Danny Tenaglia, DJ Tennis and Guy Gerber shine on Day 1 of Wavefront Music Festival
With the rest of the country still nursing Independence Day hangovers, dance fans from all corners of the country flocked to Chicago’s Montrose Beach for the second year of Wavefront Music Festival. There are more stages, there’s a giant inflatable water slide and ferris wheel, and although there isn’t quite any direct access to the water from the festival, exploring the sights and sounds of a beach-front festival is an experience unlike many others right now in the crowded US festival market. The weather cooperated (holding at a very pleasant 80 degrees with a breeze and sun), and the crowds were thinner than what we’re expecting in the second two days. Click past the break for our highlights from day one of the festival.
Pleasurekraft got things bumping on the beach with an upbeat tech house set that ushered in an eclectic lineup of artists on the Wave stage. While dancers in flower costumes and iridescent yellow underwear gyrated onstage, the DC-based act kept festival-goers moving with their relentlessly catchy remix of “Shut Up and Dance” by Eric Sneo and Chris The Voice before closing with a “Get Lucky” edit that sent ripples of cheers through the crowd.
In a highly anticipated evening set at the Cube stage, Maya Jane Coles adopted a more bouncy sound than usual that seemed well-suited for the beach vibes in attendance. She teased Tom Flynn’s new “In My Hut” and chose a crowd pleaser (her lead single “Everything” off her debut LP Comfort). Maya’s DJ sets may not be what some expect, she plays very few of her own productions, but they’re always interesting peeks into a young star’s record collection.
Following Maya’s feel-good performance, Guy Gerber reset the vibe entirely in expert fashion, slowing the pace with an atmospheric deep house touch. The Tel Aviv native and Pacha Ibiza resident is no stranger to beachside sets, and his experience was immediately evident. His sound took a distinctively percussive turn and featured an abundance of toms and bongos that rightfully recalled the White Isle sound, as well as varied instrumental elements such as the prominent xylophones on Capricorn’s “20 Hz.”
The Oasis stage was alight with energy as DJ Tennis’s set time approached. As the Life and Death label boss took the reins, he cleansed the crowd’s palate with a basic throbbing beat whose hypnotic stuttered kicks compounded the expectancy in the air. The Italian artist weaved a web of spaced out vocals and intricate melodies above tightly coiled percussion, displaying preternatural patience as he excised the beat in interludes for minutes on end to allow for such atmospheric gems as Tale of Us’ remix of Mano Le Tough’s “Primative People” to play out. His sound was brooding beyond belief, carried by foreboding phased chords that flitted over a bass heavy backdrop punctuated by recurrent minimal breakdowns. In delivering a consensus event of the evening, DJ Tennis’s musical mastery opened eyes and ears aplenty. Plenty of chatter could be heard from enthralled attendees who could not resist the remarkable music being played, despite many having no idea who they were hearing.
Danny Tenaglia closed out the festival’s first day in fitting fashion on the Cube stage, whose massive LED panels and sprawling laser production was employed in full force for the New York legend. He was given a full two hours to work with (unheard of for a festival set), and even though this was minuscule in DT terms, his powerhouse tribal house style was an appropriate antidote to some disappointing technical difficulties plaguing DFA labelhead James Murphy’s closing set.
Matt Medved and Cara Daley contributed to this article.