The Best Tracks of ARC Festival 2023 (DJ Selects)

Legendary Chicago players and visiting acts alike from ARC Festival’s 2023 lineup select their top tracks of the glorious three-day event.

8 min
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Sept 14, 2023
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By
Cameron Holbrook

It’s one thing to know and celebrate Chicago’s heritage as the birthplace of house music, but it’s another thing entirely to participate in it. Having just wrapped up its third edition, ARC Festival has filled a gaping hole in Chicago’s vital and historic clubland culture — creating the city’s very own flagship house music festival.

Taking place over Labor Day Weekend, this seamless three-day dance floor spectacular brought electronic music heroes, achievers, newcomers, and revelers from all walks of life to indulge in The Windy City’s fetching atmosphere and world-class nightlife. Beatport was on the scene, teaming up with Lady of the House to ring in the festivities with local legends DJ Heather and DJ Lady D for an official pre-party, and there was so much more to come.

Split between four stages, ARC Festival’s lineup excels in accentuating and celebrating house music in all its forms. The main stage (named The Grid) touted huge headling acts such as Peggy Gou, Boris Brejcha, Fatboy Slim, Tale Of Us, Pattrick Topping, John Summit, and beyond, while Elrow’s yearly stage takeover treated crowds to sets from Sam Divine, Walker & Royce, Wade, Vintage Culture, Lee Foss, Gene Farris, and the list goes on.

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The festival’s Expansions stage was a mixed bag of Midwest dance floor pioneers and international rave champions, putting the likes of DJ Minx, Moodymann, Carl Craig, The Blessed Madonna, and Derrick Carter alongside acts such as Hot Since 82, Anfisa Letyago, Mochakk, and Black Coffee.

New to the festival this year was the gladiatorial techno hub known as the Area 909 — a stage erected as “an homage to the brotherhood between Detroit and Chicago, the founding fathers of this sound,” as festival founder John Curley described it to Beatport. This intimate setting saw raw and rowdy sets from Nina Kraviz, Phuture, Mike Dunn, Terry Hunter, Dax J, Sara Landry, and more.

Dreamed up by the clubland aficionados over at Auris Presents — Chicago’s premier promotion & events company for dance music — ARC Festival’s sheer dedication to championing Chicago’s house music heroes on each year’s lineup is what sets the ethos of ARC Festival apart from the rest. “Without them, ARC would not be here. It’s as simple as that,” festival founder Stuart Hackley explains. “The artists who come here to play from all over the world know and understand the role and significance that these Chicago acts have played in making the house music scene what it is today, and they are not only thrilled to be sharing the stage with them, they want to go B2B with them as well! That’s the real beauty of ARC that’s hard to find elsewhere.”

We linked up with some of ARC Festival’s storied Chicago players and a handful of other acts that appeared on the lineup to ask them what their favorite track drop of the festival was and why. Check out their answers below!

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DJ LADY D

Chemars – Real Love [Grinko Music]

“It samples a Chicago classic, “Dr. Love” by First Choice — my absolute favorite of all time. He adds a jazzy sax riff in there for texture and colors it with a sweet vocal hook. I knew the crowd would feel it as deeply as I do and groove out to that undeniable bassline. Watching people really get into it was a joy.” – DJ Lady D

KEVIN KNAPP

Body Ocean – Yes Sir [Dirtybird]

“I’ve really loved playing Body Ocean’s “Yes Sir” during my sets lately, and Sunday at ARC Music Festival was no different. It really lifts the entire room, including the fringes, with a fully immersive sound bath and, in my opinion, floods folks with serotonin. I absolutely love this track.” – Kevin Knapp

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HIROKO YAMAMURA

Green Velvet – Flash (The Advent & Industrialyzer Remix) [Relief]

“After a long day of relentless dancing and pounding techno, finding a way to add velocity to the set was a challenge, but a secret weapon is always, Chicago’s Green Velvet’s “Flash.” The Advent and Industrialyzer Remix is extremely respectful to the source material, but really elevates the track into a different more sinister energy. It resonated perfectly as we closed ARC at the 909 stage, alongside some of the coolest people to stomp the ground at the festival til the last boom.” – Hiroko Yamamura

TARA BROOKS

DJ Seinfeld, Confidence Man – Now Do U [Ninja Tune]

“I am absolutely in love with DJ Seinfeld and Confidence Man’s latest tune, “Now U Do.” It’s positive, uplifting and has that special emotional hook & tone that makes you feel alive, and tugs at your heartstrings. It’s perfect for my sets to balance & lighten my edgy, darker and trippy tech side.” – Tara Brooks

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GENE FARRIS

Gene Farris – Limousine [Stress Records]

“My favorite track during my ARC set was ‘Limousine’ — my track on Stress Records. This song has been one of the biggest songs in my sets all summer! The support and response has been unbelievable from the crowds, plus other big DJs playing it in their sets love this song.” – Gene Farris

KYLE WALKER

Kyle Walker – Them Drums [Club Sweat]

“I always felt that this track was perfect for an elrow party and it definitely connected with the crowd. The percussive drums of the song paired with the theme of the stage made for a great moment.” – Kyle Walker

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DJ MINX

DJ Minx – D Town (Inner City Remix) [Women On Wax Recordings]

“I love the way that Inner City vibe slices the original vocals and their signature synth lines to give the track a total Detroit feel. When the bass was delivered, the dancers in the back felt it first…I saw it! Always a crowd shuffler, this track is my absolute favorite of the weekend.” – DJ Minx

WADE

Alok & Pickle – Drum Machine [CONTROVERSIA]

“This track has been a consistent crowd-pleaser in my recent sets. The bass in this track is so powerful, a testament to the skillful work put into making the tune.” – Wade

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