During Labor Day weekend, I had the pleasure of attending ARC Music Festival 2023 in Chicago for the first time on behalf of The Festival Voice. Though Arc is traditionally a house music festival – a fitting theme considering Chicago is the birthplace of modern house music – we attendees were blessed with some techno acts as well. Not to mention the beautiful weather in the windy city.
Friday had a stacked lineup, and I truly mean that. Acts such as Adam Beyer, Walker & Royce, Boris Brejcha, and cannot forget the face melting Holo set by Eric Prydz are just a few key highlights of my day. My group spent a little while getting acquainted with the 4 stages and the locations of the restrooms, water refill stations, and food vendors. There was at least one extremely impressive art installation or sculpture at each stage, which we were able to utilize as meeting spots in case anybody got lost or lost phone service – which was a bit of an issue considering the number of people packed into this medium-sized city park.
Saturday I think my favorite set of the day had to be Patrick Topping. He was new on my roster but did not disappoint. He threw down a magical combination of tech-house, hard house, and electro jams. My friends and I used one of the many beautiful sculptures as a meeting zone and bopped around an incredible discoball-like structure depicting the holding of hands. Honorable mentions of course to Lee Foss B2B Gene Farris, Dennis Cruz, and John Summit, who were easily next in line for my favorite sets. Honestly, it’s hard to even decide because these DJs just went so hard and I was impressed by their ability to curate an experience for their crowd. High kudos to their production crews, too – the visuals during Patrick Topping were insane, and being posted up at the mainstage, ‘The Grid’, they had a lot of real estate to work with – and they used every inch of it.
Sunday was hot hot hot, but luckily there was plenty of shade to escape from the sun. Sometimes we got lucky enough to be under the shade AND right next to the music – an ideal situation. Again, amazing performances all day long. Black Coffee, Henry Brooks B2B Lowki (shoutout to Detroit!), and Kyle Walker left me feeling refreshed and renewed, which is saying something for the third day of a festival. Peggy Gou was a new artist I had never seen before, and she absolutely killed it. I could not believe that was my first time seeing Peggy play live, but it will not be the last. And, let’s give a huge shout-out to Vintage Culture who defeated the odds and still made it to Chicago despite being stranded at Burning Man the day before. That is major dedication, and I don’t know how he had in it him to still give us such a high energy set that day.
Overall, I would rate Arc high on my list of must-go festivals. The stages were well-curated and well-built, the crowd was vibing nonstop and friendly, perfect weather, and of course, top-tier talent. Food options were good, too, and the restroom and water refill station lines were never an issue. Can’t forget the afterparties, which were in high demand. I got lucky enough to score an after-party ticket for Sara Landry, WHILE we were leaving the festival Sunday. If that’s not meant to be, then I don’t know what is. Per usual, my girl Sara Landry threw down some heavy techno, and dare I say her after party set was even better than her festival set.. if that’s even possible. If I had one critique, it would be the sound bleeding between stages, but as long as you found yourself a good spot in the crowd, that was barely an issue. Find yourself a great group of friends to rage with, or go solo-dolo and bop around by yourself. Either way, I will absolutely be attending ARC Music Festival in Chicago in 2024.