Festival season is underway here in Chicago and fans of pop art and energizing dance music are in for a treat. The annual Heatwave Festival returns to Douglas Park July 16th and 17th and features a wide variety of performers and artists. It is truly a change of pace from other well-known festivals in Chicago such as Riot Fest and Lollapalooza. With that change of pace comes an eclectic selection of artists to look out for if you're considering dancing your heart out in Douglas Park next weekend. These are five bands featured on the roster for Heatwave this year that attendees should be sure to catch this summer, or if you’re new to the dance music scene (like myself), these are bands that can serve as a proper introduction.
#1: Zeds Dead
The first artist on this list is perhaps one of the most anticipated; one of the headliners on July 17th alongside Tiësto, Zeds Dead offers electrifying, bass-heavy beats. Formed in 2009 in Toronto, Canada, longtime friends Dylan Mamid (DC) and Zachary Rapp-Rovan (Hooks) rose from local hip-hop lovers to an international touring duo and have become a staple of the electronic house music scene onstage and in nightclubs around the world.
Selected songs: "I Took a Ride" and "Lights Out (featuring Atlas)"
#2: Blunts & Blondes
Blending a mix of genres such as reggae, hip-hop, synthpop, and electronic in their music, Blunts & Blondes offers a number of surprises. Under the stage name, founder Michael Guard “creates his own, unique vibe by blending all elements of bass music and even sprinkling in hip-hop and deep Rastafarian influences” and “is taking the dubstep game by storm,” as stated in his official website. As such, this is truly an artist whose work anyone with an eclectic taste in music can enjoy and dance, jump, or sway to. He is also associated with several other acts in the dance music scene, including previously mentioned act Zeds Dead, who recently collaborated with Blunts & Blondes on the song “Think of You” earlier this year.
Selected songs: "Think of You (with Zeds Dead)," "My Life Is Good," and "Safe and Sound (Rebelution)"
#3: Slow Magic
This act separates itself from the previously mentioned artists on this list. Emphasizing much more on an ambient beat and less on a bass-heavy tone most frequently heard in nightclubs, Slow Magic will surely take things down a notch at Heatwave this year. Emerging in 2012, Slow Magic has been described by AllMusic as “a producer known for his otherworldly, yet still pop-savvy, synth and electronic sound” and much like acts such as DeadMau5 and MF Doom can be seen donning a mask as he adheres to the persona of an enigmatic DJ.
Selected songs: "Light (featuring Tropics)," “Feel Flows,” and “Circle”
#4: Yellow Claw
If asked to describe the basics of club music, listeners would need to look no further than the music of Yellow Claw. The Dutch duo from Amsterdam became prominent in 2010, featuring beats that combine elements of hip-hop, dubstep, trap, and moombahton, the latter of which combines reggaeton and house music. The duo seem to have plenty to offer, having released multiple projects over 2022, including those under their alias Curo Tra$h, and continue to tour throughout North America and Europe this summer.
Selected songs: “Love and War (Yellow Claw G-Funk Slowed Remix),” “We Can Get High,” “Slow Down” and “DJ Turn It Up”
#5: Above and Beyond
Closing out this list is yet another much anticipated artist that will be headlining Heatwave on July 16th. Formed in 2000, Above and Beyond have dominated the genre of house music and DJ-driven electronica for nearly two decades. Unlike most of the other artists on this list, Above and Beyond focus more on progressive, ambient trance music that is captivating, calming, and electrifying all at once. Those looking for ambience can find such from the artists on the album Flow State, while their latest projects Group Therapy provide more energetic beats that will surely keep Heatwave fans moving.
Selected songs: “Don’t Leave,” “Group Therapy,” and “Morning in Deira”