The fifth annual North Coast Music Festival closed out its three days of EDM and hip-hop madness on Sunday with a strong lineup of DJs and Snoop Dogg as a headliner...
While Saturday's lineup had a strong hip-hop presence with Talib Kweli and Kid Cudi, and a big-named live band in STS9, DJs took center stage on Sunday as the crowd was absolutely fired up for some big-time sets.
Much like Saturday, the crowd really filled out in Union Park in the 3-4 p.m. range and right off the bat, Midnight Conspiracy had a very strong showing on the 847 Stage, drawing the biggest group of people the stage had seen either weekend day.
With its heavy bass sound and enthusiastic DJ duo, the crowd at the 847 stage reacted to Midnight Conspiracy's set much like a rock show, complete with some crowd surfing, light moshing and a lot of head banging to the beat. Overall, it was a really fun set and the crowd seemed to really enjoy what Midnight Conspiracy was bringing to the table.
At the 312 stage, I was able to catch the tail end of The New Deal, who was touring for the first time since breaking up in 2011. The trio uses live instruments to create a sound reminiscent of a DJ playing house music and drummer Darren Shearer was fantastic as the group's backbone. Shearer used his right foot on the bass drum to create the group's driving, low-end bass and he worked incredibly well with his hands from there to be the group's driving force. Hopefully these guys continue to stay together and tour because the end of their Sunday set was strong and left me wanting more.
From there, the 630 stage was the place to be as Riff Riff played an energetic set. The Texas rapper, who was seen recently with his trademark braids and style with Katy Perry at the MTV VMAs, used the low-end bass that the Texas hip-hop scene is known for to drive the crowd into a frenzy.
American DJ, Griz capitalized on Riff Raff's energy at the 630 stage afterwards as Griz used elements of trap, dubstep and even some saxophone to get his huge crowd grooving. Griz drew a gigantic crowd to the tree-covered 630 stage and almost everyone in attendance was feeling his infectious, heavy-bass music.
After Griz continued a wave of strong Sunday DJ performances, festival veterans Zeds Dead hit the 630 stage as the afternoon began to wind down. The Canadian dubstep-influenced duo threw everything they had at the large crowd, including some elements of house, drum and bass and some more traditional dubstep drops that really had the crowd going.
Once again, as was the theme Sunday, the crowd was very into the heavy bass and the energy of Zeds Dead. Compared to Saturday, the crowd energy was much higher throughout the day for a crowd that could have slowed down during the third day of a long, outdoor weekend festival.
As Zeds Dead slowed down and the crowd began anticipating Snoop Dogg, many were anxious to see how the Doggfather would perform in a day dominated by DJs. Much to the dismay of the crowd, Snoop entered North Coast with a reggae-influenced opening track and then went into a bunch of guest spots he had recently done, including his verse on Katy Perry's "California Gurls."
As someone who saw Snoop open with "Murder Was The Case" at Allstate Arena nearly a decade ago -- still, to this day, one of the coolest intros I've ever seen, regardless of genre -- this pop-friendly version of Snoop was a far cry from the fantastic performance he put on with a live backing band a decade ago. With a backing DJ and some friends joining him on stage, Snoop was still smooth and comfortable going over his verses, but the song selection left a lot to be desired and many in the back portion of the crowd quickly fled for the 630 stage and headliner Dada Life.
I followed suit and was rewarded with my favorite set of the weekend from the Swedish electronic duo. Although Dada Life didn't have their typical trademark champagne and bananas, some in the huge crowd for them still dressed up in banana suits for the show and the duo did not disappoint its rabid fanbase.
With a spectacular laser-light show -- which went into the many trees of the 630 stage and looked really cool in the night sky -- and innovative video screen presentations, Dada Life kept the crowd dancing and smiling the entire set just as they had intended.
Friends of mine had raved about Dada Life for the last few years and the duo has done a great job of creating a brand and an identity that separates them from many of their EDM peers. Dada Life took advantage of its music with fireworks or steam and smoke that went off during many of the drops and the crowd absolutely ate it up.
Despite Dada Life having played one of the better sets of the weekend, I ventured over to see Snoop Dogg close with some good tracks that old-school Snoop fans really wanted to see. Snoop cruised through his classic early-'90s jam, "Who Am I (What's My Name?)" and had the crowd singing along with him over the famous chorus. Although Snoop Dogg's performance wasn't quite what I was hoping for on Sunday, when he decides to bring his fastball on older tracks, he's still coming in hot.
As North Coast Music Festival came to a close in 2014, the festival has a lot to look forward to. The event organizers have improved the sound quality and visual presentation at most of the stages in the venue and the layout has improved with slight tweaks over the years. As festivals catering to hip-hop and EDM continue to thrive, this should be a late-summer music event to track in the coming years.
- Scott Phillips
(Scott Phillips lives in Chicago and has contributed freelance writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, NBC Sports and CSN Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @phillipshoops)