Lunar Tide, Chicagoland’s underground bass music festival, brought another smooth, successful, and unforgettable edition this year.
If there was one place that every bass lover in the Midwest found themselves last weekend, it was Lunar Tide Festival. With a stacked lineup and top-tier sound systems, many journeyed from all over the country to experience the event that NSW Presents hosted, and they were treated to an experience that was well worth the trip to Illinois.
The Lakehurst Event Center, located just outside of the bustling city of Chicago in Waukegan, has remained the perfect home for Lunar Tide. It’s an easy drive for locals and non-intimidating to non-locals unfamiliar with the city. With a decent-sized parking lot of its own, the venue is also surrounded by a well-lit and easily walkable district of restaurants and stores. Additionally, three hotels are within walking distance, making for an easy and super-safe way to plan accommodations.
This was my first experience at Lunar Tide, after constantly envying the attendees of every show that NSW Presents has thrown this past year. With three stages, my favorite sound systems, and the US debut of my favorite artists I’d waited patiently for this year, I knew I had to make the trip. Keep reading to hear about all of the things this festival knocked out of the park in 2023.
Five Ways Lunar Tide Set the Bar High for Bass Festivals
International talent was abundant, with some artists on their first-ever US tours.
One of the easiest and most important ways a lineup can stand out in today’s surge of bass music popularity is by bringing acts that are difficult to catch anywhere else. Lunar Tide didn’t just bring countless popular overseas talents like Alix Perez, Epoch, Hypho, and Hamdi, but plenty more that have been even harder to come by in the States. While the stop on Visages‘ debut US tour drew me in immediately, we were also spoiled with some of the first-ever stateside appearances from jump-up king Bou and dubstep magician Copycatt.
There was an emphasis on safety and harm reduction.
Not only was the venue situated in a great area with three walkable hotels, but Lunar Tide offered harm reduction at the event itself. You could pick up free Narcan, testing strips, and condoms from the Live4Lali booth upstairs. High-quality earplugs were available for purchase, and free disposables were on deck as well, which no sound system event should be without. I was happy to see a sign that read “protect your hearing, earplugs available” right at the door to the mainstage.
One of the only safety concerns that was brought to my attention (aside from the horrible heat inside the venue on Friday) was that there was no one monitoring parking. Free parking is always a win, but hearing that rows of cars were trapped by others trying to squeeze in made it clear some kind of regulation should happen in the future.
The best sound systems in the country.
Undoubtedly, many sound system heads will determine whether or not an event is worth attending based on the sound quality. When it comes to the NSW team, you can guarantee that there will never be a shortage of quality sonics at any of their shows. Lunar Tide was no different, boasting Funktion-One speakers, HSD Systems, and my personal favorite, the Element-5s. This was also my first time experiencing the Element-5s in an indoor setting, and they were shaking the entire building.
The only slight imperfection I noticed with the sound was that it was not balanced perfectly for each room. This meant the crowd favored the left sides of both the Lunar and Solar stages as that’s where it was the most crisp, but this is a minor thing that could be fixed for next year.
The art, visual artists, and top-tier production.
There was no lack of art this past weekend, with craft and clothing vendors of all kinds, live painters on the outskirts of the stages, and photo walls to pose with. The Solar Stage also featured a string art installation by Neural Patterns that made for a super unique addition to the stage when the lights hit the neon cords. Ivy Visuals and Uhnomaly also put on some of the best visual shows I saw the whole weekend. That said, I wished the festival had released a list of visual pairings for both nights because I didn’t always know who was VJing while the artists were playing.
The flow artists and their stunning performances.
Lunar Tide booked an entire lineup of performers this year, from fire spinners to hoop magicians. They fluttered around each stage all weekend with some seriously impressive performances. My friends and I watched mesmerized as one girl spun at least eight hoops at once during Of The Trees‘ closing set on Saturday. Intimate bass music events like this one are never the same without performers, and it was great to see Lunar Tide let so many of them shine.