We the people... Opening Government for the People... By the People      

Log in

facebook icon  Google-Plus 24x24  icoTwitter  youtube

Review: Neither rain nor hail could stop North Coast Fest

Not just one, but two weather evacuations couldn't fully stop the beats and grooves for fans that headed to Chicago's annual Labor Day weekend festival, North Coast Music Festival. An estimated 50,000 attendees flocked to Union Park, on Chicago's near west side, for three days of music on five stages featuring an eclectic mix of artists, from local and up-and-coming acts, to headliners Wu-Tang Clan, Afrojack and Passion Pit.

Now in its fourth year, the fest's main bookings remain DJs/producers and electronic dance music artists, hip-hop artists and bands of the jam persuasion, although this year the hip-hop presence was more prevalent, even from within the EDM performances. And there was a diversity on the stage that attracted a wide-ranging audience as well, mostly young and many in creative costumes, toting sticks with various signage and oddities, from stuffed animals to blowup dolls. The fest's unifying culture focused on a love of beats, and there was an ample amount in which to indulge. Sunday's headliner Wu-Tang Clan was the big draw. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of its debut album, "Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" the group started on time, were fired up, and dropped classic cuts from that seminal record such as "C.R.E.A.M.," "Method Man," and "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing' Ta F' Wit," which became a crowd sing-a-long, along with dedications to late Wu-Tang member Ol' Dirty Bastard. Unfortunately the sound was cut about 40 minutes into the Wu-Tang set, followed by an announcement that the National Weather Service was reporting inclement weather.

That group wasn't the only one affected by the weather at North Coast. On Friday, the fest was forced to evacuate fans because of a heavy thunderstorm. Capital Cities was in the midst of an upbeat set, before announcing that there would be an evacuation, though the group were able to squeeze in its hit "Safe And Sound," before the fest shut down for a couple hours as the squall passed. As a security employee confirmed there was no designated area for attendees to take shelter, people vacated the park smoothly, many heading to nearby businesses such as Bottom Lounge, where people calmly waited for the storm to pass. Festival organizers extended the fest by an hour to accommodate the remaining lineup. The group that took a real hit during the downpour was headliners Passion Pit. "Literally all our gear got destroyed. But that doesn't mean we can't play some music," singer Michael Angelakos said before launching into an impromptu DJ set.

Other bands were more fortunate, and threw in some humor about the laptop-heavy fest. "We don't use click tracks. We don't use laptops. We do everything live, not that there's anything wrong with that" El Ten Eleven's double-necked bass guitar player Kristian Dunn remarked during the group's exhilarating performance. But it wasn't solely bands that employed live instrumentation. DJ/producer Russ Liquid played trumpet and flute atop his dark, trippy soundscapes and beats. While Purity Ring's electro-pop relied on an elaborate synth setup, the rig allowed Corin Roddick to play organically in a sense, with lanterns that he hit to light up and trigger synth melodies, while ethereal-voiced singer Megan James added bass drum punctuations on songs such as the visceral "Fineshrine," and the duo's rendition of Soulja Boy's "Grammy."

On the hip-hop tip, there was a mix of old and new school. Nas' set spanned his career, with songs from his landmark 1994 debut album, "Illmatic" ("The World Is Yours," "Life's A Bitch" to the poignant "Daughters" from his 2012 recording, "Life Is Good." On the other side of the spectrum was Danny Brown's humorous, spastic and frenetic set, which included surprise guest SD, part of Chief Keef's crew, for an explosive "New World Order." Mac Miller's Friday set was laid back in comparison.

Hip-hop also flavored several DJ sets, such as RL Grime's and Paper Diamond's, over the prominent dubstep influence of years past. Trap music, the percussive, Southern hip-hop/crunk style, has also influenced the EDM scene. Even bands such as Big Gigantic, whose North Coast appearance in 2011 was more jam-based, seemed more hip-hop leaning this year. There was even a straight-up hip-hop dance party courtesy of Grammy-winning producer Just Blaze, whose sweat-inducing set closed out one of the stages on Friday night.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Twitter @chitribent


Washington, D.C.


Humidity: 76%

Wind: 6 mph

  • 19 Mar 2016 41°F 36°F
  • 20 Mar 2016 42°F 35°F

 KDM Logo             civil survival logo       LNS Technology Logo                       Brand Echo logo          legacy2