the vibrations in my daughter's room."

While Joslin was appreciative that the fest ended promptly at 10 p.m., she said she wished promoters were more mindful that they were staging a fest in a neighborhood "where real people live their lives everyday." 

"I would just say, 'Turn it down,'" Joslin said. "If I knew the music, I could have made out the words." 

Nancy Plax, director of community outreach at Connecting 4 Communities, a neighborhood group, said the bass from the fest's five stages "was vibrating, going all of the time."

"So many [in the neighborhood] have little kids," Plax said. "It was pretty bad, but thank God it was until only until 10 p.m. and they ended it on time." 

For David Schulz, whose University Station condo is a half-block from the park, the fest was loud, but not "all that bad."

"From my perspective, it was loud, but I don't think that surprised anyone," said Schulz, who serves as president of the University Station Condominium Association. "I definitely heard the bass, and some of the music, but all in all, it wasn't actually that bad. Sometimes you felt like you were in the middle of a club." 

The building, which houses 230 condominiums, did hire a security guard to watch the building for the weekend, at residents' own cost, he said. 

"Next year, I would love for [the Park District or promoters] to meet with us before. There was no communication in any way, shape or form that this was going to happen," he said. 

Cory Tanzer, a real estate agent who serves as vice president of the University Commons Board, said he was pleasantly surprised that the fest went "really, really well" after hearing horror stories from his South Loop friends who previously bordered the fest at Soldier Field. Patrons were respectful leaving the park and the fest ended promptly at 10 p.m. each night, he said. 

"I would be totally fine with having them back," Tanzer said. "It brought a lot of people to the neighborhood's restaurants and bars, which we never experience." 

Dennis O'Neill, executive director of Connecting 4 Communities, agreed. O'Neill lives a block north of Taylor Street. 

"It was a little bit loud, but whatever," he said. "This is life in the city — these things are healthy and good for the city. We had a lot of people coming through the neighborhood with no problems." 

Annie Davis, president of the nearby ABLA Homes local advisory council, could not be reached for comment. 

Spring Awakening promoters did not respond to questions. 

Few formal complaints

Ald. Jason Ervin, (28th), whose ward includes Addams/Medill Park, said he received two complaints after the music fest. One neighbor complained that the festival was too loud and another complained about scarce parking in the neighborhood, said Tim Nazanin, an Ervin spokesman. 

"The alderman will be speaking with the park district, police and the community on whether any violations in the agreement occurred or if the noise caused any public disturbance," Nazanin said in a statement.

The Park District did not receive any complaints about noise at the fest, spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said. The fest's permit required that amplified sound from the fest be directed away from residents and comply with the city's noise ordinance, she said. 

Chicago Police did not receive any complaints related to noise at the event, and Near West Cmdr. Edward Kulbida did not receive any negative comments from neighbors, said Officer Nicole Trainor, a police spokeswoman. 

"The commander worked with the event planners to ensure community members were hired for maintenance and set-up jobs," Trainor said. 

About 33 people were arrested during Spring Awakening, according to police. The majority of arrests were for criminal trespassing. 

About 55 people were transported to the hospital during the three-day music fest, according to Melissa Stratton, spokeswoman for the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications. 

Will fest return? 

The Park District does not yet know if Spring Awakening will return to Addams/Medill Park or be staged at another site next year, Maxey-Faulkner said. 

Founded as a concert series in 2008, Spring Awakening promoters decided to launch a two-day outdoor music festival at Soldier Field in 2012, where it was hosted through 2015. But a scheduling conflict with the Copa America soccer tournament booted the fest from Soldier Field this year, and Spring Awakening was forced to find a new home.

Festival organizers first announced Spring Awakening 2016 would take place at Jackson Park in Woodlawn. Citing another scheduling conflict, organizers later announced in April that the fest wouldn't take place at the South Side park and would instead move to Addams/Medill Park. 

Addams/Medill Park will host two other fests this summer — the second annual Ruido Fest, Riot Fest's Latin alternative music festival in July, and the first-ever Reggae Fest Chicago in August.

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