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Concert Thu Sep 09 2010

North Coast Festival Review: Sunday

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All photos (unless noted) by George Aye


The last day of North Coast was heavy on the hip-hop, with a nice dose of dance and some curve balls of soul and folk pop thrown in the mix. Our feet were a bit tired but our spirits high as we started the last day of the last big summer festival in Chicago. George caught some of local outfit Maps & Atlases as he entered the fest, as seen above. I meanwhile caught duo Phantogram, who churned out dreamy electronic infused pop, like a darker less drone version of Beach House, very ethereal and stylized, a great warm-up to the day.

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We caught some of Holy Ghost! next, who I was excited to see at the festival after missing most of their set when they opened for LCD Soundsystem at the Metro a few months back. The hipsters came out of the woodwork for Holy Ghost! and the crowd looked like an Urban Outfitters crowd instead of a rave all of a sudden. The band spins polished glittery disco music, and remind me a lot of The Rapture live. Although Holy Ghost! vocals sound better recorded than live, the band still got the early crowd dancing, but weren't as captivating as I hoped they would be. Instead we headed over to catch Benny Benassi at the Coast stage.

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Benassi's set was exactly what I expected; kids dressed like their clubbing in Ibiza, very slutty sounding aggressive electro beats, and non-stop dancing. It was indulgent and a bit stereotypical of its scene, but it was fun. Benassi kept it light, taking photos of the crowd and dancing along, and when he dropped his standout hit "Satisfaction" the crowd bounced in unison, getting carried away and riding along in the moment. The only qualm I had was the time slot for Benassi. 4:30 in the afternoon is for me, not a time to dance to Benny Benassi music. Somethings look better in the dark, and that includes people on a lot of drugs dancing.

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Up next was the smooth soul styling of Mayer Hawthorne. Raised in Midwest on soul records from his dad, Hawthorne grew a love for the genre, and started off as a DJ before heading out west to LA to create his own spin on the sound. Everything looked right, the full band dressed sharp, and the sound was good, a great blend of vintage soul, but at times Hawthorne seemed to be trying to hard to win over the crowd, and edged into the corny territory. Towards the end of his set, he finally seemed comfortable, and ended up giving an enjoyable lesson on his favorite brand of music.

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Up next was one of the acts I was most excited to see at North Coast, Flying Lotus. The dude is related to Coltrane, did the music for Adult Swim, and toured with Thom Yorke, so clearly this is a guy after my own heart. I've been listening to his latest album Cosmogramma on repeat, and was ready for his smooth full of blips blend of electronic and hip-hop. Live, his set was much heavier than I expected, full of vibrato and bass, and he didn't waste time chattering much with the crowd, but got down to business, playing a pretty much continues stream of music for a full hour. The crowd grew, probably the largest crowd I'd seen that weekend for such an early slot, dust flew everywhere as people danced, threw things, and generally lost control. It was the perfect type of primal festival mayhem you want from a set.

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The stage changes weren't seamless at the festival (pretty common) so after Flying Lotus I had a few minutes of downtime before Lupe Fiasco took the stage. Our intrepid photographer George had to leave early, so after I bid him adieu I went with the suggestion of my boyfriend and Veronica from Cream Team and went over to check out Chicago house legend Green Velvet. Green Velvet was actually performing live, and I walked in not expecting much of a show. Boy was I wrong. Within minutes our group of friends were dancing like crazy, as Green Velvet busted out ridiculous dance moves (including a pretty great robot march) between his tracks. The crowd was going nuts (a constant at most dance sets during the weekend), and the set was capped off when Velvet spun his dance hit ""Coffee Pot (It's Time for the Percolator)" and brought out Chicago's own FootworKINGz to juke and perc onstage. To cap things off, he brought out another Chicago boy, DJ Gant-Man, to get the crowd jukin. The set ended a true Chicago affair, and was one of the surprise highlights of my weekend.

I ended my night over at Lupe Fiasco, ready to hear some of his new material that hopefully will see the light of day if he works things out with his label. With a full backing band, Lupe's new material is more rock-centric than I expected. Whether rhyming over Radiohead or getting the whole crowd to sing with him on "Superstar," Fiasco gave 110%, as cliche as it is. He was sweating like crazy, bounding from side to side of the stage, full of intensity, giving his hometown crowd a full show. I met up with Amy from Heave Media, who so graciously shot some pictures of Lupe to share with us (as seen below), and together we sung along to "Kick Push" kicking up dust into the night sky.

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Lupe photo by Amy from Heave Media

Amy and I sat on benches backstage, the wind whipping up dirt and sand in our eyes, and we watched the crowd wave Jamaican flags high, puffs of pot smoke linger in the air as Nas and Damian Marley take the stage. The set started out centered more around Nas's style, but slowly blended in the Marley elements of reggae, with standout tracks "Exodus," "Hate Me Now," and "Welcome to Jamrock." Everything was relaxed and happy, a perfect ending to a wonderful summer of music. Like any first year festival North Coast had their minor and major bumps, but overall the festival ran smoothly and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, making it a festival we look forward to attending next year.

 
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