How can anyone forget the first annual North Coast Music Festival in 2010?
The most memorable performance was The Chemical Brothers. I have heard numerous people say that this performance is listed on their top five favorite shows. What better way to launch a new music festival, than to bring in artists as big as The Chemical Brothers, Moby, Nas & Damien Marley, and The Disco Biscuits?
North Coast has become the smaller and better version of Lollapalooza. It doesn’t have as much genre variety as Lolla but it does have a great lineup of electronic and hip hop artists with some jam bands thrown in there. After this year’s second annual Wavefront Music Festival on Montrose Beach, it is hard to say which festival will get the better vote. North Coast does offer a bit more variety than Wavefront in terms of music genres, but you can’t beat a festival on the beach with a giant water slide, carnival rides, and Crookers, Diplo, and Justice playing one after the other. However, North Coast makes up for by throwing an end of the summer bash that is always a good time.
North Coast has definitely won over Chicagoans. The layout of the festival is easy to navigate and convenient for seeing overlapping sets. Union Park may not be in the heart of the city but it is relatively easy to get to on public transportation. North Coast has a younger vibe to it which contributes to its musical genres. There are a good amount of food and drink vendors. Some of the drink vendors are a bit pricey but it is no different than any other music festival. The sangria tent is always a delicious option, if you’re 21 or older.
North Coast has improved its setup over the years. They have made the stage areas bigger and better adjusting to the crowd size. In my opinion, 2010 and 2011 were the best years musically. The Chemical Brothers rarely tour in the U.S. For them to have come to Chicago at this small festival’s first year was huge. Moby is a legendary artist who played the first year as well. I noticed some similarities betweem 2010’s lineup to this year’s lineup. These are Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Disco Biscuits, Laidback Luke, Claude VonStroke, and of course hometown heroes Future Rock and The Coop. I think it is both good and bad to include similar artists from previous years at a festival. It is good because it will draw in the same crowd and is likely to be a success. It is bad because it may cause new attendees to stray if they are looking for variety. The New Deal, Boys Noize, New Mastersounds, Chicago natives Umphrey’s McGee and Lupe Fiasco, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were also great artists on the 2010 lineup. All were very popular at the time, drawing in thousands.
The 2011 lineup drew in an even larger crowd than the previous year. It included Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox, Common, STS9, Bassnectar, Lotus, Major Lazer, and many more. Carl Cox and Fatboy Slim had legendary performances as always. Common’s was pretty great as well. He is another Chicago native. I remember seeing people dancing on a statue at Major Lazer. Although last year’s lineup was the weakest in big names, it had the largest crowd I have seen at North Coast. Atmosphere, People Under the Stairs, and Chuckie were the performances that stuck out the most to me. Nonetheless, I always have a great time at the festival.
This year’s lineup includes some returning artists as well as new ones. Most festival goers are excited about Wu-Tang Clan. The Disco Biscuits will draw a crowd as well. I am the most excited for Danny Brown, Claude VonStroke, and A-Trak. North Coast Music Festival is a great way to end the summer. The weather is always great and the best part of having it on Labor Day weekend is most people have Monday off. There are always great after parties as well. Bottom Lounge is walking distance to Union Park. The Mid is not too far either. Both venues always have after shows. A new venue in Logan Square will feature some after parties as well. The Concord Music Hall will host The Disco Biscuits Friday night and Lotus and Future Rock Sunday night. Don’t miss North Coast Music Festival! It is a tradition in itself.
Tiffany Lapetina is a contributor to "As I See It", you can listen to her show on wmxm.org late nights