Written by Nate Manuel
Photo credit: HTA Photo
Freaky Deaky Midwest Takeover is a great place to see live music during Halloween weekend. React Presents dropped the single venue spooky carnival vibes, and opted for more music over multiple locations- Chicago, Milwaukee, and Michigan (Grand Rapids/Ann Arbor). Because it’s now indoor season in the midwest, this spread out schedule allows better capacity at each show. It also lets people choose who they want to see ahead of time, instead of buying the whole lineup but ultimately making decisions when the schedule comes out.
I chose to attend the largest lineup, Milwaukee. Here’s a quick rundown of the weekend: Everyone killed it. It seems the theme of the weekend was “Go really hard your entire set”, and that’s what everyone did- onstage and in the crowd. The stage setup was wide enough to allow a changeover of less than a minute between opening acts, and with only a 15 minute break before the headliner each night it made for a non-stop weekend. The venue was a huge, wide open room that allowed for easy movement to and from food and drink vendors, merch vendors, the free water refill station, and restrooms. There were plenty of costumes, despite the extensive costume guideline and prohibited items lists. People seemed more excited to be at a show, than for it to be Halloween. As could be expected, it was much more crowded on Bassnectar night (Saturday).
FRIDAY – WISCONSIN CENTER
Boogie T is a goofy dude, who also knows how put together a wobbly dub set and serenade us with guitar at the same time! Plays lots of vocal samples, not distracting but just enough to make you wonder how much internet this person watches.
Flatbush Zombies like to see a mosh pit, and will try to start one or two if they can… by backflipping into the crowd! Really high energy rappers with an aggressive tone and in your face attitude. Diehard fans helped hype up the crowd for this one.
Griz put out one of the hardest hitting sets I have seen from him. I heard many familiar Griz songs, but every track was flipped mid-way through into a grimey, thick electronic ruckus- while still managing to keep his saxophone playing front and center. Near the end he brought out Boogie T, to demo a riddim-sounding unreleased track.
SATURDAY – WISCONSIN CENTER
Mija played a really intense set, sometimes stepping into territory the crowd found a bit uncomfortable. Anime sounding happy-hardcore, mixed with drum and bass, tilting towards the heavier end. Anytime a DJ starts the set with an Underworld cut, I’m in.
Ganja White Night was a crowd favorite for the weekend. The set was wall to wall dubstep, yet it kept sounding fresh and interesting with every new song. Both them and Boogie T played their collaborative track “Flava” near the end of their respective sets. It was interesting to hear each artist’s take on it, and it made clear which part came from which artist. (Hint: the wobbles are from GWN!)
Bassnectar came out the heaviest of all, opening with a Sepultura track and only getting trappier and heavier from there. Beyond a few unreleased tracks there were hardly any songs of his own played, but his mixing and showmanship are untouchable. He did play a track of his, Hexes, which he has never before played live despite it coming out in 2012. Bassnectar apparently curated the Freaky Deaky Milwaukee lineup, according to this message he sent to a fan:
The 3 city approach seems to work well for Freaky Deaky, with Milwaukee event providing a hard-hitting soundtrack for Halloween weekend. We’ll see who they bring to each city next Halloween!