Chicago is notorious for celebrating its hometown heroes.
Ryan Raddon, better known as Kaskade, returned home recently where he played to an electric crowd at the iconic Navy Pier. Chicago loves Kaskade so much that mayor Rahm Emanuel made October 17th the official “Kaskade Day”. If that doesn’t scream love for one of the city’s favorite artists then I don’t know what does.
“I Remember” kicked things off for Kaskade. Shufflers and dancers ran amok, Chicago flags waved proudly in the air. Sometime during his set, Kaskade dropped the volume and proudly stated his Chicago roots and that “he was home”. Massive laser beams shot out from the stage, dousing the fans in cool colors while singing along to “Disarm You” off of Kaskade’s newest album, “Automatic”. The minute “Atmosphere” came on, the whole crowd was jumping and singing at the top of their lungs. The whole set was a beautiful mix of the old and new.
One thing Kaskade does extremely well is work the crowd. During his hour and a half set there were people up on their feet moving to the beat, always asking for more from Kaskade. Personally, the energy I felt from this crowd was unique compared to the other crowds I’ve experienced. Yes, there were still the occasional guys who pushed and shoved their way to the front, but the majority was respectful. There’s something beautiful about watching thousands sway to and sing along to “Last Chance,” a sort of ethereal feeling I can’t quite describe.
Seeing a hometown favorite return to his old stomping grounds brings out an unexplainable sense of pride in Chicagoans. The four Chicago stars were everywhere; even myself, a recent transplant, couldn’t help but proclaim my devotion to this city. Our shared love for our home brought everyone together and I felt this was one of the friendlier crowds I’ve had the privilege to dance with. I wound up losing my own group but quickly found another family that welcomed me with open arms. Shout out to Ji and Grace for dancing the night away with me.
The venue is everything I look for in an ideal concert space. The exhibit hall in Navy Pier is huge; think of a giant empty warehouse with space for thousands and excessive room for fans to dance and run around. There are no fancy tables or booths or glamorous ceiling decorations in the exhibition hall. The ceilings are high and the rectangular concrete space provides plenty of cool air for fans. I was very happy to say the least.
I saw Kaskade two years ago in the exact same venue and both times, despite enjoying myself, I felt the sets were unusually short. Chicago has strict noise ordinance rules that limit the length of concerts in public spaces. Both times Kaskade ended around 11:30pm, his set lasting roughly an hour and a half before fans were shuttled back into the cold (October in Chicago means 40 degrees). If I had one major complaint, it would be the length of the show overall. Maybe it’s because I only show up in time for the main act, but just as I’m getting stoked for the night it seems like the set is already ending.
“Automatic” is an elegantly crafted album that deserves a platform like Navy Pier to shine on. I’m probably biased when I say Kaskade saves his best shows for Chicago, but it’s clear to anyone that the Windy City holds a special place in his heart. Kaskade, you’re always welcome back home to Chicago and we can’t wait to for you to return.