Now that the storm of angry ravers has calmed down a little bit, I wanted to go through what USC Events did to make Freaknight another Halloween event that I'll never forget. Despite the incredible tunes, we were impressed with a lot of aspects of the evening, big and small. Take a look at our list here!
1) Stage Placement
With this having been my fourth year at Freaknight, I’ve seen significant improvement in the setup of the event. In years past, there had been four stages instead of 3, all set up in the WaMu Theater and Events Center area. The space is a whopping 200,000 square feet, but it just wasn’t quite enough to avoid some nasty sound bleed that I distinctly remember from 2011’s show. That setup also really bottlenecked the entrance and exits to the main stage, and made it pretty crowded.
Increasing attendance got USC to rethink their setup in 2012, and with the 3 stages in 3 separate areas this year, it was perfect. The main stage had enough room for 22,000 ravers to dance comfortably, and the Bass Asylum and Midway of Mayhem were great escapes from the craziness of the Twisted Big Top. I’m glad they stuck with this setup and continue to do so!
2) Production Value
USC Events always goes “balls to the wall” with their FreakNight production, but this years’ blew it out of the water. Giant LED panels on the Event Center’s supporting beams and dozens of moving spotlights were a big highlight for attendees this year, as well as a little bit of pyrotechnics in the mix. Dillon Francis’ set was a favorite of mine, and the goofy little monsters on his visuals looked awesome on those panels.
Lasers were a big highlight at the Bass Asylum stage (those bass heads really like lasers, trust me). Fog machines were going strong over at the Midway of Mayhem stage, especially during Carl Cox’s epic set. The color of the lights were almost always a bright, UV reactive blue, and it was hilarious watching attendees with neon costumes step into the light and freak out over how cool it looked.
3) Short Lines
I’ll never forget 2012’s crazy Freaknight where we were stuck in line for over 2 and a half awful, cold hours. USC took this feedback very seriously, and lines in 2013 were short and moving smoothly. This year, even with increased security measures like checking shoes, the lines were flawless. Additional check points pulsed the line which significantly decreased bottlenecking as well. However, many attendees were weary of the lax of security this year, which almost seemed too hurried to get people out of line quicker and didn’t have enough of a focus on checking bags and pockets. This has been a big highlight surrounding the death of an attendee on Friday, leading to Saturday night’s cancellation. Is there a way to find a happy medium between line flow and adequate security measures? That’s a hard one.
4) Conscious Crew & Water Availability
The Conscious Crew has been an incredible asset to USC Events. Volunteers (all of whom are trained prior to the event and many of whom are CPR certified) walk around the event in bright orange t-shirts on the lookout for ravers who may be in need of a little assistance, whether it be medical or otherwise. They hand out free water to those who might be dancing a little too hard without some hydration and have radios to contact medical personnel quickly and effectively if necessary. This is absolutely ESSENTIAL at a show like FreakNight, where many of the attendees are young and often experimenting with things they shouldn’t be for the first time.
There were three water stations, one in each stage area, and I never had to wait for more than 5 minutes at each one. Once inside the doors of WaMu, every attendee was set up as best they could be for a safe and successful evening. USC made sure that the environment was set up for the safest experience possible, had attendees chosen to gone down that road.
5) Longer Sets
Ahh yes, the music. The part you were all waiting for! I won’t go into great detail on specific sets at this year’s Freaknight, but I want to give USC props for providing artists with longer sets. The main and bass stage had each artist playing for an hour, which is pretty standard, but the Midway of Mayhem (the house stage this year) was set up for success, allowing each artist an hour and 15 minutes, except Carl Cox who had two hours. Now, this was likely Cox’s choice for the longer sets, but USC would have been nuts not to agree! Two hours is even a short set for Carl Cox, who is known for his 3+ hour extravaganzas. House music is one of those genres that really does need more time, with longer buildups and more complex beat transitions. PS: Carl Cox was my favorite of the night, if it isn’t obvious yet.
Just Touching on This…
I’m going to be honest here and say that I don’t want to get much into the tragedy of a young man’s death on Friday night. I can’t even fathom being in his family and friends’ place right now. Losing someone you love is one of the most awful things any human can experience. Loss is hard. USC (or whoever's call it was) made the right decision to cancel Saturday night – I know the situation has angered many people, but when something like this happens, an events company has to make a very difficult decision. In my opinion, were attendees set up for safety once inside the building? Absolutely. Could security have been a little more thorough? I think so. Is it hard to find an effective medium between security being safe and being intrusive? You betcha. USC, thank you for all of your hard work. We know you do your best to create a safe and fun Freaknight for everyone, and we appreciate that. Looking forward to next year’s Freaknight and what’s to come!