Despite its relatively nascent tenure, ARC Music Festival has proven itself as a staple in the birthplace of house music.
Labor Day Weekend 2023 wasn’t unanimously smooth sailing in the broader festival landscape, but one of the most promising newcomers to the circuit delivered an incredible experience attendees won’t soon forget. Orchestrated by Auris Presents, ARC brought a formidable array of techno and house music titans to Chicago for a proper sendoff to the all-too-fleeting summer festival season.
Given its geographic history as an incubator for early house music, fans in the Midwest are receptive to new ideas, though discerning in their tastes. Now in its third year, ARC has not only won over the hearts of locals, but also bolstered its name to national renown.
The easiest place to observe ARC’s proof of success is in its talent. The festival’s marquee acts included two-time headliner Eric Prydz and act-of-the-moment Tale of Us. With that combination alone, you’d be hard-pressed to find another pair of buzz-worthy talents within the electronic music genre.
But the buzz isn’t without substance. ARC demonstrates that within a relatively defined niche of music programming, there’s a variety of factors drawing a new generation of listeners into the fold. And the festival’s organizers have a pulse on those gateways to entry.
Thousands danced on the grass at The Grid stage in Union Park, captivated by the acclaimed visuals of Afterlife visionaries Tale Of Us and Prydz’ HOLO show. Both have set social media ablaze this year, and their combined presence at ARC is a testament to the level of trust these generational talents place in the proven hands of Auris Presents. The boutique festival joins a very select few festival properties to host the duo of ambitious experiences within the same weekend.
Meanwhile, the festival’s dedicated elrow takeover stage presented a multi-sensory experience entire unique to ARC. The celebrated Spanish party brand’s vibrant decor, stilt-walking characters and rapturous confetti blasts bring a sort of “anything goes” mentality to the experience that can spark wonder and excitement in any fan.
The elrow team returned for the third consecutive year, and it’s the only U.S. festival stage takeover the brand has done in 2023. The stage boasted a slew of party-starting DJs to boot, including Vintage Culture, James Hype and Dombresky.
After the gates closed, ARC’s footprint expanded well beyond the confines of Union Park with a comprehensive takeover of the Chicago club scene. Even the festival’s headliners got in on the afterparty blitz, including John Summit, who notably performed his first hometown festival headlining slot on Saturday.
After cleaning up on the mainstage, the “Where You Are” producer brought the crowd straight to Radius, where he had the near-4,000 capacity venue brimming until 4am. Summit later got candid on Instagram, stating that the unforgettable weekend brought out what he considers to be the best set of his career thus far.
In total, “ARC After Dark” courted over 70 artists to play a combined 25 shows across more than 10 of the city’s premier venues. The sheer volume of options allowed ARC’s attendees to continue the party well into the morning hours on their own terms.
Amid an increasingly competitive festival landscape, especially in a major city like Chicago, it often feels as though there’s few ways to stand out. However, experiences like ARC serve as a reminder that there’s no substitute for a team with its pulse on the state of the scene. Even though there’s little left for them to prove, it still feels as though this ascendant experience’s best days are ahead.