Live Review | North Coast Music Festival


Live Review | North Coast Music Fest

Union Park, Chicago

by Joshua P. Ferguson

With the passing of Labor Day, and therefore the ending of summer, I am officially considering myself a festival boy scout. Beginning with Detroit's Movement fest in May and carrying on through Pitchfork, Lollapalooza and, as of this past weekend, the sophomore installment of Chicago's burgeoning dance-jam-hop showcase I've spent many a weekend in 2011 soaking up sounds and sun. Now I come prepared. Possible changes in the weather are well researched. Cell phones and other necessities are wrapped neatly in a Ziplock bag. The sunblock's always been there, but now it joins me in spray form for ease of application. I'm not fooling around. Covering all these festival's for Time Out Chicago, I've even grown quite good about reviewing on the spot. Typing thoughts into my cell phone like an essay-length text and sending them in to editorial right then and there, I helped perfect real-time coverage this summer.

As fun as it's been, I'm glad it's over. I'm tired. I have ear fatigue—and a faint ringing in the left one. I'm burnt out on rubbing up against sweaty bodies belonging to people who have drank or drugged the concept of personal space right out their brains. 

But that's that. No more bitching. Ultimately those moments bleed together into the din of festival—as a concept, not as a specific memory. What I'll take away from this year's North Coast are the dancing computers of the Hood Internet, SBTRKT's expansive U.K. bass music bliss, showing my little  brother a good time and bidding the whole shebang a fond farewell with Thievery Corporation chilling everyone out in the background.

Here, in a series of quotes, are snippets of the best ways I could come up with to describe what I was seeing and hearing. Links to full reviews and, more importantly, photos (!) follow.

Happy reading!

North Coast Music Festival | Friday

The Hood Internet: "Foster the People mingled with the dirty south, Cee-lo said ” Fuck You,” cardboard computers danced onstage and the crowd—everyone from hippies with hemp necklaces to bros in flourescent tanks and oversize gold chains—loved every bit of it." —TOC | Hood Internet 

James Zabiela: "His youthfulness is matched by a crowd of painted baby faces and smoked-up eyes. A sign bobbing above the crowd beckons APPLAUSE, but everybody's too busy thrusting those fists skyward." TOC | James Zabiela 

SBTRKT: "jazzy snare taps, sultry vocal riffs and just enough sub to remind the crowd we're here to dance. I don't know if they're 100 percent sold, but they showed up en masse to figure it out."  TOC | SBTRKT 

North Coast Music Festival | Saturday

RJD2 + Break Science: "The weather gods smiled on RJD2 at least, letting up just in time for the stoned-beats maker to drop the needle on his Mad Men theme song. Juggling between funk samples, hip-hop acapellas and turns at the MPC, the DJ-producer was joined by drummer Beat Science, upping the head nod factor by ten." TOC | RJD2 

Major Lazer: "I was fortunate to have a girl in the crowd introduce Major Lazer for me. 'Diplo's such a hottie,' she said. The more recognizable of the duo's two principal members, he does know how to inject his booty bass with sex appeal." —TOC | Major Lazer 

Rusko: "Watching Rusko deejay, you'd think he is playing a game of hot potato with his feet, that the stage itself is white hot. The Cockney Thug—as he's become known—gets down like he's jumping with an invisible rope." TOC | Rusko 

Common: " 'Go' reminded us that hip-hop can be more subtle than 'How Low Can You Go.' This is why he's the elder statesman here and today's most seasoned performer so far." TOC | Common 

Fatboy Slim: "Up on the stage, silhouetted by images of rippling human cells and rapid-fire emerald green lasers, it's hard to make Fatboy Slim out in detail, but the big beat alum is approaching 50. Clearly for him, age is just a number because his set isn't dated." TOC | Fatboy Slim 

North Coast Music Festival | Sunday

The Budos Band: "There's something really cool about a band that was conceived of during late-night Ethio-jazz listening sessions. If Mulatu Astatke sat in with Fela Kuti and a virtuoso bass player straight outta WAR, that's these guys for sure." —TOC | The Budos Band 

Little Dragon: "Little Dragon could be the poster band that embodies what North Coast is all about. Danceable without being house, indie without a wall of guitars, they jam without that contrived Phish-iness. Ok, so magnetic singer Yukimi Nagano doesn't rap, but the band has toured with De La Soul, so it's in there somewhere." —TOC | Little Dragon 

Thievery Corporation: "Pan-world dub funk, listening to the band's music—which fleshes out with percussionists, guitar and a cavalcade of vocalists live—is like following a musical spice route through bhangra chill-out, French chanson, samba and a sex scene from a James Bond film before settling down on the sandy beaches of Jamaica for a healthy dose of dub reggae." —TOC | Thievery Corporation 

Head here for full coverage of the fest —TOC | NCMF



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